The hospitality services as a differentiator for India as a medical tourism destination

medical tourism to india year on year till 2016

It is well known in the healthcare segment that economic and social development of a country also leads to changes in the nature of the diseases presented by the population. Problems such as leptospirosis, intestinal worms, malaria, dengue citing common to tropical and developing countries give way to heart disease, cancer, neurological diseases and others in more developed countries. The improvement in economic conditions of a country has an impact on families that alter their standard of living by contributing to the increase of problems related to factors as obesity, alcohol and drugs, also increasing the cost of some treatments and the flow of people seeking medical care and hospital treatments.

Within the hospital environment, the technology and constant advances in medicine allow doctors to have access to modern resources and equipment, providing patients with diagnoses more accurate and faster healing with less time of hospitalization. Medicine exists between two extremes, the high technology equipment with advanced techniques and the conservatism of medical practice based largely on studies and research. Although this is the reason of the existence of health institutions, the medical treatment has become a commodity that can be purchased almost anywhere on the planet with the same degree of accuracy and quality. A patient may begin his treatment with a doctor in a country and continue it with another doctor in another without major implications, as it already occurs worldwide with medical tourism. And this tourism can have a differential feel if India keeps up the pace to improve the hospitality towards patients while they travel from different nooks of the world.

Characterization of the extremes within the health care segment

Although there are changes in the nature of the diseases that affects people, the medicine and technology continually evolves to make ever more present in the hospital environment, the process of evolution and improvement should be no different in the human relations within the hospitals. Some changes have occurred in recent years as hospitals are not anymore perceived as a cold and sad place , the health care can be warm and the human relations still be restricted to the professional field if desired .

The hospitality services significantly reduce the tensions of patients and their families at critical moments of pain and weakness, helping to restore the dignity and making possible the patient/ client meet their needs. Despite the recognition and value placed by patients and visitors to hospitals that invest in hospitality services, the vast majority of hospital administrators seem to show no interest in humanizing the care provided to patients. The understanding of what is to humanize the care varies greatly from one professional to another within the healthcare segment and the same hospital.

Features of comfort and luxury services inside hospitals

To provide differentiated services for special customers considered VIP (Very Important People) in hospitals, goes beyond the cosmetic changes normally seen in some institutions. Initially it is important to differentiate between the different types of customers the hospital want to focus, creating an internal segmentation to guarantee that expensive services will not be delivered to ordinary customers, and important clients able to change public opinion receive no special attention. Some services may be extended to all customers, while others are intended for certain groups or to a highly select clientele. Some products and services can be universalized within the hospital structure due to gain in scale and become an important tool for promotion and marketing for the institution. Others may need to be directed to exclusive customers due to high costs as the provision of items of famous brands, rooms with larger dimensions and expensive amenities.

Among the products and services that may be offered or made available to customers are:

• Gastronomy, differentiated meals enhancing the smell, flavor and visual appearance. The ideal is to have a customized menu daily printed with choices to make possible the patient choose their preferred food every morning.

• Chef working with nutritionists and physicians in the composition of the dishes.

• Laundry room for guest use. Obviously not the same equipment used for the hospital, it is usually an internal business unit, or use a third party service picking-up and delivering the clothes.

• The outfit/material used in the suites need to be differentiated, such as Egyptian cotton and famous brands.

• Room Service 24 hours with varied menu, serving patients and families who wish to be served in the rooms.

• Pastoral/religious Care. It is important to have some contact with all possible religions, phone numbers, addresses, times, and if possible the name of a contact who can respond by the religion during 24 hours a day.

• Concierge or a hospitality team making daily visits to all clients.

• Hair dryer in the bathrooms of the rooms.

• Flat screen TV (over 32 inches).

• DVD players, cable TV or satellite music channels in all rooms.

• Internet wireless or Wi-Fi , with notebook or tablet renting services at the request of the patient.

• Amenities of famous brands such as Hugo Boss, Dior, Givenchy, or partnering with national brands according with each region or country.

• Provide a robe or gown for patients, even if only those who occupy the most expensive suites.

• Magazines and/or newspaper — preferably from the region or country of origin of the patient.

• Partnership with hotels in the surrounding area to facilitate access for patients and caregivers before and after hospitalization. Hospital staff can evaluate important factors in the hotel as room size, ease of internal movement, additional services offered, distance from the hospital, etc.

• Use of wood panels covering medical equipment. Embedded furniture with items such as refrigerator, TV screen, music system and other devices.

• Use of technology such as the inclusion of equipment in a single control, use pa lmtops, tablets and net books for registration and consultation of medical records and patient information.

• Provide virtual visits without predetermined times, sending flowers, messages and virtual cards any time.

The arsenal of resources for the hospital to differentiate their services is vast, as the discrete and alternative access for patients like authorities and personalities who do not wish to appear in the media. Some solutions are intangible, but with a big impact on the structure of the services, as the time spent on discharge in which the process is often time consuming considering the time between the physician information and patient discharge. Taking good care of the patient he will be loyal, always choosing to return where he feels safe and well cared for, even if the doctor leaves the institution he will return to the place he trust.

At heealthy, we make sure that patient will be kept in center of all thought processes and he will be the first factor the hospitals think when improving. This as a nation should be the first in the agenda if we are making the concept of medical tourism to India popular.