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Information search to travel abroad for medical treatment : an empirical study
conference contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by Anita MedhekarAnita Medhekar, Leonce NewbyLeonce Newby
Globally, medical tourism is one of the fastest growing healthcare service sectors. Various hospitals in countries such as Thailand, India, Singapore, Malaysia, Mexico, Switzerland, Poland or Austria, offer complex state of the art surgeries, non-surgical diagnostic and other alternative treatments. When making a decision to travel abroad for medical treatment, potential medical tourism consumers use a variety of sources of information to find information about countries and speciality hospitals. Sources range from previous personal experience, through family, friends, to print and television media, personal physician, medical travel agent, health insurance policy provider, medical tourism advertising campaigns and trade fairs. It is widely acknowledged that there is an enormous amount of health and medical tourism related information available on the internet.The way medical patients as consumers search, choose, evaluate and appraise information, regarding their choice of country, destination within the country, hospital, doctor and holiday is important, since sources of information about availability of treatment, doctors, hospital accreditation and destination country can influence a consumer’s decision to travel, or not to travel, overseas for treatment to improve their health and well-being. However, the information available is of variable quality. The search cost, time and information search skills of potential medical consumers affect their selection and assessment of information about the treatment, physician, hospital and destination suited to their health and medical related travel purposes. However, there is little empirical research into medical tourism information search, so the qualitative research of Medhekar and Newby (2012) is drawn upon to provide the foundation for the research study into medical tourism information search reported in this paper. The objective of this empirical paper is to explore the information search techniques of medical tourists as consumers of medical tourism products and services using quantitative data and to investigate medical tourists’ experiences in searching for and appraising various sources of medical tourism related information before embarking on their journey abroad for medical tourism.