The business in medical sector has experienced a radical shift in the interaction of the people with the advancement in technology and social media marketing. Moreover, with advent of personal computers, e-commerce as well as internet has affected the media technology while having an impact presently and in future. Social media marketing is one of the new concept introduced in medical tourism based on the fact that the customers in pursuit of treatments are travelling. However, social media marketing will provide customers a base on their curiosity, education and medical level education to the place where they can get best of facilities (Hall, 2013).
Research Aims and Motivation of the Project
The research aim of the study highlights the prospective of medical tourism in India with special reference to Chennai that has not only been seen as a hub for medical tourists but also incorporates social media marketing as one of the tool in gaining competitive advantage for India to build up trust and loyalty of international patients (Babu & Gade, 2014). Moreover, it is depicted that conventional tourism has become a by-product in the rise of medical tourism with emphasized privatisation of health care in accelerated globalization with the change in technology of using social media marketing as a way of promotion (Holden, 2016).
The research objectives that that helps inn analysing the entire study can be given as:
- To evaluate the role of medical tourism in India based on social media marketing with special reference to Chennai.
- To investigate the significance of effect of social media marketing on medical tourism in India especially in context to Chennai.
- To study and consider the ways in which social media marketing adds value to customers by providing destination for medical tourism
- To suggest the possible recommendations that can improve the methods of social media marketing in India’s medical tourism.
The questions that govern the research can be given as:
- What is the role of medical tourism in India based on social media marketing with special reference to Chennai?
- What is the significance of effect on social media marketing on medical tourism in India especially in context to Chennai?
- How social media marketing adds value to customers by providing destination for medical tourism?
- What are the possible suggestions to improve the methods of social media marketing in medical tourism of India?
Background of the Study
India has the blooming healthcare sector and is built on the strong foundation of robust growth through the rise in per capita income, awareness about risks, cost effectiveness and the adoption of social media marketing. Social media marketing is one of the strategy devised by India, which is used to disseminate information in providing effective response to address not only customer problems as well as grievances but also to engage with customers to influence customer’s decision patterns based on the initial awareness created (Devi, 2012). However while taking in consideration, the effects of social media marketing in India and especially in Chennai, it has been seen that Chennai has been one of the hub of medical tourism. Chennai has been called to be India’s health capital because the quality of hospitals as well as doctors. However, the state attracts 45% of the total foreign medical tourists coming from abroad for treatment such that with hospitals, the hotels, guest houses and resorts in collaboration with the hospitals (Kumar & Raj, 2015).
Medical tourism is a blooming sector in India. It was estimated to be a US$3 Billion medical sector in October 2015, with a growth projection of US$ 7-8 Billion by 2020. In comparison to developed countries, India provides world-class healthcare facilities at a much lower cost. India is the only country that provides state of the art healthcare services and highest quality of all medical tourism destinations at par with first world countries at one tenth cost of the services provided by its US counter part, as quoted by the Medical Tourism Report of 2015 (Sharma, Sharma & Padroo, 2016). After the US and the UK being the largest source countries for medical tourism in India, now the Bangladeshis and the Afghans accounted for 30 percent of foreign patients during October 2015.
A radical shift has been viewed in the last 40 years on how people conduct business operations after the introduction of computers, Internet, and e-commerce methods. Social media is widely popular among the youth of the country as well as the easy user interfaces have allowed people from the previous generations to also get used to this form of marketing (Van Dijck, 2013). People are social by nature and the information they gather from such mediums is important. Social media is here to say and there is no option to choose it anymore. One of the biggest changes India’s healthcare sectors is experiencing is the change in the customer’s outlook about healthcare services with the inception of modern day digital mediums (Dawn & Pal, 2011). Today with the technological sharpness of customers, they have all the necessary information at the palm of their hands with easy access to the views and opinions of other people for quick reviews and knowledge about diseases and illness. Social media is the opening for marketers to engage and digitally connect with customers (Gregson et al., 2015).
The city of Chennai is often called the ‘healthcare capital of India’. It is estimated that the Super and Multi-Specialty hospitals everyday bring in around 150 patients across the city. Chennai allures around 45 percent of foreign tourists arriving in the country with 200 foreign patients everyday looking for excellent health facilities at throwaway prices and accounts for 30 percent of domestic health tourists (Debata, 2013). The patients from other countries as well as from different states from India are estimated of 12,500 beds in the city as domestic population only subjugates half of them. The fabrication of paramedics as well as the maximum number of doctors and paramedics in the country is done by the state. The government has plans to initiate a ‘medicity’, which will have a public and private stake in its operations with a vision to expand the scope of medical tourism by 2020. Owing to the government support and sanctions of both hospitals and unconventional medical practices has made the state the most preferred destination for healthcare tourism (Chakravarthi, 2011).
In Chennai, the use of social media as a marketing tool and a platform for customers to gather information has transformed the health care industry of the state. It fits the patient’s lifestyle to incorporate effective strategies. For example: there are various applications for patients where he/she is diagnosed with a medical disorder/condition, and the patient themselves can research about the illness through online forums to be well informed about their own condition. Other users can help the online community by posting relevant content and thoughts by leading medical gurus and experts. Patients can also inquire about the relevant costs and weigh out other options, which can lead to affordable medical care and treatments through a survey online by themselves. It helps customers rely on peer-to-peer opinions and reviews to help make up their minds without even consulting the hospital concerned (Shore, 2012). As a result, hospitals take care in giving the best medical services to patients in order to keep a positive rating in the online world to attract more customers, this means the hospitals always need to up their game in order to not to lose customer base.
