Keith Pollard

Editor in Chief of International Medical Travel Journal (IMTJ), Executive Chairman of LaingBuisson International

Keith is one of Europe’s leading experts on medical tourism and cross border healthcare, attending and contributing to major conferences across the world on the subject. He has been responsible for many initiatives in the sector including the first patient guide to the EU Directive on Cross Border Healthcare, a Code of Practice for Medical Tourism, a Good Practice Score for Cross Border Reproductive Healthcare, and research into patient experiences of medical tourism and an initiative to collect meaningful data in this emerging market. He is responsible for the development of consumer-focused medical tourism sites such as Treatment Abroad, and the B2B publication,  IMTJ – International Medical Travel Journal. Through his IMTJ Blog, he provides valuable insight into the medical travel business.  His career has embraced the pharmaceutical industry, the marketing and management of private hospitals in the UK and internationally, and consultancy, research and feasibility studies for healthcare ventures.

Presentation title: ” Developing a medical travel strategy for a hospital or clinic”


The session will consider the necessary market analysis and research that you need to undertake and how this can direct your adopted strategy. It will examine the need for competitive advantage and service differentiation in medical travel and how you can develop a Unique Value Proposition.

There are now more than 80 countries and a multitude of hospitals and clinics that are seeking to become medical tourism destinations. Governments, national tourism organisations and healthcare businesses across the globe are involved in the “medical tourism gold rush”.

But for many destinations and healthcare providers the pursuit of medical tourism gold has been in vain.

There are a multitude of reasons why success has proved elusive. But there are some common themes:

  • Investment in healthcare facilities and medical tourism services has been made on a “if we build it, they will come” approach.
  • National medical tourism strategy has been poorly thought through. Programme leaders have not recognised that success in medical tourism is dependent on:
    • Identifying profitable market segments and market niches that match the nation’s capabilities and those of its healthcare providers.
    • Fully understanding the needs of the target markets.
    • Developing a brand and medical tourism offering to meet those needs.
    • Raising awareness within and effectively communicating the benefits to the target audience.
  • Some countries have embarked on the promotion of medical tourism without ensuring their readiness to handle the diverse needs of international patients. They have failed to deliver the brand promise.
  • Some countries have quite simply paid a great deal of money for poor advice!

Destinations and providers often enter the sector with little thought or planning of where they want to be and how to get there.

A healthcare provider’s initiatives around medical travel may be haphazard and lack clear direction.These initiatives fail to deliver a sustainable return on investment.

Developing an effective medical tourism strategy involves:

  • Understanding the market.
  • Quantifying the market – The goal must be to quantify the size of the consumer and business markets for your services.
  • Identifying need – which source countries have sustainable demand for what you have to offer.
  • Meeting that need – Matching the needs of the target market with the competencies of your country and the hospital or clinic.
  • Understanding consumer perceptions – Do they know about you already? If so, what do they think of you now?
  • Identifying competitive advantage – What are the motivators / inhibitors to travel for treatment? Is the market interested in what you have to offer? And why should they choose you?