International hospital expansion consists of extending a facility’s activities beyond the borders of its home country. Going out of your way to promote and adapt your services to attract foreign patients can help change the lives of many, giving them access to a quality of care they might not be able to get through their local healthcare providers.
International hospital expansion involves the challenges inherent to international expansion. For instance, you’ll need to research potential markets, learn about their regulatory standards and learn to communicate with key partners and target demographics within this new country. Of course, proper consulting, legal counseling and healthcare translation services will be essential. But, in some cases, your expansion will depend on establishing a strong and long-lasting bond with a foreign facility.
We have compiled a list of articles that cover everything from the importance of accurate communication with multilingual patients, to the relationship of ethnicity and health, to how technology is affecting the healthcare industry and what we, as healthcare professionals, can do about it. We recommend you read these, as they’ll provide you with valuable and in-depth knowledge that will help you succeed when looking to expand your healthcare facility overseas:
- Hospital Expansion Strategy – How to take the first steps
- What Countries are Lacking Proper Healthcare?
- How to become HIPAA Compliant – Your All-in-One guide
- Healthcare Marketing 101 – 7 Ways to Improve Communication with Your Patients
- 5 Ways in Which Ethnicity Affects Our Health
- The Top 10 Countries with Best Healthcare Systems
- Key Features That Make Medical Interpreting Important
- Doctors On Demand: The Healthcare Phenomenom of the Technology Era
- Best Practices on Medical Translation Services
- How A Revolutionary App is Transforming the Healthcare Industry
Hospital Expansion Through International Partnerships
Most hospitals go international through joint ventures, partnerships with medical centers in their target locale. Usually, partnerships unite a medical facility from a high-income country with one from a low-income nation.
At first sight, one might assume that professional insight and best practices will flow in one direction, but this is actually not the case. In the past, medical entities from low and middle-income nations have introduced substitute products and treatments and provided invaluable insight into alternative, and occasionally more effective methods of organization and resource allocation.
Aside from their economic benefits, as Louis Loutan said, in the 2010 Global Health Forum, this sort of alliances can be important “because they allow an organization to come out of isolation, to think together and to transfer technology”. International hospital partnerships facilitate the international flow of information that enables innovation in this day and age.
This sort of partnership is particularly beneficial for research-focused facilities.
Hospital Expansion through International Marketing
Partnerships aren’t our only option. It’s very common for specialized facilities to attract international patients. This is especially the case for cutting-edge cosmetic surgery clinics and professionals in middle-income nations.
Often, patients from higher-income countries decide to have surgery abroad because they know that foreign medical providers will be able to offer quality care at a lower cost. In order to attract this segment, clinics most often rely on marketing.
Some companies go the extra mile, establishing offices in their target nations, through which they sell the clinic’s medical services and act as some sort of travel agency, helping patients with their documentation and plane tickets. Other companies rely exclusively on international content marketing.
Content marketing can be great to make sure your international (and local) patients are more knowledgable and become an active part of their healing process, and to help them navigate the experience of medical travel. For an example of an excellent resource, take a look at Maimonides Medical Center’s “International Patients” section. Some institutions create content in English, while others create laser-targeted campaigns for travelers from certain nations.
The Key to Successful International Medical Marketing
A 2011 case study of Jordan international medical marketing campaigns concluded that there’s plenty of room for creativity and innovation in online tourism marketing, especially when it comes to integrating medical and regular touristic attractions.
The study recommends creating a legitimate and engaging image by implementing the latest design and marketing standards, as well as “expanding the scope of health travel, since the concept of health travel has changed from the past, with its branches overlapping with diverse human health goals, including medical tourism in its traditional sense, treatment of various types of dental diseases, spa tourism, resort tourism and tourism for people with disabilities.”
Think Beyond the Hospital
As Sean Patrick Hopwood, CEO and founder of Day Translations explained in a previous article, healthcare is entering a new era:
“One of the most substantial changes in the healthcare industry is the increasing demand for instant medical services through the development of healthcare apps. These interpreting platforms allow users to access medical information and advice from their phones”.
International patients might no longer have to face the inconveniences and costs of travel to get the expert medical advice they need. On the other hand, integrating professionals from your clinic within these platforms, while insufficient for patients with serious conditions, can be a marketing tactic.
Actionable Tips for Successful Expansion
What should we do with all this information? Let’s take it step-by-step.
- Consider whether an international hospital partnership might be beneficial to your institution. If so, reach out to professional and government organisms dedicated to facilitating this sort of partnership.
- If you’re going to expand on your own by targetting medical travelers, conduct proper research about your new patients: Where would they be from? Which treatments would they be in need of? Can your facility satiate the demand? What changes would you need to make?
- Turn your website into a device to facilitate and promote your international activities.
- Don’t save on translation and localization. Providing your potential patients (and partners) with the right information in their native language can help you establish yourself as authoritative and trustworthy. Relying on machine translation or hiring an inexperienced translator can erode that trust. This can have legal consequences.
- If your in-house teams are not prepared to make the leap, reach out to a consultant.