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How international hospitals attract patients & insurers

In the era where people travel more frequently, be it for pleasure, work, retirement or medical treatments, private, international hospitals and clinics that offer international standards of care must find ways to attract their clientele. Besides the high quality of healthcare, international medical centers factor many different routes of attracting patients and insurers into their ranks. In today’s feature, Pacific Prime will explore ways international hospitals attract patients from around the world, and key challenges they face when providing healthcare to foreign patients.   

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The four clients groups and ways to reach them

The private medical sector can distinguish four major groups of international patients that receive care abroad. These are regular tourists, working expats, long-staying retirees, and medical tourists. Each of these groups has different needs, and international hospitals and clinics must first understand those needs and ways they seek information about medical help available.


Tourists seek medical help in an emergency situation due to a sudden illness or injury, and the way they’re researching their hospital options vary greatly from all the groups. Many rely on their tour guide’s recommendation. Some will call their insurance first to follow policy conditions and others will simply google their options.

Medical tourists

Those who travel abroad to receive medical treatment mostly look for high-quality treatments at the right price, and at the client’s convenience. Agents and third-party administrators play a huge role in attracting those type of patients, such as the facility’s own strong online presence, and in particular: transparent pricing, good reviews, fast and professional customer service channels, and well-designed and updated website, ideally in multiple languages.

Long staying retirees

This customer group usually seeks information about medical facilities among local expat forums, groups, and clubs, and relies on personal recommendations. Very often, the affordability of treatments or packages, and promotions and loyalty programmes will have a deciding factor in turning those groups into returning customers.

Working expats

While working expats are somehow similar to the long staying retirees, hospitals can work closely with HR departments on health promotion programmes and exclusive package prices (i.e., for check-ups) for the company’s employees. While with this customer group the financial side is not of the utmost importance, service levels and convenience are.

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The four pillars of (patient) attraction

Online presence

Clear and professional hospital website with transparent prices, social media, reviews, and well-set-up google ad words are crucial, as in today’s digital world, being on top of the search result and top of mind means winning or losing the business in a snap of a second.

Physical appearance and eliminating the language barrier

The physical appearance of the hospital building and staff is another crucial element of attracting international patients to the facility. Highly trained staff who speaks English and even other major languages is crucial not only on the corridors but on the client service side, too. Pre and post treatment communication with the patients must be efficient and professional, otherwise, the international client will shop around of his or her treatment elsewhere.

Price must match quality

However, all of that means little, if the price-quality equation is not being met. A top private medical facility, in many cases, should obtain international accreditations that confirm their service levels to overseas patients. This is quite important for facilities located in developing countries, where the local healthcare system is perceived as deviating from international standards. Quality of care also includes highly trained staff, not only fluently speaking in English, but also trained in handling patients from different backgrounds and cultures.  

Cooperation with the insurers

Last but not least, international hospitals that work with insurers and assistance centers must provide clear pricing schedules, direct billing arrangements, fast cost-estimates for treatments, accept GOPs, and regularly update insurers and assistance centers of new services and prices. All these steps build trust and good relations with insurers, so the hospital can become a top of mind facility when the client calls for a recommendation.

Get help choosing your IPMI plan based on the hospitals you want

In many locations around the world, such as China, Hong Kong, or Dubai, many of our clients choose their international health insurance plans based on the providers’ network, as they want to be sure the insurance will cover stay in the top private hospitals they know and trust. Pacific Prime’s international sales team knows the ins and outs of the local healthcare systems, insurers and network providers reputation in the locations we are present. Hence, we can advise our clients to choose the plans with the facilities that are right for our specific needs, such as maternity hospitals or other specialized clinics.

Contact our team today for a free quote, plan comparison, and detailed information on the best international hospitals in the region you’re looking for coverage right now.

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