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The medical tourism industry in Singapore

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Marketing
Wordcount: 5322 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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1.0 Executive Summary

The medical tourism industry is in a rapid state of growth, both in Singapore and globally. Growth in consumer demand for health services delivered by foreign medical professionals continues to grow for a variety of reasons, including insufficient regional health care systems and the growing expense of performing domestic procedures in their countries of origin. Sometimes, booking a medical tourism package is simply an excuse to visit a foreign land whilst also to consolidate their travel interests and save costs. This growth in medical tourism provides enormous opportunities for launching Singapore MedTours and ensuring it can grow and be sustained.

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Medical Services Tourism is not without many business risks, including high levels of competition from intermediary companies designed to help consumers plan itineraries for medical services. There are also risks to the client that must be considered, including ensuring that they fully understand their own health risks so as to secure liability factors for the business itself. In terms of strategic objectives, a comprehensive risk management system must be developed.

However, outside of these risks, profit potential is quite considerable due to the large customer demand that exists in many different foreign countries. Singapore was chosen as the country to launch the new Medical Services Tourism Company because of its award-winning infrastructure, the ability to raise new capital through a variety of means and even for the education system that can provide quality employment for the business by skilled professionals. Singapore is ideal for Medical Services Tourism and this business plan provides a comprehensive plan for the launch of the company.

2.0 Business description

Medical tourism involves availing medical procedure in a foreign country. Westerners form a large segment of medical tourists who are attracted to quality healthcare and large savings as compared to the medical costs in their own countries. The patients then can take a vacation in the host country after receiving their medical treatments. Often patients can cover their surgery expense, flight and hotel accommodation charges for quarter of the operation cost they would have paid in their country (Puah, 2008).

The Company would be named Singapore MedTours and it will be a Private Limited Company (See Appendix 1). Singapore MedTours is a start up company with an onsite facility for receipt of travellers and to satisfy their inquiries on medical tourism. The company will gain profit from several different business activities related to the tourism industry in Singapore.


Our mission is to provide a Safe, Affordable and Quality health care options to our customers through world class health care system of Singapore.

Key to success

Our Clients

The experience of our clients in medical tourism is of utmost importance to Singapore MedTours with a commitment to excellence as a health care family.


Singapore MedTours has prioritized safety as number one focus. The health care providers & destinations would be scrutinized in order to provide our clients the safest health vacation possible.

Attention to Detail

The service and medical providers involved with Singapore MedTours would be conscious of every minute detail to ensure clients a relaxing and professional health vacation.


Patients would be given to open access to the best doctors and surgeons through transparent and honest information availability on all aspects of Singapore MedTours.

2.2 Industry background

The medical tourism market has nearly doubled in recent years, and is currently valued at over $20 billion every year (Gaddum, 2010). This makes medical tourism ideal as a profit-generating business with huge growth potential. “Medical tourism fills a valuable niche that is desperately needed in countries with bureaucratically flawed or unaffordable healthcare” (discovermedicaltourism.com, 2008, p.2). This provides incredible opportunities for Singapore MedTours to use innovative marketing tactics related to the deficient systems in place in relation to health, at the international level, to bring more people to Singapore for their chosen medical services.

2.3 Goals and potential of the business ( Revised version needs to be updated)

According to Singapore’s minister of trade and industry, “Singapore is a good place to raise funds, both equity and loans, including venture capital” (Satapathy, 2003, p.1745). Singapore was chosen as the start up location because of the ease of access for funds related to the launch as well as securing future loans or capital for improvement and expansion of the business. Because of the quality availability to investment funds and other loan-generating entities in Singapore, the business has several goals for short term gain:

Build a sustainable business firm which can achieve profitability by 2012.

Build a positive business reputation with a variety of banking institutions through different marketing partnerships to assist in capital production.

Expand the business by 2014 to include another foreign intermediary location to improve profit and global exposure in this industry.

Increase total profitability by 40 percent at year’s end 2013.

There is a great deal of competition in this industry; they will be described in detail. However, a long term goal of Singapore MedTours is to create a internationally-recognised name in medical tourism that outperforms competition. There is massive potential for creating a strong marketing presence internationally based not only on growing consumer demand, but because of the systems already in place in Singapore to assist in developing a sound advertising programme with higher global exposure.

2.4 Uniqueness of service

Singapore MedTours will have several unique features designed to make it outperform competitive entities in this industry.

Med relief would offer a low-risk guarantee to enable the customers in moving forward with their medical tour with a strong faith. In any case if after arriving at the destination, the conditions of treatment seem unacceptable to the client, we give the liberty to cancel the surgery. The only charge the client will be responsible of is the air fare and accommodation.

