In the last piece of this series (Part 1) we talked about the different stakeholders in medical tourism, especially those that can be actively managed. Further, we looked at important operational steps in bringing these stakeholders together and ensuring they are willing to work with each other. Thus we have touched on the importance of MOUs, protocolling and effective communication.
This part will focus on the foundation of your destination marketing efforts. Let's be clear, whatever we would like to call it, we are speaking about a cluster. And without a solid foundation and aligning body, your ambitions are doomed to fail. It is the function of the foundation to ensure that all participants are, where the cluster is concerned, dependant on each other. The aligning body gives the cluster its operating voice, the ability to have your interest communicated jointly and coherently.
Let us take a closer look at the foundation. It consists of three main parts. Mutual finances, a set of predetermined processes and, maybe most importantly, commonly drafted and agreed upon bylaws. The bylaws are the key element to the foundation since whatever they contain will directly inform the system of mutual finances and the procedural workings of the cluster. Let's take a closer look at what this all comes out to be.
Mutual finances mean, that every member of the cluster contributes to the organisation financially in a way that allows the cluster to jointly decide on the use of the funds. This does not have to be a huge financial contribution that rivals your internal spending on marketing, but rather a part of the funds you dedicated to your international efforts. If each member of the cluster pitches in, you will find yourself with a substantial amount of funds that can be actively used in marketing the cluster as a whole. These efforts will most likely yield far higher outcomes since you are not just marketing a single provider but a destination, a network of care and expertise that supports medical tourists comprehensively. International Patients have a higher demand for comforting measures, that help them bridge the gaps, culturally and environmentally. Since I have written on the advantages of a cluster in other places I will now go back to write on the design and structure. The bylaws also provide processes and guidelines for dispute resolution, penalties, and organisational functions, such as votes and shares. Through these, the members of the cluster make the cluster operational. Thus, it is the legal framework that also manifests how the aligning body works.
As mentioned above, the aligning body is basically a committee. Members of the cluster all have a seat in the committee in which their delegate uses to influence how the cluster operates, what and how it is done. The integral part of the aligning body is again protocolling.
Keeping a constant record of what is discussed and what argument or objection might have been made. It keeps the delegates on the same page, but also allows them to report back to their respective organisations and provide a full picture. The aligning body should, as in the planning stages, meet regularly with a set agenda (that might of course be added to freely). All points on the agenda should be discussed in the committee, transparently and in an open room design. Everyone should be able to voice their opinion. How objections are raised, decisions made and documented will also be included in the bylaws. Finally, the aligning body needs representatives, comparable to a chairperson. Whether you choose one or two is up to you, but I would not recommend having more. Our experience has shown that any more than a dually chaired committee confuses internally and externally as to who is responsible for what. The role of the chairperson(s) is to represent the cluster, be its face and communicate the commonly agreed upon interests to the outside world. The bylaws again provide the system on how to vote for the chairperson, the term of the position and rights as well as obligations.
This concludes today's piece. Next time we will do a brief case study on one objection that is often raised when it comes to building a cluster and how to solve that issue.
I hope you enjoyed the read, if you have any questions or need help in any matter related to medical tourism, feel free to reach out.
Christian Fadi El-Khouri