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Andy David, Healthcare Industry Principal, APJ and Suresh S, Healthcare Regional Marketing, APJ discuss medical tourism.

Summary - Medical Tourism is set to increase tenfold in the next two years - so intelligent patient acquisition, retention and recruitment is critical to grow market share.

My first experience of medical tourism was in 2008, a simple tooth-whitening operation while holidaying in Goa. Yet most patients today are much better informed than I was, about their problems, the best treatment locations, and even the best doctors. I’m in Thailand as I write this, the medical capital of Asia, and 65% of patients in the flagship Bumrungrad hospital here are foreign.

That’s not surprising, given the skyrocketing cost of treatment in Western facilities. Instead, a flight abroad, an operation with the latest technology and best doctors, and a stay in a five-star hospital-hotel often totals to a fraction of the Western price - and happens faster than any national health service.

The booming medical tourism market

Yet the competition is fierce. As you arrive here, the adverts for medical tourism are relentless. And the competition from abroad is even hotter, with the whole of Asia turning into an affordable, reliable market for global medical tourists. More than 10 million medical tourists are expected annually in Asia by 2015, up from 1.3 million today. So hospitals need to acquire patients early, retain them for life, and convert them into evangelists.

Many patients start their process by asking friends and family - and a key entry point for medical tourism providers into this conversation is through social media. Twitter, Facebook and forums are excellent sources of information for users, as are comparison websites - 70% of decisions typically are made after consulting these peer group media. SAP’s systems identify and acquire patients on these forums, reaching directly out to them where possible.

Acquisition, retention, evangelization.

Once a patient is acquired, we then secure them through regular, automated contact; one day it’ll trigger an email, the next day educational material, the next a real life story, then a talk to the doctor, and so on, right up until the day they arrive and the chauffeur takes them straight off the plane to the hospital. Falling behind in your communication, even for a moment, is enough to allow another hospital to step in - because this is a caring sector and this communication implies you care.

And we handle the follow-up too. Our Patient Relationship Management software allows the hospital to stay in touch with the patient after the operation, to replicate their relationship with their local GP. Happy patients are evangelists to their peers so monitoring postoperative sentiment on social media is key to customer growth. The same social media systems that we use for acquisition can also be used to monitor this sentiment about the hospital’s brand or about the patient, offering end-to-end tracking of a patient’s trajectory from diagnosis to evangelist.


SAP’s social media technologies help hospitals identify and acquire new ‘floating’ patients. Once acquired, our PRM software helps us personalize service and interaction to meet heightened patient expectations in a resource- and cost-efficient manner. After an operation, our social media analytics kick in again, allowing us to track the patient’s response, our hospital’s brand, and other relevant industry trends.

To learn more about how we can help you with your business challenges please have a look at SAP's Solution Explorer for the Healthcare Industry.

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