To our knowledge, we’re the only medical tourism company that offers this type of protection in Singapore.

Also MedTours would be unique in supplementary services related to non-medical tourism that will improve profitability and improve the word of mouth reputation for the business. Offers the founder of Scotland-based company Globe Health Tours, “This is a huge word of mouth business” (Crawford, 2006, p.1). Therefore, Singapore MedTours must be equipped with high quality service dimensions that please the travelling tourist and also improve customer relationships using certain CRM systems (customer relationship management software and databases). It will be unique for its dedication to satisfying both medical and non-medical needs that are linked to specific consumer demands from many international locations.

3.0 Marketing

Marketing will be crucial to the success of this new business launch because of the importance of word of mouth to the company. With high levels of competition in this industry, an improved and superior marketing presence must be available and the funds needed to make this a reality allocated to this effort.

3.1 Target market identified

There is no one, singular market available to this business because of the ability to capture the attention of many different consumers hailing from many international locations. “No two patients are the same, either in their needs or the type of journey they either want or require” (newsweekshowcase.com, 2010, p.1). This means that it would be quite difficult for the business to isolate a single target market strategy that would fit the needs of the majority of travellers who look toward our services.

Target market

Based on the market survey conducted, Med Relief will focus on target markets which are of high growth potential. The market is divided into the following segments which in turn will provide the company with clear focus to direct its marketing strategies

Geographic segmentation – American citizens more specifically North Americans

Demographic segmentation

Age: 45-65

Income: U.S $24000- $70000 who are either not insured or under insured

Psychographic segmentation: Customers keen on quality of service and not bargain hunters.

US Medical Tourism Market

According to the Market indicators United States medical tourism has got good prospects in coming decade and beyond. In the United States, medical surgeries are very expensive, and every year millions of Americans default to pay for the health care expenses they require they are either uninsured, uninsurable or underinsured. According to a study in 2007 50% of bankruptcies are related to medical crises (Star Health Vacations, 2010).


3.2 Market size and trends

In 2006, Singapore drew 410,000 international customers that received medical services in the form of liver transplants, cardiac surgery, and joint replacement (Hadi, 2009). And this number of outpatients will exceed 1 million by 2012, with forecasted value of 3 billion USD (The Internet Journal of healthcare Administration, 2010). Scotland-based Globe Health Tours experienced a 600 percent increase in business only after six months of operations (Crawford, 2006). In all, Singapore Medical Tourism is aiming to become a leading health care destination in all Asia and it witnessed a steady growth of 11.9% per year from 2004 to 2008 (prlog.org, 2009).

3.3 Competition

Intensive competition exists in medical tourism, both internationally and in Singapore itself. Therefore, the company must create strong marketing presence and advertising know-how to make the business outperform competition step by step or service by service.Within the country, there are currently 29 hospitals that already provide health services to foreign travellers, with services being performed by over 7,000 physicians and 15,000 registered nurses (health-tourism.com, 2010). Because these hospitals already have contracts and/or relationships with other health tourism agents, there is a great deal of marketing work that needs to be performed by the business to make it stand out and be the preferred agency for these profitable customer groups. This well-developed network of physicians and agencies can be quite risky to the business model and require competitive focus to ensure high commissions and improved customer preferences for this company. This is something that the business and its expertise is prepared for in areas of management and organisational design.

Direct competitors

U.S agencies operating in Singapore: There are several U.S based medical tourism agencies which provide health tourism services to patients in America. The companies are similar to each other only differing in the fact that they are tied up with different hospitals in different locations.

Health Base Medical Tourism Agency

Treatments covered: Cosmetic, Ophthalmology, Orthopaedics, Dental, Eye, ENT, Obesity, Cardiac Spinal, LASIK,

Planet Hospital

Treatment Covered: Heart, Cosmetic, Dental, Obesity, Fertility, Orthopaedics, Elective, Cancer

U.S Agencies operating in other medical tourism countries: These agencies are tied up with budding medical tourism countries such as India, Thailand, etc… Key players include World Med Assist, Indus health, Quest Tourism, Med Journeys, Med Retreat

Indirect Competitors: In addition there are several foreign based medical tourism agencies who market their services directly in the U.S. these agencies are usually country specific

Health Tours India

Medical tourism China

Medtral New Zealand

SWOT Analysis of Singapore MedTours


Well trained staff with heavy focus on building customer relationship before and after their stay in Singapore.

Creating an easy to use Website and employing advance Customer Relationship Software to attract and retain clients interested in Medical Tourism.

