In his Second Opinion column, Dr
Constantine Constantinides from healthCare
cybernetics looks at the tendency
to “overrate” and “underrate” new ideas and concepts and how this is reflected
in the health tourism sector.
How we perceive the impact of new things
An observation made by Roy Amara, an American
Futurologist was brought to mind by a recent article in
the Economist (25 February – 2 March, 2012). When it comes to relatively
new things, we tend to overestimate their impact in the short run – and
underestimate their impact in the long run”. The article talks about the
internet and online retailing but the mantra seems to apply just as well to the
economic impact of health tourism (which, of course, includes medical tourism.)
Ignoring the short-term …to focus on the long-term
cybernetics (hCc), we are known for ignoring the triumphalism and buzz
associated with the introduction of “great new things” in order to focus on
assessing their impact in the long run. We do not dismiss new things “out of
hand” but prefer to consider and assess them more soberly.
But there is a fine line between vision and delusion …and
the occasional need for a reality check
I have listened to my
fair share of stories related to great ideas and concepts which will have an
important economic impact (and maybe I am even responsible for relating some
After subjecting “stories” to a reality check – and seeing
how they eventually “pan out”, I came to agree with those who claim that there
is a fine line between vision and delusion.
The sustainability of ideas and concepts
As with the “internet bubble”, many new ideas and concepts
have value and prospects but things get spoiled by unrealistic expectations in
the short run. Furthermore, new ideas and concepts often need to be to
“modified and adjusted”, based on the initial response, to make them broadly
acceptable to the market.
In the long run and in the end, good ideas and concepts will
survive, succeed and prove sustainable.
Why I place my faith in the long run
I am known as a champion of health tourism and for having
great faith in it. But why? Some of the reasons are listed below.
We are already seeing a “shake out” in the industry. The
irrelevant are making room for the relevant. Serious and sober professionals
are replacing “starry-eyed” and greedy opportunists (or “hucksters”). Long-term
investment and commitment is replacing the “quick buck mentality”.
Investment includes time, money and effort to cultivate the
market. And very importantly, to convert health tourism from a “have to” - to a
“want to” activity.
We hope that the concept and practice of integration which
hCc is promoting, will lead to the expansion of the industry to address a much
broader market. New entrants will have an advantage because they are not
burdened by “legacy baggage” and hopefully, will not repeat the mistakes of
Rather than seeing imitation as the road to success, new
entrants and exiting players will embrace innovation (which in my view, is the
only way to gain a competitive advantage). They will learn to segment and
stratify the market, and will see health tourism more in terms of regionality, as
opposed to globality.
At the end of the day, sector “deep insiders” will still be
around to provide leadership and reap the benefits.
Investing in concepts and practices...which will make the sector sustainable
As a think and do tank, hCc has been introducing concepts
and innovations aimed at expanding the industry, broadening the market and
making the sector sustainable. These are listed on our Health Tourism
Innovation site. Admittedly, some of these concepts and innovations may need to
wait until the industry and market can digest and embrace them. But such is the
price one pays for forward thinking and doing.
Dr Constantine Constantinides runs healthCare cybernetics, a “think and do tank” with a recognized competency in Health Tourism Integration and Development. His home base is on the island of Samos in Greece.
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