Last year I published a short article on "Destination Development in Medical Tourism". An essential part of developing a medical tourism destination is to bring all stakeholders together. Please note the following graphic that includes the major medical tourism stakeholders.
Without actively managing these stakeholders a destination cannot be developed. You need their services, effort and commitment (financial as well as non-financial) in order to create or sharpen your Unique Service Propositions (USPs).
The first step is to bring all these stakeholders together. You do not necessarily need a dedicated legal entity (Association, PLC or other) in order to bring everyone together, however at later stages it is advisable, especially when you need to structure finances and ensure obligations are met. In most cases, depending on the jurisdiction, an association is best suited to do so.
Regularly the process is started by a handful of stakeholders that have worked together well in the past and found the need to put more emphasis behind their cooperation.
In order to widen the network other stakeholders have to be approached. I strongly advise that after initial talks a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) is signed. While not legally binding in most cases it will ensure commitment towards the process so that the goal can be met through mutual efforts. Certain elements have to be included, such as the willingness to contribute in future, mutual actions in form of financing, material and personnel. I have accompanied many of these processes in the past and my experience has shown that without a Memorandum of Understanding meetings slowly stop and after a couple of month nobody remembers what has been talked about.
In the beginning stages monthly meetings are advisable, although bi-monthly exchanges usually yield a better outcome and keep the conversation flowing. Have a member of your respective team protocol the meetings and send these protocols our to all participants for confirmation. This way you can ensure everybody is on the same page. I am deliberately elaborating on the micromanagement, since it substitutes the base. Great ideas and ambition have often come to an end, due to lack of organisation and the medical tourism industry is no exception to that.
Once the participants have signed the MoU you should form the legal entity. The pillars of your medical tourism operation are the different stakeholders. However you have to make sure they operate on the same level, within the same framework and through central direction. To achieve this we need a common foundation as well as an aligning body.
As to the how of introducing the foundation and the aligning body we will find out in part 2 of this series. For now let me leave you with a short summary of the key elements:
Sign a Memorandum of Understanding (if you need help formulating one, we will gladly assist you).
Include the future financial aspects within this agreement.
Have regular meetings, at least once a month.
Make sure that all meetings are being protocolled and sent to the participants for confirmation.
I hope you enjoyed the start of the series.
Christian Fadi El-Khouri