Singapore is ranked 6th in world for the quality of health care provided by the World Health Organization (WHO)

Medical tourists should not be able to witness chaotic events during their stay in comparison to the other Asian countries as it Singapore is urbanized and clean country.

JCI-certified hospitals and healthcare facilities are found in abundance throughout Singapore.

English is one of Singapore’s official dialects.

Though the cost of healthcare in Singapore is not as low as India or Thailand but they are still lower in comparison to Western Europe and the USA.


The cost expenses in medical processes and treatments in Singapore are relatively high when compared to other Asian medical tourism countries like Thailand, Malaysia and India.

The geographical location of Singapore is such that the climate is rather hot and humid which maybe a hindrance to the westerners especially during the post procedure and recovery stages.

Accommodation, transportation and the cost of goods in Singapore is more expensive as compared to other Asian countries

The travel times to Singapore are considerably very lengthy for the US medical patients.


World-class tourism service industry present in Singapore can help in recruiting best talent for the Medical Tourism.

High market Growth – Healthcare services from countries with aging population increasingly seek medical tourism.

U.S. workforce is seen to be increasing more in context to globalization

Low-cost global air travel had made Singapore all the more accessible for inbound patients.

Employers and health plans targeting commercial populations have become accepting of the various benefit of medical tourism

Growing demands for medical tourism by Baby Boomers.


There is seen to be fierce competition posed by other Asian medical tourism countries like Malaysia, India and Thailand.

Popularity of Medical Tourism may encourage more competition to open business in Singapore.

New technological breakthroughs can make previously very expensive healthcare affordable in the client’s home country.

3.4 Estimated market share

Assuming that the rate of people seeking medical services continues to grow at the same pace, with 410,000 people entering Singapore for this purpose, market share can only be estimated based on the high volume of competition in the country. Taking into consideration potential growth, in one year, to 475,000 people, and the presence of pre-established partnerships with other intermediary companies, it is best estimated that the company can achieve about 10 percent market share in the first year and improve this margin to 20 percent by the end of 2011 due to marketing know-how and improved service capabilities. (MARKET SHARE ESTIMATES REQUIRE CORRECTION, IT WILL BE DONE BASED ON CALCULATED FINANCIAL PLAN)

3.5 Market strategy


MedTours intends to work on a clear positioning statement of “Quality you cannot Deny” which encourages customers to have complete faith in the company. The company will position itself as a truly reliable and friendly agency with utmost importance given to customer safety. The point of difference which separates the company from its competitors is the Quality Guarantee what the company provides and the idea of personalization of medical tours. This will help the company stay competitive while being positioned as a differentiated medical tourism agency.

To be able to live up to the positioning the company will tie up with best in class hospitals and service providers with highest priority given to details of service dimensions. The company will purchase advanced CRM systems to improve overall delivery of customer services.

The business will use, as one marketing strategy, advanced training for its employees related to customer service to make the short encounter with the company one that is remembered over other intermediaries that bring such high competitive forces.


Singapore MedTours will offer best of the medical services present in the Singapore by getting tie-ups with world-class hospitals of Singapore. Specific focus will be made on JCI-Accredited (Joint Commission International) hospitals like Alexandra Hospital, Changi General Hospital, Raffles Hospital, Parkway Group etc; so that inbound patients from US and other countries are assured that they are getting best quality service in a very safe environment.

The agency will coordinate patient transfers that it receives from overseas hospitals and acts as a referring agent to cost-effective local hospitals in Singapore based on their own unique needs. The agency will make profit by charging commission on these transfers and any additional profitability received from supplementary, non-medical tourism that might be booked through the agents or its online website.

Services Offered By Med Relief

The company plans to make all the possible arrangements for the US medical tourists to undergo and avail world class medical treatments in Singapore. For this the company will do tie-ups with Hospitals and Clinics that offer quality medical services to foreign patients. Personal preferences of patients would be given priority to select best hospitals and doctors.

Singapore MedTours will make arrangements for initial consultations between foreign doctors and the patients. To help patients make a confident decision, phone conference between patients and the surgeons will be arranged for. 

It will assist the client with schedule procedures and all the necessary travelling documents such as visas and passport, and also arrange for financing facilities if needed.

Singapore MedTours would assist the patients to make complete arrangements with hospitals and doctors, and coordinate patient’s travel itinerary.

Once the clients have arrived Singapore, Singapore MedTours will coordinate admission and all details during their stay. The patients will be strongly monitored during their recovery period, and once the health care providers determine patient’s discharge a relaxing recovery vacation will be arranged for.


