Although early predictions of skyrocketing profits in the medical tourism industry haven’t proven to be entirely founded, there is a market for trustworthy travel agents specializing in medical travel. Increasingly, that includes both domestic and overseas travel, as significant savings can be found within U.S. borders as well as in countries like Thailand, India and Costa Rica. If you have a penchant for travel and a great approach to customer service, you may consider starting a medical tourism company.
Write a business plan. Determine how many customers you can feasibly handle while giving top-quality service to each of them, and what prices you’ll need to charge in order to cover your costs and make a profit. Your planning should also let you know whether you need to obtain funding to cover the cost of offices or insurance until your business is profitable. Get feedback on your business plan from seasoned entrepreneurs or travel agents, or the volunteer counselors at the Service Corps of Retired Executives.
Obtain certification as a travel agent or agency from your state if necessary. Each state has a different licensing requirement so check with your state’s website or department of licensing. In areas where there are no licensing requirements, you may still need to have formal training in order to be considered a reputable travel agent, and professional liability insurance is a must.
Determine which areas and hospitals will offer the highest quality medical care at a significant cost savings from those in your area. You should spend significant time researching the qualifications of various hospitals, and may even want to travel to them yourself in order to verify the credentials of the medical facility and staff. Select hospitals that you would be comfortable at for your own triple bypass, and develop relationships with their financial and admissions offices.
Investigate accommodations, private nursing services and gentle activities such as nature walks or beaches to lie on in the area of the medical clinics you’ll be working with. Make sure the facilities are clean, comfortable and handicap-accessible, and within a very short distance of the hospital or clinic.
Market your business. You may wish to target small employers that are self-insured, or the uninsured or underinsured who must pay substantial costs out-of-pocket. Additionally, primary care doctors that feel they can trust you to ensure a good continuity of care for your patients might be an excellent source of referrals.
Always be reachable by your customers, 24 hours a day. They and their medical care providers must feel as comfortable with you as they do with their own doctor.
Make sure your customers understand the potential drawbacks of having medical care done in other places, such as a diminished ability to sue for malpractice or the difficulty of getting friends and family members to their side in the event something goes poorly.
- Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images