Quality of service and patient safety keys to position RD as a Health Tourism destination

The marketing of health services requires a major paradigm shift. However, since it is indisputable that health is a right that every human being should have access to, certain apprehensions are still created when we talk about an industry that generates profits for investors in the sector.

In the context of health and wellness tourism, we have an extraordinary opportunity to develop this market niche by offering a profitable service with high levels of quality, with a 360 vision, where all the actors are benefited.

We must emphasize that to ensure continuity, sustainability and the improvement of the standards of an industry that is highly competitive, an extraordinary service must be provided while generating true value for its investors, making it a driving force for more and better Projects.

Given the need to compete abroad and market our services, with medical tourism, without a doubt, the main favored are us, the Dominicans, who benefit from technology transfer, best practices, job creation, productive chains , currency capture and greater installed capacity in the health sector.

To successfully assume international competence, we must commit ourselves to a continuous improvement of the quality of service and patient safety. All parties involved are in need of improving their processes. We are taking the first steps to build a reputation as a country, ensuring an exceptional patient experience, based on building trust.

We see good opportunities to develop the market. We have started the race. Health tourism in the country is growing, but it depends on all of us the speed and success of its initiatives. Although we recognize that we have an important way to go and that we must work hard, the Dominican Republic is emerging as a destination of great potential for health tourism, we already occupy the place no. 5 as a health tourism industry, according to the Medical Tourism Index (MTI).

This positioning is not fortuitous, the perception of the country has been managed, supported by the quality of our professionals and medical centers. But we need to complete the cycle and integrate all the actors in the value chain.

We need to make strategic use of marketing tools to continue projecting a good image and building a good reputation. As a single body communicate our strengths and protect the fate of the intrusion of irresponsible professionals that is affecting our image.

Therefore, we are attentive and ensure a basic element of a marketing strategy: focus on the client and meet the needs of patients. In that sense, we must ensure that the patient’s experience is memorable.

It is a reality that we have great competition in more mature destinations that have the great advantage that they started before us and that they have found great support from different sectors, Costa Rica, Mexico, Colombia, among others. This situation forces us to accelerate the pace of continuous improvement and elevation of quality standards, as well as the marketing of our destination.

We reiterate, it is a joint effort that requires the integration of all sectors. We need to achieve greater synergy among all actors in the health tourism value chain, in addition to medical professionals and health centers: tour operators, hotels, airlines, universities, language schools, etc.

Countries that have been successful in this purpose and that have developed medical tourism on an important scale have had great governmental support for the promotion of the destination, facilities or incentives for the development of modern infrastructure, support of commercial offices around the world to logistic facilities for visitors.

In the Dominican Association of Health Tourism (ADTS) we have been working to create synergies through different agreements and approaches with different entities that have committed to the dissemination of the destination, such as Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Body Consult Accredited in the Dominican Republic, Asonahores, as well as other official entities that grant us their guarantee to generate confidence in the destination, such as the Ministry of Public Health.

Similarly, as part of the promotion and awareness strategy on the subject, in the ADTS we are preparing for the 4th International Congress of Health and Welfare Tourism, the most relevant event of the sector in the Caribbean and to be held in September of year 2018; It will bring together the main leaders of both sectors, health and tourism and will have the participation of experts and health tourism authorities from different countries. It will be a scenario par excellence for networking, learning, investment opportunities and presentation of services.

In addition, the Dominican Republic has an excellent instrument whose main purpose is to guide the health tourist about the destination: the Guide to Health and Wellness Tourism of the Dominican Republic, a journal edited by the Medical Tourism Association (MTA) with the collaboration of the ADTS. Recently its second edition was launched and includes a range of options for health centers, medical professionals, hotels and in general, an interesting representation of the main members of the health tourism value chain.

However, we have to go further to build an increasingly strong reputation. For a tourist to choose a destination, it takes into account, among other criteria, the perception of security of the destination, its travel comfort and proximity, fast access and availability of services, cost savings and as an essential element, the quality of service.

The Dominican Republic can show strengths, but we must continue to strive to raise standards and our health centers need to aspire to the achievement of international accreditations that certify the quality of their hospital institutions, in order to solidify the promotion of the destination.

We need to unite strengths with a destination already consolidated by its people, beaches and tourist infrastructure. As a cluster, focus as a true team, work hand in hand and we definitely become the preferred destination for health tourism in the region.

By: Amelia Reyes Mora. Vice President of the Dominican Association of Health Tourism.

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