Singapore MedTours will have a dedicated well-furnished office from where its entire staff can operate. Also in this office the customers would be received first and will be given initial briefing about the Medical Services they would be going through as well as general information about Singapore, its culture, famous tourist attraction etc. The main purpose of the office would be to make sure customers have one single easily identifiable and approachable location from where they could satisfy all their queries and solve their problems during their stay in Singapore.


Approximately 78 percent of all medical travellers use the World Wide Web as their first choice for booking medical tourism (medicaltourism.com, 2010). Because of this high volume, market strategy will include a strong Internet presence that will require the expertise of information technology specialists to give the business a colourful, interactive and engaging online booking experience. The majority of the business will likely come from Internet exploration, therefore the budget must be allocated to a web design that outperforms competition and has the necessary information to make Singapore MedTours their first choice in booking their travel needs.

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The first publication of choice to improve visibility and awareness in customer groups will be the Medical Tourism Magazine, a bi-monthly publication that is distributed in a variety of international countries. Costs for these ads are $4000 for a full page ad and $2000 for a half page ad (medicaltourismassociation.com, 2010). This is a respected and well established advertising publication that will give Singapore MedTours better marketing presence. The company will purchase half page ads several times yearly to update its literature based on consumer research and success with other marketing formats.

Additionally, web-based advertising will be part of the ad strategy that includes links to visit our business website on partnership or contract agreements with different hospitals, travel agencies, and physician websites. The goal of this rather inexpensive advertising method is to simply give the company more ad presence and ensure budget needs are met. Since most customers will not visit the business location prior to making their travel needs, web presence is vital to building higher profit and consumer demand.

3.6 Pricing

Cost of Medical Treatment in Singapore

The $6000 Rule

If the procedure would cost $6000 in the U.S. financial savings might not be realized by the patients even if the same surgery costs $1500 in other country. By the time the airfare, accommodation and stay charges are covered patients may only realize a break-even scenario (Med Retreat, 2010). Hence with careful consideration the following procedures would be offered by Singapore MedTours.

Comparison of cost between Medical procedures in USA and Singapore


Hospitals in USA

Hospitals in Singapore

Average Savings

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

Face Lift (Rhytidectomy)

$19,000 to $21,000

$6,500 to $7,500

60 to 65%

Breast Augmentation / Reduction (Mammoplasty)

$9,000 to $11,000

$7,000 to $9,000

18 to 20%

Liposuction (Lipoplasty)

$14,000 to $16,000

$4,500 to $5,500

60 to 65%

Cardiac Surgery

Coronary Angioplasty

$42,000 to $57,000

$11,500 to $13,000

70 to 77%

Heart Bypass

$55,000 to $130,000

$13,000 to $18,500

70 to 80%

Heart Valve Replacement

$130,000 to 160,000

$12,000 to13,000

90 to 92%

Orthopedic Surgery

Hip Replacement

$24,000 to $43,000

$12,000 to $16,000

50 to 65%

Hip Resurfacing

$45,000 to $50,000

$13,000 to $15,000

70 to75%

Knee Replacement

$38,000 to $42,000

$12,000 to $13,500

65 to 70%

Spinal Fusion

$60,000 to $63,000

$8,000 to $10,000

80 to 85%

Other Procedures

Stem Cell Transplant

$200,000 to $25000

$72,000 to $90,000

60 to 65%


$19,000 to $21,000

$5,500 to $6,500

70 to 75%

Source: http://www.health-tourism.com/singapore-medical-tourism/

The costs of operating the business, fortunately, will not necessarily be extensive because it is not a product-based business but one built mostly on service dimensions and quality. However, there will definitely be a need for executive and support leadership in a variety of customer service and marketing roles, and these costs must be recaptured. Commissions as the intermediary will be priced at the following rates:

Hospital referrals for invasive procedures: S$500

Hospital referrals for non-invasive (outpatient): S$300

Hospital referrals for multiple procedures: S$750

Pricing for non-medical services (approx. average): S$500 (adjustable)


Referrals are priced at these high commissions due to the fact that costs must be recuperated and, without the talents of this company and its leadership, the referral hospitals would not have otherwise had this high-profit business clientele. These prices will be adjusted higher or moderately lower based on consumer attitudes and the volume of patients referred. Non-medical services might be lower or moderately higher based on the duration, location and nature of their supplementary needs.


Since this is highly service-oriented industry and the mission of Singapore MedTours is to have best customer experience as possible, so Singapore MedTours will make sure that it will hire competitive employees. Furthermore sufficient training would be given so as and when needed in order to cope up with market demands and competition. Lastly special packages and policies will be design to reward and retain the best employees of the firm.


