Storytelling for Health Tourism Marketing



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HAve You painstakingly developed a superb health tourism product and program?
Tell your audience about all the effort that goes into delivering your product and services.

About the Author

About the Author

Maria Todd is frequently hired as a consulting expert and trusted authority on health and wellness business development and operations. She helps medical groups, individual physicians, hospitals and ambulatory surgery facilities attract patients who travel from outside their local area to have surgery, or seek consultation from renowned specialists and surgeons.

Maria believes that storytelling is an absolutely essential part of your marketing stack. Learn why she argues that your efforts, skills, advanced technologies, and product development should never go unnoticed. It gives patients an assurance that there is a substance and quality behind your product and services. This is even more important when you are pitching a premium product or service.

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How to DISTINGUISH your health tourism brand and product from a boringly simple, indistinguishable appointment from the thousands of other health tourism sellers on the Internet.

A new twist?

So many health tourism sellers approach me daily via the Higowell marketplace, on LinkedIn, on Facebook, via my website, by phone and by email to ask my help to build their business. 

What frustrates me the most is how little they say about how much effort went into designing the perfect surgery packages for their ideal customers. 

While many haven’t built a “product” or a “brand” and are simply selling nothing more than appointments, there are a good percentage of healthcare providers (hospitals, clinics, ambulatory surgery centers, and surgeons or consulting specialists) who have made investments of time, money, consideration, and created a distinguishable product and experience at a health tourism destination. But many were never trained or informed about the importance of elaboration to  about what they did to plan, train staff, organize an experience, train staff, or how or why they took an interest in health travel and medical tourism in the first place.

Are you shooting yourself in the foot?

By their own actions, they perhaps unintentionally categorize their service, product, program, and packages as indistinguishable commodity packages that absolutely nobody cares about, competing on price, which nobody cares about until they learn what the money buys in value.

No one cares about your logo, company name, website, or how you believe you lead the industry.

They care about what your medical, dental, wellness or other health tourism product, service, experience will do for them.  Your backstory is essential to this.

  • Why did you enter health tourism?
  • How did you choose your procedures?
  • How do you explain your price? Is it reliable and transparent? How did you compare?
  • How long does it take to travel to your location from your key patient source markets? How many flight segments are between you and them? 
  • What is the average travel cost and time?
  • What do they get from you that they cannot obtain elsewhere?
  • How did you acquire the skills to prepare you to enter health or wellness tourism?
  • What checks and balances, quality and safety measures have you in place? How did you train your staff?
  • Did you develop a replicable “system” or “program” or do you merely offer appointments?
  • How do you ensure consistent results on that which you can control?

Every medical or dental tourism supplier needs four key systems to operate their business:

  1. A marketing system to generate a consistent flow of leads into your hospital, clinic, or surgery center. In the USA, SurgeryShopper is one option. It costs the provider absolutely zero if they qualify to SurgeryShopper’s rigid inspection and qualification criteria.
  2. A sales system to nurture leads, follow up on inquiries and schedule confirmed surgeries and collect advance deposits on bookings.
  3. A fulfillment system – what you do in exchange for payment of money.
  4. An administration system – a way to manage accounts, reception, human resources, staffing, logistics, care coordination, quote management, travel itineraries, contracts with suppliers and vendors, and more. Higowell is the leading tool that is purpose built for health and wellness tourism administration. In its first year, it has amassed over registered 900 users all over the world.

Customers won’t find out how great you are until they’ve purchased from you. 

But if your marketing and sales funnel don’t exist or aren’t functioning as they should, people will never buy from you in the first place to learn just how wonderful your service is. While you may rely on word of mouth in your local community, when you switch to global brand awareness, it takes, money, time, and know-how to perfect your marketing and sales systems. 
For many new health and wellness tourism business owners, marketing and sales are neglected out of ignorance or lack of perceived urgency. You spend your time building a product you aren’t really sure anyone will buy in large enough quantities to sustain your product, program or business over the long term. You focus on the exciting part, like order fulfillment. You run out of time and put off marketing, sales, and promotion thinking that you can split fees with marketing agents who will refer patients – unbeknownst to you that this business model is illegal in many places because of various healthcare consumer protection laws and regulations about fee-splitting, kickbacks, bribes, and transparency.
If you don’t make time to build and promote the story you’ll tell, you could end up putting lots of hard work and hours to build a health or wellness business that is worthless. 
Do you have checklists, failsafes, and systems in place to cover all the necessary roles of the business? If not, the two books I authored listed on this page give you a head start on these for less than the cost of an hour of my consulting fee. 
All these tasks and how you devised a robust product and delivery system are part of your story. You’ll be able to identify the roles in your business, define which tasks are associated with each role and create checklists for properly completing tasks.  This is actually a key differentiator that distinguishes your business from that of a mere appointment setter or an aggressive surgeon, dentists or consulting specialist wanting to attract foreign or out of town patients to their service.  But wait, there’s another benefit!  You could use this infrastructure to certify quality, safety, documented systems and more for an additional differentiator: ISO 9001-2015 certification. Very few medical, dental and wellness tourism suppliers have this distinguished and recognized certification that is recognized all over the world. If you can tell your story to the surveyor in oral, written and policy and procedure documentation to successfully pass your quality and safety survey, you can tell your story of your brand in your marketing copy, and bring an additional distinguishable qualifier to your audience that your competitors may not have.

How do YOU deliver a world class health or wellness tourism experience?

Tell it in a story as a part of your marketing and advertising plan.

Get practical advice and expertise you need
from Maria Todd
on this topic and related subjects

Maria is a bestselling author and a top healthcare industry influencer and thought leader. She has excellent references and a huge project portfolio spanning 40+ years in healthcare business development and management.

She holds 25 copyrights, several trademark registrations, and shares several patent applications for software inventions.

She’s been recognized with numerous industry lifetime achievement awards for her work in contracted reimbursement, managed care, physician integration and alignment, and health tourism in the USA and 116 countries. 

Books by Maria Todd on this and related subjects

cover mof medical tourism program development handbook
cover mof medical tourism program facilitator's handbook

Master Classes with Maria Todd on this and related subjects

View scheduled classes and learn which courses are available as a private Master Class just for your team at your location!


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This article was originally published in 2009 and has been reformatted for consistency with the current website design.

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