Forecasting Taiwan’s Medical Tourism

Abstract

Today, many old people have been faced with a number of health issues and complications. These complications arise as a result of the changing lifestyles in almost all cultures. There have been programs that are developed in order to address these problems faced by the elderly. In this paper, we present a research study that has been done on the issue of medical tourism and how it has become a major industrial practice today. We have given an overview of Taiwan’s involvement in the industry, and hence giving us a chance to carry out a study in determining the demand and possible revenues from medical tourism from elderly foreign patients.

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Introduction

Medical tourism is a new term that has been applied in over fifty nations today. This is also referred to as medical travel, global health service care, or health tourism. Basically, this is a term that was initially brought into use by a number of travel agencies and some media houses (Bookman, 2007). The usage of the term would symbolize the exponentially-growing mode of practice in which people have been traveling from one nation to another in the need to obtain the necessary health care from international nations. In some other usages, medical tourism would be used pejoratively in referring to the healthcare practice in which the providers of the service would be seen traveling from their country of operation to other countries. The service can be obtained with the individual moving from his or her own country in search of medical care, or the provider of the medical care moving from his country of operation and bring the medical service closer to the patients in their home countries (Conrady & Buck, 2008).

Some of the services commonly sought after by travelers would range from a number of surgeries, dental care and replacement of dislocated or broken joints, cardiac surgeries and even cosmetic surgeries. However, it should be noted that virtually all kinds of health care services, with the inclusion of psychiatry, some alternative treatments and convalescent health care would be made available with medical tourism. In practice, both the provider of the service and the consumer of the health service will both use informal means of communication so that they do not know each other (Brown & Kelly, 2007). The major weakness with this mode of practice is in the possibility of causing losses to the patients and getting into the way of unscrupulous medical givers who may not be genuine. As well, patients might end up receiving compromised services in the very end. Today, there are over fifty countries that have been identified to offer medical tourism. This has been performed as a form of international industry and has been provided countries with the necessary revenues.

Looking at this medical form of practice from the global perspective, medical tourism has itself been used pejoratively since it may be during the tourism visits when the services are provided to them. For instance, the government of Taiwan recently declared to have its greatest determination so that the country can end up becoming one of the major medical centers for tourism in the world. In the year 2007, it was the time when the Taiwan Department of Health, TDH initiated a powerful campaign in promoting medical tourism to the highest level. The major focus was on the integration of the relevant resources so that the goal can be realized. Taiwan, therefore, has been one of the countries in the world known to have what is called medical tourism demand and revenue. This has been aimed mainly at elderly foreign patients. In this research study, we want to forecast Taiwan’s medical tourism demand and revenue from elderly foreign patients (Golanty & Edlin, 2009).

Literature Review

It will be agreed that the better the services provided by a given organization or business, the higher the number of clients and customers continue to show themselves. This has been the same thing with a country like Taiwan. In order to ensure that there is the provision of the best health care for all elderly patients and who are tourists from other destinations, there must be some considerations that have to be made like the issue of demand of the services from the patients. This means that, the more the patients are being seen in the country, the better the revenue and vice-versa. As well, the amount of revenue earned would be directly proportional to the number of people who are coming into the country as tourists (Mincher, 2007).

For very many years, the commonplace slogan in Taiwan has been ‘Taiwan Always Cares for Your Health.’ This has been the key slogan that has been made available to all the tourism websites, and especially with the Medical Tourism Organization. This has been a plan of the country in promoting its own standing as one of the fifty medical tourism centers internationally. However, over the last few years, there have been a number of issues raised that the country may not be in a position of realizing its goals. The main aim has been in the demand and revenue from elderly patients from foreign countries. In order to come up with the appropriate measures, there has been the need of coming up with a forecasting strategy that would seek to carry out research and come up with appropriate data and information through which the issue can be addressed in meeting the necessary revenues and putting in place the appropriate structures for the realization of this goal (Woodman, 2008).

