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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

What About Medical Tourism? In or Out?

Question: Hi Marc, question  for ya. I'm a successful entrepreneur between ventures. What is your take on medical tourism? I know it can be complicated and convoluted. But it seems to be a growing trend and I'd like to tap into it.
A.K. Cambridge MA

Answer Marc Charles:

Hey AK -- thanks for your note and question.

You are 100% correct about medical tourism. I have two good friends involved in the busienss on different levels.

You're also right about it being a little complicated.....and of course on some levels you'll be dealing direct with consumers.....which I don't like personally.

But there's no doubt whatsoever people are spending big bucks in this area.....especially with all the new (higher) health care taxes, regulations, red tape, waiting lines, etc. etc. in the US.

I wrote about this industry first in 2004. But the sector has grown probably ten fold since then.

I'm familiar with another entrepreneur who specializes in "dental tourisim" to Costa Rica.

So there are tons of options.

Here are some of my other thoughts........................

You can make money by helping people slash their medical bills ... while enjoying a vacation in an exotic location at the same time!

It's absolutely true.

I've been researching business opportunities (and profiting from them) for more than 20 years. 

Once in a while, someone will throw me a curve ball about a new business that has never crossed my mind. This is one of those businesses.

A friend and associate of mine recently returned from Costa Rica from what he called a "medical tourism" trip. Actually, it was a dental tourism trip. But the experience he described set my wheels in motion.

My friend needed some major dental work. He received quotes from several dentists in the U.S. 
The best price he could find was $16,000.

He decided to go to Prisma Dental in Costa Rica instead. His entire bill came to $6,000 — and that included his airfare, lodging, and ground transportation. That's a savings of more than $10,000. 

Plus, between dental procedures, he enjoyed a well-deserved vacation!

You're probably thinking that you would NEVER go to a doctor that you don't know, let alone one in an unfamiliar country. I had the same thought when my friend told me about his experience. 

Traveling to the ends of the earth to have a medical or dental procedure is certainly not for everyone.

But I'm not suggesting that you go into business organizing medical tourism junkets to some god-forsaken backwater with bugs the size of softballs walking on the walls of the doctor's office. I'm talking about introducing people to top-notch medical practitioners ... most of whom were trained in the USA or Europe.

In fact, the clinics I'm talking about are more technologically advanced than many of the clinics and hospitals that you find in North America and Europe.

The important thing to remember is that medical tourism is a rising trend. If this concept is marketed to the right target audience (aging baby boomers who have money, love to travel, and want to save money on medical or dental procedures), it can be very profitable.

Here are three ways to make money in this business:

1. Organize and promote all-inclusive medical, dental, and/or cosmetic-surgery trips to qualified prospects.
This would be fairly simple. You'd compile a list of 20-30 clinics that would be open to the idea. (And it appears there are hundreds of clinics like Prisma Dental in Costa Rica that would LOVE the extra business and would be willing to work with you.)

Then you'd ask those clinics for first-class lodging recommendations, preferably at all-inclusive type resorts or hotels.

Customers would arrange their own air transportation once dates have been set for their medical/dental procedures. In time, you could provide and organize charter air service (if you wanted to).

Promoting this business by running ads in the Yellow Pages, newspaper, magazines, and websites would probably be a waste of time and money. Your marketing objective would be to reach qualified, targeted prospects via direct mail. One way to identify your ideal prospects would be to ask your clinic partners for a profile of their European or U.S. patients.
Another way to reach qualified prospects would be to advertise in targeted publications, my favorite being e-mail newsletters.

2. Work as a freelance marketing expert for overseas medical, dental and/or cosmetic-surgery clinics — and receive a percentage of every deal

The pitch is simple. You simply ask the clinic's owners if they would like new patients from the United States — and if they would be willing to pay a commission on any new business you send their way. I think you will be amazed at how receptive most of them will be.

3. Start a medical tourism search engine/directory — perhaps with open forums enabling patients to discuss their experiences.

The objective would be to help would-be medical tourists learn about the many overseas medical, dental, and cosmetic-surgery clinics. Users could search your directory using a keyword or phrase like "hip replacement." The search results would return all the clinics that offer that procedure.

You would charge the clinics an annual fee to be included in the directory. If, for example, you had 100 clinics in your directory and charged them each $79 a year to be included, that would give you $7,900 per year.

Once you've got the clinics in your directory, the hard part is over. You can then focus your energy on marketing and other business development efforts. I'm confident you could get plenty of advertising revenue from hundreds of related businesses: resorts, B&Bs and hotels, and so on.

I hope that helps!

Send me your thoughts.................
Your resourceful guide --

Marc Charles

"The King of Business Opportunities"

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