Effect of Tourism Industry Innovation on Elderly Care


The purpose of this research paper will be to assess the effect of the tourism industry on elderly care and service quality in management. The research paper will analyze the tourism industry in a global context and how this industry affects the service quality and management of elderly care. The research paper will assess the various subsectors of the global tourism industry which directly affect elderly care. The introductory part of the paper will introduce the topic to the reader by covering these aspects as well as the aspect of elderly care in the ageing society. The research paper will also cover a literature review of the various publications and documents that exist on the topic as well as a review of scholarly articles and textbooks. The research methodology section of the paper will cover a review of the research model that will be used to analyze the research information as well research methodology. The results of the analysis will then be discussed under the results and discussion section.

Introduction

The tourism industry in the global context is one that is diverse and very dynamic as new innovations are constantly being developed to meet the growing demand for tourism products. Many people are going for holidays today given the intensifying marketing activities conducted by industry players meant to create awareness of the various tourist destinations in the world. The global tourism industry covers aspects such as holiday destinations, travel and bookings, marketing tourism products such as holiday packages, hotel prices, holiday offers and travel discounts and developing policies and strategies that will be used to govern the industry. The various players and stakeholders that exist within the tourism industry include business people, investors, travel agents, hotels and transport agencies and holidaymakers (Buhalis & Costa, 2006).

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With regards to innovation, the industry has experienced a major technological innovation where many of the products and services used in the industry have become available over the Internet. Technology has played a major part in the revolutionising of the tourism industry as more tourism products have been digitised to meet the growing digital world. Customers can now be able to assess tourist information such as holiday packages, hotel offers and travel discounts online without having to visit any travel agents or travel booking offices. Technology in the industry has been able to revolutionise how people book their holidays which has enabled the industry to grow exponentially over the last few decades (Underwood & Makadon, 2010).

Another major innovation of the industry is the introduction of various sub-sectors that fall under the tourism industry where newer branches of tourism have been developed to deal with the various tourism markets that have emerged around the world. One of these sub-sectors is the health and wellness tourism industry which provides tourists or holiday makers with products and services that are tailored to meet their health needs. The health and wellness tourism industry also provides products and services to people who are travelling from their places or countries of residence for health reasons. This sub-sector of the tourism industry encompasses tourism products and services such as health and wellness products, spa tourism which involves spa treatments, massages, wellness spas and spa baths, retirement communities and alternative health services offered as part of tourism activities (World Bank, 2005).

The medical tourism industry which falls under health and wellness tourism covers any comprehensive therapeutic services that are meant to aide the health and wellbeing of the individual. The services that fall under the medical tourism industry include general surgery, orthopaedics, gynaecology, urology, dialysis and cardiology. These services are usually offered to individuals who have moved from their place of residence to other areas or countries to cater for their health needs. The medical industry also covers wellness spas which also fall under the health and wellness industry. Wellness spas are designed to cater to the heath and wellness needs of people who have travelled for treatment purposes under the advice of their doctors or physicians (Tourani et al, 2010).

According to the World Bank (2005), the health and wellness tourism industry generated about $40 billion dollars in one year which contributed to the over 846 million tourist arrivals experienced in the international market in 2006. When compared to previous years this was a marked growth of the industry demonstrating that more people were travelling to tourist destinations for their health and wellbeing. In the global context, the various tourist destinations that provide health and wellness services and products include Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Antigua, Guyana, St. Lucia, Grenada, Belize and St. Vincent. The Caribbean which is a world renowned holiday destination practices health and wellness tourism as well as medical tourism. Its expanding tourism industry has made it possible for these two types of tourism to be developed and marketed to various countries around the world. The health and wellness industry in the Caribbean is divided into four segments which include the medical tourism, nursing and elderly care, research and diagnostic services and wellness spa treatments. The diagram below represents the tourism industry in the Antigua region of Caribbean (CEDA, 2008).

Diagram
(Source: CEDA, 2008)

The major people who are affected by the health and wellness industry include people in need of specialised healthcare services and elderly people who want to travel for either medical or leisurely purposes. For the purposes of this research paper, the people who will be focused on will be the people under elderly care and how they are affected by the global tourism industry. Nursing and elderly care in the global context represents an alternative to the long term costs that are usually generated from private long-term care. The growing ageing population has continued to experience periods of under-service where the limited role of the state in elderly care provision has led to the neglect of many people under elderly care. The medical tourism industry has contributed to the provision of better elderly care services where research and diagnostic services have been developed within the industry to cover medical transcriptions and medical testing services (Gonzales, 2001).

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Apart from poor state support, the elderly care sector is one that experiences a myriad of other challenges such as the increasing and changing medical needs of elderly care patients as a result of various health problems that continue to plague the ageing population. These health problems have made it difficult for elderly care facilities to effectively manage the health care of elderly patients who are in need of specialised medication and antibiotics to deal with their various ailments. The changing health care systems in the world have also made it difficult to cater for the health needs of the elderly where insurance and medical costs create an impediment to accessing proper healthcare services. There is also an increase in health care demands for the elderly as a result of the various ailments and diseases that affect them. The elderly care sector is one that is generally in need of innovation whether it is service innovation, technological innovation, health care innovation or tourist innovation (Gonzales, 2001).

