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Int Surg. 2010 Apr-Jun;95(2):108-16.

Classification and comparison of niche services for developing strategy of medical tourism in Asian countries.

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Department of Plastic Surgery, E-Da Hospital/I-Shou University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan, ROC.


Medical tourism is a new trend in medical service. It is booming not only in Asian countries but also in European and South American countries. Worldwide competition of medical service is expected in the future, and niche service will be a "trademark" for the promotion of global medicine. Niche service also functions for market segmentation. Niche services are usually surgical procedures. A study was carried out to compare different strategies for developing medical tourism in Asian countries. The role of a niche service is evaluated in the initiation and further development of medical tourism for individual countries. From this study, a general classification was proposed in terms of treatment procedures. It can be used as a useful guideline for additional studies in medical tourism. Niche service plays the following roles in the development of medical tourism: (1) It attracts attention in the mass media and helps in subsequent promotion of business, (2) it exerts pressure on the hospital, which must improve the quality of health care provided in treating foreign patients, especially the niche services, and (3) it is a tool for setting up the business model. E-Da Hospital is an example for developing medical tourism in Taiwan. A side effect is that niche service brings additional foreign patients, which will contribute to the benefit of the hospital, but this leaves less room for treating domestic patients. A niche service is a means of introduction for entry into the market of medical tourism. How to create a successful story is important for the development of a niche service. When a good reputation has been established, the information provided on the Internet can last for a long time and can spread internationally to form a distinguished mark for further development. Niche services can be classified into 3 categories: (1) Low-risk procedures with large price differences and long stay after retirement; (2) high-risk procedures with less of a price difference, and (3) banned procedures that are not allowed legally in home countries of foreign patients, such as stem cell therapy. In establishing a niche service, a high-quality, nonmedical segment should be integrated as well.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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