The dynamics of medical travel have changed since the pandemic eased. With evolving patient demands, medical travel businesses and programs are transforming their models to adapt to the changing business climate and meet these new demands. One important area that is often overlooked is staff training.
Staff training is in no way a new concept as it has always remained crucial to business growth and success. However, with the shifts going on in the medical travel space, it is important for businesses to equip their teams to better adapt to these changes and function at a higher level. Organizations that do not quickly adjust to meet the increasingly evolving medical tourism landscape will face a tough road ahead.
What are some of the benefits of training your staff on medical travel best practices?
Improve the quality of output
Quality is one of the key drivers of business success. The quality of output for a medical travel business or program, in turn, depends on the skills and knowledge of your staff about the unique needs and expectations of medical travel patients. In rebranding your medical tourism business, recurrent training of the current business landscape and patient expectations helps to position your staff to deliver quality service.
Staff training involves all staff units of a medical tourism business. For instance, patients seeking to undergo cancer treatment look out for, among other things, the quality of treatment services, success rates of your treatments, risks of complications, and follow-up care. If your program offers cancer treatment services, it must staff medical providers with the right expertise and training in delivering these services in line with global best practices.
Your international patient department also should be constantly trained in understanding patient needs and meeting them during every communication. Patients’ questions regarding cost of care, travel logistics, and treatment and post-discharge follow-up need to be answered with clear, detailed information. More often than not, a patient’s first interaction with a medical travel program is with the international patient department, and a poor impression often leads patients to look elsewhere.
Builds Cultural competence
Staff training in cultural sensibility is key to helping medical travel businesses understand the nuances in patient demands and expectations. One of the mistakes some medical travel organizations make, which negatively impacts patient experience and, in turn, your brand reputation, is not meeting patients’ needs in line with their cultural contexts.
The target of staff training in this regard is to build cultural awareness and for staff to understand the cultural nuances that affect care and the patient experience. For instance, patients have different culturally appropriate needs in terms of diet, clothes, cross-cultural communications, and even healthcare services.
For instance, if patients are not eating well, it might not necessarily be a medical problem but due to not having the appropriate food choices. It is important to have a conversation with health consumers about what foods they find appropriate and involve them in the meal planning. For instance, if a patient is a vegetarian and is from South Asia, they might find English vegetarian foods unappetizing and may turn down meals. Further, marshamallows and jellybeans are not suitable for Muslim patients as they contain pork byproducts, hence not Halal.
Additionally, some medications are made from animal products, which in certain cultures, is not appropriate for consumption. Gelatine, for instance, is not Halal hence may not be suitable for Muslim patients or even vegetarians.
Health consumers are more likely to choose medical tourism organizations that provide perceived high-quality services. During initial patient communications, patients often pay close attention to your program’s healthcare offerings, and safety structures. Is there a strong infection control protocol in place? Are there concrete measures to detect and respond to infection alert?
Health consumers also do their due diligence to assess the competence of your healthcare staff, using data on treatment success rates, complication rates, mortality rates, and the qualifications and training of healthcare providers. Further, international patients examine the ease of communication with staff as well as the ease of getting information, and a staff that is highly trained in these areas win the trust of health consumers.
The presence of a culturally competent framework of healthcare services as well as the quality of other services, including transportation, accommodation, and post-treatment care makes a medical travel program more reliable and trustworthy.
All of the areas above ultimately impact the patient experience - one of the key metrics for evaluating a medical travel organization. The patient experience covers all aspects of the medical travel journey from departure to discharge, and even post-discharge care. This requires a nuanced skillset and training to understand patient needs at every stage of the continuum and meet these needs effectively.
Patient experience, therefore, is tied to how much you know about your patients’ needs and how informed and skilled you are at meeting these needs. This, therefore, is closely tied to the cultural awareness of your staff and associates. From the first point of interaction with a patient, via website or contact with the international patient department, to the follow-up care protocol, patients want to perceive that staff are knowledgeable, empathetic, and skilled in handling their concerns, and these attributes are what keep health consumers and payers loyal to a brand.
All these elements related to staff training will give your medical tourism business a competitive edge to stay ahead in the ever-changing medical tourism market. The presence of a highly skilled medical staff with unique expertise that are delivered via culturally competent frameworks, with staff that are also highly skilled at communicating with patients elevates and distinguishes a medical tourism business.
These factors are essential to boosting patient trust and confidence and improve retention of clients.
Global Healthcare Accreditation
Global Healthcare Accreditation (GHA) provides an array of training frameworks to support healthcare and hospitality providers to better equip staff serving medical travel patients and guests. This includes the Certified Medical Travel Professional (CMTP), which equips professionals with the knowledge and tools to meet the medical traveler at every point of their needs.
GHA also offers accreditation for medical travel businesses, including hotels, as well as training and certifications for medical travel facilitators to raise the bar in medical travel, and ensure patient care and experience take center stage in medical travel. You can find more information about GHA here.