Literature Review

Innovation in the tourism sector is an important aspect as it ensures that the industry remains competitive in the global context by allowing organizations to create products and services that will ensure that they have a competitive advantage over their rivals. Innovation is therefore a constant market force especially in the tourism sector as it determines which organizations are meeting their customer’s needs. The global health care industry is different from other health care industries in the world since it requires high fixed costs and investments to manage the various activities that fall under the sector. Innovations that are able to reduce these fixed costs considerably given that the basic cost of health care is increasing can be able to provide alternative options to most elderly care systems. The emergence of medical tourism as well as health and wellness product/service innovations has made it possible to have affordable health care around the world through the use of tourism (Underwood & Makadon, 2010).

According to Verleye and Gemmel (2009), a definition for innovation in the elderly care sector was developed to expound on the meaning of various innovations in the global context such as technological innovation, market innovation, product and service innovation or innovation in the tourism industry. A framework that can be used to explain innovations in the elderly care context is known as the elderly care innovation framework. The dimensions that make up this framework include perceived innovativeness, the degree to which challenges are dealt with in elderly care and the elaboration of the innovation to the various participants of the elderly care society. This framework of innovation can be applicable to the tourism sector of innovation and conceptualization of ideas (Verleye & Gemmel, 2009).

Perceived innovativeness refers to how individuals view objects or ideas to be a unique concept of unit adaptation. Perceived innovativeness in elderly care refers to how products and services are developed to become unique concepts of adaptation to the intended market. The perceived innovativeness of the product in elderly care is important as it ensures that the general perceptions that the elderly have on the degree of change in the product or service. These perceptions are important in determining whether any improvements need to be undertaken in the elderly care sector (Verleye & Gemmel, 2009).

As discussed earlier, the elderly care society is one that experiences various problems which affect the delivery of health care services and products to the elderly people. Some of these problems as explained earlier in the research include the changing health care system, poor state support to the existing health care systems and the changing medical needs of the elderly. Under the degree to which challenges or problems in the elderly care society are dealt with, innovation plays an integral part as it determines what products or services need to undergo improvements to ensure that they are able to meet the challenges that exist within the elderly care sector (Verleye & Gemmel, 2009).

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Currently, service quality plays an important role in determining how health problems will be managed in the industry. However improving service quality will not be enough to deal with the increasing health problems of the health industry. Innovation has therefore become an important aspect in elderly care as service quality is no longer the most important aspect in improving elderly care. Health care initiatives have therefore been developed to ensure that there is a change in health care delivery by focusing on the needs of the elderly (Verleye & Gemmel, 2009).

The degree of elaboration deals with the innovative ideas generated by organizations which have been implemented and conceptualised into fully functioning innovations that are meant to improve the general operations of the organization. The degree of elaboration is important in the elderly care industry as it ensures that ideas meant to improve health care in the elderly care industry have been actualised and incorporated into the system. Initiatives that have been elaborated are generally considered to be innovative ideas under the elderly care framework. Innovation under the elderly care innovation framework basically deals with the ability of various service industries to develop new products and services that will respond to the needs of elderly people. These innovations and changes to the health care industry are meant to deal with the various challenges that arise in elderly health care (Verleye & Gemmel, 2009).

The elderly care innovation framework highlights the importance of innovation in the health care industry and any other industry that is involved in elderly care. In considering the health and wellness tourism sector and the medical tourism industry, the framework plays an important part in improving the service and product innovations created by the various players in the industry (Verleye & Gemmel, 2009). The main factor that drives the tourism industry is service delivery where the quality of services offered by the sector determines how well the industry is doing in the global context. This requires the various actors of the industry to undertake service innovation activities that will improve the quality of services offered to customers. Most of the common service innovations that exist within the industry are online booking, online inquiries and online information that are meant to help potential customers in their holiday booking plans (Weiermair & Mathies, 2004).

As the elderly care society mostly depends on service delivery for its proper functioning, service innovation becomes an important factor when developing tourist products for the health and wellness industry. Service innovation affects the forms of assistance that are provided to elderly care people as they travel for either medical reasons or personal reasons and it also involves providing residential provisions for these people during the wellness activities. Service innovation in the medical tourism industry involves developing products that will focus on the burden of the care giver during travel and also developing instruments that will be used to assess the wellness of the elderly care patient (Javier, 2004).

The medical tourism sector has been able to develop holiday respite facilities that can be used by patients who have been under nursing homes or specialised treatment facilities. Service innovations in the tourism sector affect elderly care as they provide better ways of relaxing while patients or the elderly people receive treatment in specialized holiday settings that also have medical facilities. Service innovations also make it possible for elderly caregivers to have a respite for themselves while their patients are receiving treatment for their ailments (Tourani et al, 2010).

