Authoritative Information for Medical Tourism Facilitators, Travel Agencies and Tour Operators

Medical Tourism Facilitators, Travel Agents, Tour Operators and Case Managers

The roles filled by competent and professional facilitators is vital to the success of medical travel and health tourism business.

If you are thinking of starting or growing a medical tourism facilitator service and starting from scratch with little to no existing knowledge of medicine, dentistry, mental health, thermalism, or travel planning, you may find it necessary to arrange for private training or coaching.  This is possible via VOIP (e.g., Skype, WhatsApp, etc.) or in person at your location or at the trainer's location.

I've created a document you can read to learn more, found below:

remote consultations and coaching for medical tourism startups with maria todd


Access the Medical Tourism Facilitator Readiness Brief to Begin

Medical Tourism Startup Costs: What to Expect, How Much to Budget

Many of the email inquiries I receive from visitors to this website and to my LinkedIn posts ask me what they should expect in terms of startup costs for a medical tourism business.  The best answer I can offer is that it depends on your situation. It isn't a straightforward answer, but with a little time and effort you can come up with some numbers to create a realistic budget if you know what to research and calculate.

  • It depends on what you want to do as a medical tourism startup involves many things and many variations.
  • The amount is also dependent on the training you need to fill gaps in knowledge to enter the business and if you are going to self study or pay for coaching and pay to whom and their rate. 
  • Startup cost also depends on the market research you are willing to do personally or commission a competent analyst to gather and interpret and provide you an action plan and strategy based the findings.  (Think: S-O-A-P)
  • Also, it depends on your business readiness and what is necessary to fill any gaps in your operational, documentation, software for quotes and referral management, etc., and any "necessary" certifications or accreditation (not all medical tourism facilitator certifications are necessary or valuable).
  • You will also need to define your local, regional, national, or international brand, create the brand, and drive awareness of the brand through imagery, messaging, placement, positioning, graphic design, website, and paid advertising as well as tactical use of social marketing and other free and not quite free options.
  • If you are already established as an international or local brand, you may benefit from a brand audit.
  • You'll need legal advice to develop contract templates with trading partners
  • You'll need accounting advice to develop a revenue strategy, taking into account foreign transactions and taxation of export services. If you are not skilled in cost accounting and pricing for your services, you may wish to ask the accountant for assistance in this area as well. 
  • You'll need training to coordinate care and assist you in foreign communications. This role is best filled by someone with medical or nursing training rather than a layperson, but it can be learned. The reason I mention this is because there are issues of altitude physiology, post op complications, pre-op evaluation of comorbidities, foreign medication reconciliation and knowledge of medical terminology, anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, and more. In this role, the facilitator will also handle medical records transfer, digital transfer of imaging if required, and expected patient privacy, internet security and confidentiality and privileged communication in accordance with your local laws and the local laws of the client, if in a different jurisdiction.
  • You'll also need travel agency partnership or a staffer trained as a travel agent once your volume picks up because there are commissions to be earned on travel bookings.
  • You'll need a ground services coordinator that greets the patient at the airport and sees them off at departure and coordinates appointments, transfers, and other activities as a quasi destination manager. For their services, they should be in a uniform with your logo on the chest of a polo shirt or jacket.  
  • You'll also need a car service that has an appropriate vehicle for the type of patient you'll attract. If orthopedic, the vehicle must be large enough to seat the patient with ample leg room for the patient and the companion, crutches, braces, etc. So it cannot be one of those tiny taxis hailed on any corner or taxi rank at the airport or hotel. The vehicle must be insured, inspected and driver history and criminal background vetted. You'll need a contract that addresses your requirements for both car and driver. You should also have criteria prior to contracting with anyone to avoid allegations of favoritism or refusal to deal with qualified vendors.
  • You'll need a budget to make site inspections at your own expense. Most hospitals and none of the individual practitioners have budget set aside for clinic inspection tours but they may host you by paying your hotel stay or making arrangements with their preferred accommodation providers if they believe that you offer revenues. Just know in the back of your head that they have been burned by facilitators in the past who started without sufficient financial buffers and ended up paying a lot and getting not even one referral or inquiry. One model I've seen is to reimburse your reasonable site inspection costs upon the completion of your first surgical case with them. That's better than nothing.
  • Finally, you'll need a cash buffer or line of credit to sustain operations through your first 18-24 months as your new startup grows and begins to attract patients because you'll have ongoing expenses and may not have revenues earned to cover your base for several years. Too many facilitators crash and fizzle and go out of business in fewer than 18-24 months because of inadequate capitalization.

Start with those figures and I am sure it will lead to other items you'll realize in short order.