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Estimating health tourism in the short term – and the long term

Research into medical tourism

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

At healthCare 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 myself).

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 predecessors.

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.

Comment

Profile of Dr Constantine Constantinides

Constantine Constantinides

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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