Now that we’ve addressed the “what” and the “why,” we turn our attention to the “how.” Through what channels are people who’ve chosen to engage in medical travel currently doing so; how do they find a doctor that will meet their specific treatment needs?
For our analysis we consider 3 categories: customers, enablers, and service providers. Customers include individuals, both insured and uninsured, insurance companies, some with a formalized medical travel option and some without, and employers. These customers’ search to find an international doctor is carried out either through direct contact, reaching out to each doctor of interest personally, or via a medical tourism facilitator. If you decide to contact the doctors directly, you’d start by creating a list of doctors in the region of interest, then proceed to contact each individually, and perhaps take the added step of validating the information you receive from them against that of a local doctor to see where their thoughts align and where they don’t. Alternatively, you could employ the services of a facilitator in which case you reduce some of your workload and perhaps find good doctors which you wouldn’t have otherwise. However, you lose some of the transparency since your initial connection with the doctor happens through a third party (there could be some misaligned incentives).
These two avenues pair the customer with a doctor as well as the other service providers (hospitals/clinics, wellness centers, recovery centers, hotels, transportation companies, and tourism operators) that come into play when seeking international healthcare. So whether you choose to perform your own search or enlist some outside help you will find a match…the question is, will it be a good match?
So this is how it’s done, at present anyway. An alternative approach is arriving in late 2011, funny, it falls conspicuously close to our projected launch date…
by Ellery Bledsoe & Alejandro Vega
Have you ever searched for a doctor abroad? How did you go about it? Tell us about it in the comments or send me an email: email@example.com