Singapore Island is currently positioning itself as a hub for medical tourism. The country’s health care sector attracts approximately over two hundred thousand patients from other countries on an annual basis.
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The country is strategizing on how to serve one million patients by the near future since this would form crucial source of revenue to the government.
The country is known to provide world class treatment based on modern-technology and best medical expertise.
One of the largest private healthcare facilities in Asia is found in Singapore with highly competent physicians and nurses. These hospitals generally deal with the treatment of wide scope of ailments and patient care.
Singapore’s hospitals also offer special clinics for international clients. The courtesy of their hospitals extends to receiving patients and their families from the airports and at the same time providing help on necessary arrangements.
This makes Singapore’s health care industry outstand amidst the 140,000 hospitals serving within Asian region. The Asian population is expected to grow at a higher rate by 2050, providing a potential base for healthcare business (Chantarapitak, 2006).
Singapore needs to beef up its medical tourism promotion through Medicine website. Such website would provide important links required to access Singapore’s major hospital chains, clinics, specific physicians as well as international patient centres.
The estimated regular tourist spending stands at $ 144 per day while that of medical tourists stand at $ 362. Coordinated national strategy within Singapore could be utilized to boost medical sector (Chantarapitak, 2006).
National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS) and its Services mix
The National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS) is a health facility found in Singapore specializing in the provision of cancer treatment services.
The facility became a national cancer centre in the year 1999 and has evolved through the years to become an established regional centre used for research and cancer treatment.
It became the first established one-stop multi-disciplinary centre where physicians are granted the opportunity to sub-specialize to deeply understand various types of cancer.
In addition the NCCS became the first centre to introduce various innovative services for patients such as establishment of fluorescence diagnosis in 2004 and drug-induced light therapy.
In addition the facility introduced use of Images-Guided Radiotherapy capable of enhancing radiation based treatment.
NCCS is known as a regional and national centre of excellence. The centre also offers services on cancer prevention and deals with Thoracic, Pancreatic, Head, Hepatobiliary and Neck cancers.
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These cases are attended by highly qualified oncologists having international recognition. This makes it possible for the centre to offer internationally recognized services with the support of nursing and allied health professionals.
The oncologists present at the centre provide comprehensive, multi-disciplinary cancer care services which include surgical, radiation and medical oncologists. The oncologists also conduct clinical and basic research aimed at prevention and treatment of cancer.
The nature of training of the physicians is also an important aspect used to market the hospitals. Professionalism of the physicians within the hospital acts as an added advantage and a tool for promoting quality services.
The websites of Singapore should feature physicians and their training backgrounds including academic credentials. This guarantees consumers’ confidence since physicians providing their care are trained in the best world institutions.
It is important for hospitals providing international care to encourage their physicians to obtain United States board certification which is used to signal international standard of training. Such certification helps medical facilities present an elite image within the international medical care sector.
Most of the private hospitals focus on attracting customers from around the world. This provides opportunities for medical brokerages and at the same time outsourcing of health services for the purposes of cutting down costs (McNeill, 2009).
The establishment of global market for health care services would benefit patients and the nature of health care delivery. However, both the advantages and disadvantages of medical tourism require consideration for the reality in experience and organization of health systems.
NCCS Brand elements
The company’s brand image determines its current position, future development and progress within the market. The brand elements of the company include an encouraging statement offering sense of hope to patients and the presence of oncologist with the ability to listen and provide treatment patients from diversified backgrounds.
The brand elements might not be likeable but provides the necessary information on NCCS activities and capabilities making it easier to memorize hence suitable for international market.
Such positioning within the global market provided by attractive brand elements has contributed towards NCCS recognition as one of the sole leaders in health care sector.
The facility utilizes the use of modern and upgraded technology hence providing patients with services associated with their preferred system. NCCS use elite professionalism as one of the aspects of pulling international patients, eventually; this has made them win considerable customer base hence an outstanding brand name.
The use of highly qualified oncologists and provision of one-stop integrated and holistic patient-focused services has helped the company gain popularity by serving 70% of all cancer cases within the public sector (Chantarapitak, 2006).
At the same time the facility offers excellent work environment to its employees and this contributes to the company’s good image.
However, for NCCS to strengthen its coverage there is need for reinforced relationship with consumers and other potential partners like prestigious colleges within the global marketplace.
From technological view-point NCC works with facilities which ensures comprehensive digital document handling services, from storage to retrieval, and this is to the benefit of international customers.
Such approaches helps the company to consolidate its relationship with potential customers and at the same time the provision of services prove cost-effective since it makes it easier to deal with loyal customers.
Such applications are usually considered of profound advantage within the competitive market environment especially in the effect that majority of the players apply modern technology (Kotler and Keller, 2007).
The company’s involvement in training seminars within various countries all over the world and offering assistance in the building of institutions contributes towards its established image.