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In order to achieve the necessary goals and income from patients who visit the country for medical attention, there should be the essence of marketing promotion. Without giving attention to this issue, it is quite true that the business operations would stay behind and be unable to meet the stated conditions. Lack of the necessary attention to these basic requirements for business would see a country in great danger. With a country like Singapore, there has been a decline in the revenues and demands from elderly foreign patients. This has been surpassed by countries like Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia and Korea who had been in the same statistical standing ten years ago. The need hence has been in the capturing of the necessary attention for all the medical patients in the global arena (James, 2007). This is through ensuring that all individuals who have been born in the era of modern globalism can combine issues of tourism, combine travel and adventure and at the same time go to the country to obtain less costly and effective medical attention. This would be provided to individuals at any age.

With the need of providing the best medical care for the elderly tourists who are coming into the country, it has been necessary for the country to carry out studies in getting the necessary projections. This can be applied in getting the underlying facts about the services offered to the elderly patients, the quality of the services, the cost of the services and the efficacy of the services in the deliverance of the best medical care to the medical tourists. This would be the only sure way through which the demands and revenues can be increased. This is something that has been under consideration with the Ministry of Health in conjunction with the one of Tourism and Cultural Heritage (Matsek, 2009). The initial enthusiasm from the government began in the year 2003 when the concept of the Health Tourism Guidance Task Force in Taiwan, HTGFT was initiated. The government-funded the ministries with over 35 million US Dollars, and the monies were to be released in bits until the year 2007. The money would also be used in developing better marketing strategies and developmental projects which were aimed at the promotion of the island’s services of medicine abroad. This plan had been expected to bring about a hundred thousand patients in a period of three years and result in the creation of three thousand jobs.

Taiwan has hence been willing to adopt two strategies. The first one involves the care given to elderly patients who have come for tourism purposes and get the appropriate treatment from there. This sees very many individuals coming into the country for such treatments. Since the journey may be purely for medical purposes, they may decide to add an element of tourism and see some of the major heritages tourism aspects in the country. With this first strategy, there is the need to ensure a serene environment so that the visitors would feel right at home in expectation of better healthcare. The other strategy is through medical travels through which medical attention would be brought closer to individuals in their home countries. In order for this process to run smoothly, the country has to set the necessary plan on the countries to be covered and how the coverage would be done (Glaser & Glosserman, 2008). So as to achieve the best results from this practice, the countries to be visited are carefully identified in ensuring that they provide the services that may not be effectively availed by the medical services of the very countries. Once that has been done, their income expectations would remain at a higher level.

Over the few years, Taiwan has been engaged in a serious mission in putting the necessary measures through which it can attract a considerable spectrum from all the international medical tourists. Through this strategy, it becomes quite easy for the country to realize most of its missions and objectives. It is also true that, despite the present weaknesses, there is very much strength which has been making the country more capable of competing with the other nations in the international settings. The overall projections have been a tune of 50-60 billion US dollars each year. There have been a number of strategies through which patients have been attracted into the country. Bearing in mind that the major focus has been on elderly patients, there has been the need to attract these individuals through the use of ant-aging substances of cosmetic surgical applications. This has been provided to these patients at lower costs hence ensuring that very many clients are attracted to the practice. This has particularly been attracting a lot of clients from countries like India and Malaysia. However, it is quite disappointing that there have been a number of services mentioned on the website that was not offered by then. This was addressed and everything was put in place hence ensuring that many people will have access to the services. There has also been the use of promotional strategies so as to reach the greatest volume of individuals (Frommer, 2009). Once that is done, a large number of individuals would be coming into the country in the need of medical attention, and especially the aged.

In order to ensure that the target population is given priority, there has been the need to outline some of the major problems that are faced by the old people today. Since the target population has been the elderly tourist patients, there was the development of a plan that would address the health problems faced by elderly individuals. This would give Taiwan medical tourism the greatest advantage in ensuring that it would effectively compete with the other countries that might be offering similar services. Some of these services giving the country the advantage have been the diagnosis and provision of treatment for liver diseases, solving of all dentistry problems, reconstruction of the face, use of Chinese medicines and frequent health checkups. These services are tailor-designed for the elderly. Upon their provision, very many people would be lured in getting the appropriate services hence promoting the incomes of the country from the practice (Matsek, 2009).