Process is extremely important part of any Service-oriented industry. Hence Singapore MedTours will make sure that its process is as efficient and as customer-friendly possible. Quality Control would be done regularly to identify and improve any bottlenecks and promote the best practices.

Reviewing and approving online membership forms Once application is approved information is provided allowing consumers to make an informed decision.

Discussion with our Director of Facilitation To obtain basic information from clients regarding their priorities and expectations

 Assignment of an U.S Consultant to the patient who would cater to patients medical needs by designing a health tour plan


Authorization Release Form collection by the consumer to collect and disseminate the information.

Sending digitized copies of client’s medical transcripts to the affiliated doctors. 

Submission of Medical Questionnaire to best inform the surgeon of patient’s medical history


Collection of Expectations Form and Desired Travel Dates to ensure that the surgeon can decide if the end result can be achieved. Potentially two travel dates will be collected.

Hotel reservation the information is to be obtained in this stage in order to be able to provide price quotations to the clients.

Assisting clients in acquisition Passport/Visa

Submitting the price quotation for the health tour to the client

This is avoid any further confusion and also to provide relevant information to the client.

Arranging for a Facilitating interaction between the client and surgeon

the process will be coordinated via email in this stage. The teleconference charges would be paid by the company.

These next 3 processes must occur concurrently

Task 1) Book Client’s medical consultation and surgery dates with the preferred doctor and hospital

Task 2) Book client’s Air Travel Itinerary which best suits the preferences

Task 3) Reservation of accommodation for client

Client’s credit card number would be required in this process. The card wouldn’t be charged in advance but act as a tool for reservation purpose only.

Deposit of necessary funds of health tour into Med Relief’s U.S. holding account

Confirmation of task1 and task 2 once again after the payment is received: Sending client the confirmation and also detail information of travel destination so the client can be make the best of travel experience.

Assigning Destination Program Manager (DPM) to the client

Services of a Destination Program Manager (DPM) will be offered upon arrival of client. DPM will receive the clients on arrival and be their Personal assistant throughout the visit. This person will accompany you to all your doctor’s appointments and medical treatments.

Arranging for Pre-Surgery consultation with the surgeon

This process would be completed within 24 hours of client’s arrival. The surgeon would review medical transcripts and tests to ensure that procedure can be performed on the specified dates.

Assistance to client during Surgical procedure and post surgery recuperation

After the client would be discharged from the hospital they would be accommodated in resort or hotel to begin recuperation process. During this time your main focus will be on recuperation

Arranging for Post treatment vacation

Obtaining of authorization letter from surgeon an enjoying vacation would be arranged for in Singapore.

Assisting for safe Return home of the clients

Upon clients arrival in U.S, USPM would be available to assist with any further requirements.

4.0 Operations

Operational aspects of how the business is managed and structured will be key to its success.

4.1 Identify location

The main requirements of indentifying the location for our business are: Low cost per square feet, large pedestrian volume and easy access to transportation (Abrams & Kleiner 2003, pp67-68). Thus, after searching on the internet and checking the reality of the information with the agent, following address can be an alternative to the location of our business.


This location, compared with other places, satisfies the above requirements. The charge for buying this office is expected at around 570,000 SGD, and by using the yellow line MRT routine, the dense population of UBI become bigger and bigger. Also two MRT stations (Tai Seng and Macpherson) are very near to the location (gothere.com). The business prefers to buy the office instead of renting because in 3-4 years time the amount of rent paid would be equal to the total value of the office and since Singapore MedTours is looking for long term viability of the business hence it is buying the office.

Source: http://www.gothere.sg/maps#q:52%20ubi%20avenue%203

4.3 Zoning

Various Districts of Singapore:

C:DKDocsSBEImagessingapore_district_map.jpg Source: http://www.propertyhub.com.sg/images/M_images/singapore_district_map.jpg

The Zoning of the office was carefully selected while keeping the following considerations:

The office should have as low as possible per square feet cost.

It should be present in or near the heart of the city.

Also the office should be near the Changi International Airport.

The current identified location of the office is in district 14 which is quite near the Central Districts 6 – 12 of the Singapore. Simultaneously the location is near the District 17 in which the Changi Airport is located. It is very important for the office to be near airport as majority of its firm’s clients would be international medical tourists who would be arriving via air-travel.

4.4 Taxes

The low tax rates and positive and encouraging business policies give Singapore a reputation of attracting FDI. The taxes in Singapore are much lower than most others developed countries and regions (Asia Biz). What’s more, the tax rates have continued to decline significantly over the years(Appendix 2). Therefore, from the tax perspective, Singapore is an attractive nation to do the business. Overall, to our service business, the following kinds of taxes are needed to be considered before starting the business:

Income Tax:


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