They offer learning services focused on educating consumers on quality health care for the purposes of preventing future occurrences of cancer.
The company’s image could as well be promoted through active involvement in environmental issues where they utilize their own resources to meet environmental objectives.
Their concerns for the general health of the community enables them earn great favour with consumers (Kotler and Keller, 2007).
Three pricing methods Used by NCCS
Singapore owns the biggest share of the international patient market in Asia ahead of other regional competitors like Bangkok. The basic money unit in Thailand, baht, was devalued making it difficult for Singapore’s hospitals to compete for clients since the prices of other regions were lower (Chantarapitak, 2006).
This made the government officials and hospital management to forgo discount offered on surgery market. At the same time the government invested in research and development making the country boom as a service economy.
The investment was geared towards transforming the city-state into centre for biomedical activities. Despite the prices, Singapore’s hospitals were marketed as leading destinations for quality treatment hence attracting international interest (SCRI, 2001).
Participants within the international market usually charge different prices on the same good depending on the region of operation. The decision is based on various factors prevailing within the country of operation such as economic conditions.
At the same time different marketing objectives may determine the pricing strategy adopted for various countries. Setting of international prices is also determined by consumer perceptions on the services provided and costs.
In some occasions, services that appear relatively inexpensive at home carry higher price tags within other countries owing to differences in market conditions (Larson and Lusch, 1992).
The nature of population of Singapore makes it possible for the government to draw international patients as well as medical specialists (Chantarapitak, 2006). There’s need to prevent the brain drain within health care sector and maximize on institutional efficiencies.
Such move would also help in promoting economies of scale. With the increased influx of international patients to Singapore, there would be notable increase in hospital revenue and increased number of specialists owing to majority of health care providers’ interest in Singapore.
Most of the medical equipment would be affordable to hospitals leading to increased contribution of health care to Singapore’s economy (Grimwade, 2000).
This represents the act of pricing goods and services based on geographical zones. Prices can at times be charged based on the distance covered for the good or service to reach the intended consumer.
Zone pricing is when the company sets its prices based on zones (Magretta, 2002). Customers from a given zone are entitled to single total price; hence the distance plays an important role in pricing of commodities.
Base-point pricing is the process where a seller identifies specific city as point of reference when calculating total costs and prices of goods and services.
At some point international consumers basically use prices to judge on the product quality. In this kind of pricing, sellers base their mathematics on psychology of prices rather than the economics.
Higher quality goods and services are perceived to be higher priced than the actual cost. Consumers normally resort to price level for the purposes of judging the quality in cases where they are unable to judge quality based on information and skill (Rosenbloom, 2007).
The reference price is reached after comparison between current, present and past prices. Consumers’ reference pricing can then be used by sellers as a means of setting price of goods and services.
One of the major determinants of consumer response towards goods and services within the market is the level of price attached to it. Prices also determine the degree of loyalty to a particular brand.
Higher prices always have the tendency of turning away potential clients. It is necessary for International companies to adopt new technologies capable of assisting them in improving their marketing abilities. This ultimately helps in building strong reputation within the market of operation.
Evaluation of prices through customer perspective is a very crucial aspect and helps in contributing towards the Company’s performance internationally.
It is important for the company to adopt the use of Business Score Card system since this assists the company make clear focus on customer centric measures which include; lead times, on-time delivery services, customer index and consumer satisfaction levels.
Such strategies help in creating some level of uniformity in the way services are offered across various regions (Jaworski and Kohli, 1991).
The two possible partners recommended for NCCS are Joint Commission International (JCI) and Manchester Cancer Centre (MCC).
Since NCCS desires to compete favourably within the global market, there is need for creating a partnership with competent organizations capable of assessing the required international standards within the hospital.
Such international accreditation services are offered by an American company, which assists in assessing the global standards. Hence, NCCS needs to partner with Joint Commission International (JCI) which serves as one of the known organization providing international accreditation of hospitals services.
The body has regional offices in Dubai and Singapore and hence provides an opportunity to market NCCS since it plays crucial role in hospital marketing campaigns. JCI labels provide necessary signals that an accredited hospital offers quality and safe international services hence recommended for patients (Chantarapitak, 2006).
NCCS needs to promote cancer advocacy and research within other regions including Asia. To ensure this is accomplished, NCCS should partner with other national cancer centres in Asia.
At the same time, the facility requires more improvement within its research portfolio. Such provisions require quality training programs which can only be achieved through collaboration with such institutions as Manchester Cancer Centre.
Partnership with Manchester Cancer Centre (MCC) would help in enriching NCCS research capabilities since it believes in learning and sharing of information. The nature of trainings and credentials provided by MCC, help in shaping up the services provided by NCCS, within the global market.
This provides a good platform for NCCS in targeting international patients since they will advertise their physicians and nurses as those from elite learning institutions.