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Realistically, it is quite true that these islands have been offering extensive services which adopt modern medical expertise and resources so as to provide quality services to the clients. This is because of its populous provision of effective cosmetic surgeries, purpose-driven cardiovascular surgeries, and the use of orthopedic procedures in the diagnosis and treatment of tumors and cancers in advanced states. This has placed the country on top of all its competitors. Today, Taiwan is known to be one of the countries that have been offering value, and world-class specialists and doctors with the greatest capability hence being in a position of competing in the global arena. There is no doubt that there is a very high level and standard in terms of medical care for the elderly in the country. There is the provision of skill and maximum dedication in solving the problems of the elderly. This is something that is done by the nurses, dentists, doctors, and all other medical practitioners. There has been the need to capitalize on these strengths and advantages in order to realize the greatest revenue and projected demands from the practice (Yevgeny, 2006).

Research Model

For the research model, the aim is in understanding the demand and revenue from elderly tourist patients. The stakeholders here are the elderly patients who are in need of the services that are offered by Taiwan medical. This would bring the need in understanding the demand of these services from the clients and the projected revenues from the provision of medical tourism. My position before carrying out the study is that there is an increasing need for these services in the global arena and also, more and more people are willing to visit the destination for the services. This translates to the realization of greater revenue from the industry. In order to come up with the best results, it was necessary that we come up with hypotheses that were to become the guidelines for the study.

Hypotheses

The application of hypotheses is applied in research work so that the final results may be used in addressing the hypotheses, and see if the objectives of the study have been met. In order to ensure that the study was carried out in a professional manner, two hypotheses were formulated:

  1. There is an increasingly high demand for Taiwan medical tourism from the elderly tourism foreign patients.
  2. There would be increased revenue from the provision of medical tourism services to the foreign tourism elderly patients.

Methodology

Whenever undertaking a study of this intensity, it is advisable to adopt a good methodology that would be effective in giving the researcher the appropriate data and information from the study being carried out. Therefore, the study had to integrate a number of study frameworks so that our final results are not in any way biased. The methodology adopted for this study was convenient because it would help us get the proper information which we were able to analyze and come up with appropriate findings and discussions. In this study, there was the application of questionnaires were used in collecting information from different areas which are integral parts of Taiwan medical tourism. This would be done for all the people working in governmental departments, the ministries of health and tourism respectively. As if that was not enough, it was also necessary to come out and get information about the demand for the service from the number of elderly patients who had been visiting the country over the last ten years.

Another important thing to consider was the data that has been collected by Taiwan medical tourism. This would provide us the appropriate information on the trends of responsiveness with which customers and patients have been visiting the country for the treatment services. These areas are quite important in helping us get the true data on some of the services that have been given over the past few years. This would ensure that we are in a position of projecting the future performance of the industry. It was also necessary to distribute the questionnaires to the public so that they could give us their views on the industry and how they had learned about this service being provided by the industry and some of the benefits that have been gained from the industry. The majority of the individuals to be interviewed would be the elderly since the study had been aimed at getting the true picture of the medical services’ demand by the foreign elderly patients.

So that the data to be obtained would be significant, it was necessary to use the relevant questionnaires which were distributed to the person who would help in giving us the necessary information about the demand of the services and the projected revenues for the industry. So that the data and information to be gathered would be of high quality, it was very necessary that we distribute the questionnaires indiscriminately. The questionnaires used for the study contained open-ended short questions, and also the use of closed-ended questionnaires. We also employed the use of the country’s budget and Revenue authority in projecting the amount of revenue expected for the medical tourism industry. Some questionnaires were also made available ona the internet for foreign patients who had wanted to get some medical attention for Taiwan. This saw individuals of over forty-five years being required to fill in their details so that we can get unbiased information about the demand of the services by that specific age bracket who have some major complications and whose solutions have been effectively offered by the Taiwan medical tourism industry.