Research Model

The research model that will be used in this research will be qualitative in nature where the research model will be based on exploratory research paradigms. Exploratory research involves obtaining gradual information on the subject where there are no previous theories and concepts that can be used to develop a research model. As this topic lacks any foundational theories and frameworks, the exploratory research paradigm is more suitable for this study as it will involve analysing the various facts and information that are available on the topic that is understudy. The aspects that will be dealt with under exploratory research in this study will include the types of industries that fall under health and wellness tourism (Jensen & Bard, 2003). The diagram below illustrates the types of health tourism that are available in the global tourism industry.

Types of health tourism
(Source: Smith & Puczko, 2009)

Methodologies

The research methodology that will be incorporated within this study will be based on descriptive qualitative research where observations on the health and wellness industry around the world will be used to collect relevant data. Qualitative research involves reviewing academic journals, books, scholarly articles and publications that contain information on elderly care as well as health and wellness tourism (Jensen & Bard, 2003). The table below represents the different types of services that are sought by various health and wellness customers in medical tourism.

Customer Type of Service % age
Elderly care patients Advanced technology 40
Care givers, family members Better Healthcare services 32
Elderly care patients, care givers Wellness health care 15
Family members Lower costs 9

The various services that are offered by the health and wellness tourism industry include wellness spa treatments, massages, surgeries (dental, cardiac, brain), steam baths, hip replacements and diagnostic services. The table below represents the prices that are charged for health and wellness services in the US and the Caribbean.

Low-end (Caribbean) High-end (US)
Massage Treatment US$30 US$125
Hip Replacement US$11,000 US$12,000
Major Cardiac Surgery US$12,000 US$50,000
Nursing/Elderly Care US$100/day US$200/day

Results and Discussion

Elderly care in the health and wellness sector according to the research findings focuses on the provision of therapeutic and health services that are meant to benefit the patient or person undergoing elderly care. Tourism in general is seen a process that allows an individual to engage in self-regeneration exercises that will allow them to relax. Health and wellness tourism therefore allows people to engage in these exercises as they receive medical treatment, diagnostic services or medical therapy to enable them to relax. As outlined by the diagram in the research model, wellness and medical tourism involve health services as well as tourism services to both elderly care tourists and individuals in need of medical attention. In the wellness tourism, the various service innovations that fall under this industry include leisure and recreation, yoga and meditation, sports and fitness which are all deemed to be important activities for elderly patients to ensure that their physical strength has been maintained.

Under medical tourism, the activities that fall under this subsector include therapeutic recreation; rehabilitation of elderly care patients for disease related and life style related illness, healing and recuperation facilities as well as occupational facilities for the patients. These services are particularly important especially if the elderly care facilities used by the patient are nursing homes and specialised care facilities which do not enable elderly care patients any form of relaxation or rehabilitation (Smith & Puczko, 2009). Other services that are offered by the health and wellness tourism industry according to Cooper and Cooper (2009) include hot spring bathing treatments, mineral water use in managing elderly care and water treatments. The various costs for wellness and medical services offered by countries such as the Caribbean have also been outlined in the methodology part of the paper. The comparison of the costs demonstrates that medical tourism service innovations can be affordable to the various people in need of such innovations.

Conclusion

This study has dealt with the effects of tourism innovations on elderly care within the global world. The research has assessed health and wellness tourism as well as medical tourism which are more directly related to elderly care. The study has shown that the health and wellness industry affects elderly care management especially with service innovations that are offered to elderly care patients during their medical tourism. The results of the study as well as the discussion highlighted in the study have demonstrated that the various innovations in the tourism sector affect elderly care and elderly care management.

References

Buhalis, D., & Costa, C., (2006). Tourism management dynamics: trends, management and tools. Oxford, UK: Elsevier Buttorworth-Heinemann.

Caribbean Export Development Agency (CEDA) (2008). Ten strategies for success within the Caribbean single market and economy. Web.

Cooper, P.E., & Cooper, M., (2009). Health and wellness tourism: spas and hot springs. New York: Channel View Publications.

Gonzales, A., (2001). Health tourism and related services: Caribbean development and international trade.

Javier, N.J., (2007). Health and wellness tourism. New Mexico: Lex Tourismo Publications.

Jensen, P.A., & Bard, J.F., (2003). Operations research: models and methods, Volume 1. New Jersey: John Wiley and Sons.

Smith, M., & Puczko, L., (2009). Health and wellness tourism. Oxford: Butterworth- Heinemann.

Tourani, S., Tabibi, S.J., Tofighi, S., & Zadeh, N.S., (2010). Medical tourism in Iran: an analysis of opportunities and challenges with MADM approach. Research Journal of Biological Sciences. 5(3), 251-257.

Underwood, H.R. & Makadon, H.J., (2010). Medical tourism: game changing innovation or passing fad? Healthcare Financial Management, 64(9), 112-118.

Verleye, K., & Gemmel, P., (2009). Innovation in the elderly care sector: at the edge of chaos. Belgium: Vlerick Leuven Gent.

Weiermair, K., & Mathies, C., (2004). The tourism and leisure industry: shaping the future. New York: The Haworth Press.

World Bank (2005). Overview of tourism. Web.

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