The issue on co-branding plays major role in enriching international health services marketing campaigns since they send signals on quality of care at affordable prices (SCRI, 2001).
Trainings received at elite institutions and partnerships with these institutions are used as tools to sell health services since the symbols used for advanced biomedical technologies provide an indication that the hospitals offer high-quality health care services.
For instance, Apollo Hospitals are known for their advanced diagnostic imaging suites (Paswan, 2003). Such institutions permit health care providers to undertake services at affordable rates which would otherwise be charged highly within United States. These facilities would help in protecting the image of hospitals in Singapore.
Marketing communication tools utilized
The communication objective suitable for promoting the company amongst South Koreans is building awareness and providing information. Hierarchy-of-effects model is often explained by use of pyramid comprising of various objectives.
International patients can be drawn to private hospitals within Singapore by use of various marketing tools. This can be done through various channels such as hospital websites, television commercials, newspaper advertisements, medical brokerages, press releases and word-of-mouth marketing.
The use of the internet provides easy access to medical and hospital information to international clients. Many prospective international clients are always concerned about the quality and safety of health services within Singapore (Chantarapitak, 2006).
The nature of quality of medical services has been identified as a major impediment to health services available at international facilities.
These calls for change of marketing strategies within the international market, such strategies should strongly signal quality, competence and high standards on international care.
Since the Company is new in South Korea, there is need to first of all establish its identity within the market. NCCS would use their brand name, the services they offer and present achievements.
This should be communicated through internet and social cites to capture the attention of consumers since majority of population in S. Korea use internet.
Detailed information on the nature of facilities, wide range of services offered with its rich base of oncologists could be communicated through the media. Such services should incorporate detailed information on the sub-specialist teams and their elaborate areas of coverage such as women’s cancers (Breast, Ovarian, Cervical and Endometrium).
Information should be based on the recent accomplishments of NCCS towards complicated matters, the recent being in 2006 where they established an expansive molecular roadmap of stomach cancer.
Also the establishment of a first-in-man mini allogeneic stem cell transplant capable of handling advanced nasopharyngeal cancer. Such kind of communication is capable of marketing the quality of NCCS services to patients (Rangaswamy and Van Bruggen, 2005).
The use of newspapers and magazines as communication tools could be utilized in the process of providing detailed information on NCCS and also making comparison between the kind of services offered at NCCS and other hospitals within the region.
The conviction might not automatically lead to purchase of the company’s services, hence the need to offer the services at affordable prices and at the same time promotional activities where consumers are allowed to access the facilities free of charge.
The best tool that can be utilized in this case is advertising since it is capable of creating a series of fulfilled mental effects within the consumers (Sinickas, 2007; Doole and Lowe, 2008).
The use of public relations could also be utilized since it helps in building good relationship between NCCS and Korean patients. This would make NCCS brand, more attractive hence promoting the company’s image within the new market.
Public relations would adequately expose the facilities strength and efficiency through available media. Using the media would help in familiarizing the market about distinct services provided at NCCS. Efficiency can be realized through public relations since it has the capability of creating stronger impact amongst the public at a lesser cost.
Conducting immunotherapy trials in Korea where patients are assisted in fighting cancer through reprogramming their immune system.
Such activity would provide good platform for relations since people’s attention would be attracted and eventually interested in obtaining more information about NCCS services.
Focus on effective use of public relations should be utilized since they have access to media channels including websites. This should be utilized in the process of providing necessary information to consumers.
Utilization of company’s local sites in marketing has quick identification and location of the various services offered by hospitals, free listing services and intensive sales promotion contributes towards capturing good percentage of market share.
Summary on the significant components of service brand equity in healthcare sector
The study examines the three significant components of service brand equity and the relationship existing amongst its components. The methodology approach of the study involved a survey which was done amongst two hundred and six respondents from the city.
The analysis of the data was then done by the use of statistical analysis. Brand loyalty and the nature of service given are all important aspects of marketing health care sector. At the same time brand image poses indirect effects on service brand equity.
Data used in the study was collected from city residents who were knowledgeable about health care sector and had at least four year experience with hospitals. This was seen as the only research limitation available.
However, the overall research provided the required information which can be used to enhance and sustain competition through service brand equity.
Table 1: Information on Journal Article
Singapore’s approach to medical tourism incorporates strategies capable of impacting the four functions of management.
This involves internal planning which incorporates quality of services and human resource management which ultimately narrows down to good financial management and creation of favourable working environment to all employees.
Focusing on external plans would ensure formidable partnerships with other potential companies, legislative influences and technological innovations.
However, in case of partnerships and collaborations, the hospitals need to account for demographical changes by offering equal opportunities to all its employees.
In such circumstances, service delivery mechanisms and information set-ups require much attention to ensure maintenance of quality standards.
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