Results

From the study, it was noted that a greater percentage of individuals were willing to get medical services from the country than we had initially guessed. Most of the individuals interviewed, between the age of fifty and seventy, showed great demand for the major services and surgeries that are offered in the country. Some of the common services that were seen to be in great demand were: facial uplifts, especially with the aging ladies, therapeutics on tumors, and surgeries as well as joint replacements. This demand caused the tourism level to be boosted as more and more individuals continued to show their need of coming into the country to receive this kind of care. However, as the age increases, the number of patients aware and in demand of the services appeared to decrease (Yuan & Zheng, 2007). This might have been attributed to their inability to access technology and the means of advertisement that have been applied by the country.

In terms of revenue, there were similar results through which there was a projection of about 33 billion US dollars in the first half of the financial year. This is a positive increase from the previous statistics of 25 billion for the previous financial year. This can be attributed to the nature and the competitive advantage of the services that have been on offer in the country. There has also been an increase in the number of services that have been on offer. This has been diversified into other countries hence improving their performance. This has been resulting in overall economic development in Taiwan. Some of the major hindrances that have been noted to cause some hardships on the practice have been on the failed advertisements through the websites, failure to travel into most of the countries, and the rigidity of failing to move out of the continent in the provisions of the medical tourism services.

Discussion

From the above results, it shall be agreed that there is a future with Taiwan Medical Tourism. This has been achieved due to the strategies that were put in place by the government in 2007. This has seen the services being offered in the country being competitive enough so that the large number of individuals can be attracted from different corners of the world. Also, because of the increase in demand, their projections are that the expected revenues would be high (Peggy & Winter, 2008). Statistics have shown an exponential increase in the number of individuals who are willing to come to this country or wait for the Taiwan medical personnel to reach them in their own countries. This has led to an increase in the number of revenues that are being collected by the industry. Forecasting the business for the next two to three years, there are signs that huge amounts of revenue would continue to be realized. In order to ensure that this is done, there should be the need to put in place all the necessary operations and structures so that the facilities and services being offered by the country to the tourism elderly patients do not become outdated and inefficient.

Conclusion

In conclusion, if everything continues to be done the way it is being done, and with the maximum support of the government, there are possibilities that the country would become the best solution in the provision of medical tourism to the elderly in the world. This is because there have been a lot of structures, improvements and researches that have been put in place in ensuring that the patients get the best services from the industry (Woodman, 2008). Therefore, it would be necessary to advance the practice into all the third world countries in Latin America and Africa where there have been many people facing the major health complications that come with old age. That way, Taiwan will be in a position of generating the highest level of revenues from its medical tourism industry.

References

Bookman, Z.C. (2007). Medical tourism in developing countries. London: Penguin Books.

Brown, S. & Kelly, R. (2007). Taiwan. Kaohsiung: Oxford University Press.

Conrady, R. & Buck, M. (2008). Trends and Issues in global tourism 2008. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

Frommer, A. (2009). Ask Arthur Frommer: and travel better, cheaper, smarter. London: Penguin Books.

Gahlinger, P. (2008). The Medical Tourism Travel Guide: your complete reference to top top-quality. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Glaser, B. & Glosserman, B. (2008). Promoting Confidence Building across the Taiwan Strait. Taipei: Oxford University Press.

Golanty, E., & Edlin, G. (2009). Health and wellness. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Greenberg, P. (2007). The Complete Travel Detective Bible: the consummate insider tells you. Taipei: Oxford Business Group.

James, L. (2007). The Report Taiwan 2007. Taipei: Oxford Business Group.

Matsek, P. (2009). The Complete Idiot’s Book: Medical Tourism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Mincher, B. (2007). The Secrets of Money: A guide for everyone on practical financial literacy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Peggy, T., & Winter, T. (2008). Asia on tour: exploring the rise of Asian tourism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Woodman, J. (2008). Patients beyond Borders Taiwan Edition: Everybody’s Guide to affordable health. Taipei: Allyn and Bacon.

Yevgeny, N. (2006). Diaspora networks and the international migration of skills. Cengage: Cengage Learning.

Yuan, W., & Zheng, X. (2007). Taiwan economic forum. Kaohsiung: Royal Books.

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