Clearly, for brands and marketers in the healthcare industry, the road ahead is smooth and loaded with opportunities and challenges. Adoption of social media channels by the healthcare industry in India is the first step to communicate with their customers in a more direct and cordial way in which the main motive is to strive for the best customer experience for both, the domestic population as well as our international guests (KM & D’Souza, 2012). The social media models help provide farsightedness to maximize effective customer engagement, enables analytics and insights to the newest technologies on comparative basis for the customer to focus completely upon the importance as per the requirement (Kumar & Raj, 2015).
The research gap in the study can be highlighted based on the published data, as research needs to be conducted on a large sample that not only covers current challenges that the medical tourism holds but also strategic areas for future research into medical tourism and its relationship with social media marketing in Chennai. Many issues have been raised into greater attention towards medically motivated travel of foreigners to India in search of gold healthcare. The research lacks the evidence that India being a developing country has been facing lot of challenges whether financial or organizational in the healthcare sector. On the contrary, while analysing the heterogeneity in the health tourism business the empirical evidence is important to evaluate the medically motivated travel in the provision of providing health services through social media marketing (Behrmann & Smith, 2010).
The research hypothesis that can add significance to the study can be given as:
H0 (Null Hypothesis) – Social media marketing has created no effect on medical tourism in Chennai, India.
H1 (Alternate Hypothesis) – Social media marketing has created significant yet positive effect on medical tourism in Chennai, India.
Research Design and Methodology
The research paradigm is used a tool to enable different tools and techniques to carry out the analysis. According to Kuhn, research culture not only adds nature and relevance to the research but also establishes the research practice significant in the study (Hansen & Machin, 2013). However, the research paradigm can be of two types, one is ontology that describes the nature of reality and the other is epistemology that are facts based on knowledge. However, ontology advocated interpretivism and epistemology advocates positivism through quantifiable results.
On the other hand, the research paradigm used in the research is epistemology with positivism as it is objective in nature and is efficient enough in analysing the physical environment relating to people’s knowledge of social media marketing on medical tourism in India.
The research approach is a form of decision taken by the researcher in studying the research aims and objectives. The two approaches that are used in the research are inductive and deductive in nature. The deductive theory is the process of analysis from the theory whereas, on the other hand, inductive theory creates a theory from research questions (Gray, 2013).
However, the research approach used in this case is deductive in nature as it is devised from research hypothesis that could be applied in the research. The study is objective as it is based on quantitative analysis (Bryman & Bell, 2015).
The research design formulated in the research gathers information regarding the procedure of the arrangement of the study. The study highlights that there are three kinds of design that are generally followed that are exploratory, casual and descriptive. The exploratory adds thoughtfulness to the existing situation through undertaking qualitative study using interviews and focus groups. The descriptive is guided by research problems and uses quantitative study for the research. Casual research is often performed in the lab or field experiments (Babbie, 2015).
Conversely, this research follows descriptive study as it will not only evaluate the given research but will also cite ways for marketing and promotion of social media from traditional to modern ways relative to research hypothesis and research questions of the study.
The investigation is made onto the research design and the effective tool that can be helpful in evaluating the data to carry out the data collection method. The research strategies that are used are survey, experiment, grounded theory, action research, focus groups as well as interviews (Collis & Hussey, 2013).
The research strategy used for the research will be survey as well as interviews because to analyse the effectiveness of social media marketing, it is important that the managers who promote it from medical tourism agencies needs to be interviewed. On the other hand, survey questionnaire will be generated on medical tourists who visit Chennai hospital in India for treatment.
The sample size taken for the proposal is 5 managers on which interviews will be scheduled. The managers will be of different tourist agencies who are also a medium for social media marketing to medical tourists. The Medical tourists that will be considered for the study are 10 who come to get their medical check-up done in Chennai.
Data Collection Method
The data collection method used in the sample is qualitative as well as quantitative both. The research had been followed to maintain the efficiency and effectiveness of the study. The sampling is done on random probability sampling to synthesize the method of gathering data (Davies & Hughes, 2014). However, the samples of medical tourists is based on convenience sampling so that a random feedback of the medical tourists can be recorded on medical tourism based on social media marketing.
Data Analysis Method
The plan advocated the use of different methods that can be incorporated with different strategies in conducting the strategies taken under quantitative as well as qualitative data collection method. The decision is undertaken based on the primary as well as secondary data. The primary data is undertaken using interviews and survey whereas the secondary data is taken from different articles to relate with the research work (Richey & Klein, 2014). The results gathered will be analysed using SPSS tool using histogram, frequency tables, correlations, bar charts, etc.
India has global opportunities from the medical tourism sector in Chennai because of the tourists that have to pay less for their treatment as well as with social media marketing it has become evident to medical tourists. The probable outcome for the research is positive, as the medical tourism sector will immensely benefit from promotion in social media. Tourism with one of the thriving sector will attract tourists because an advertising campaign launched worldwide in India through social media will provide a boost not only in medical tourism sector but also in tourism sector as a whole. Conversely, social media marketing will provide a base for medical tourism sector in India and especially in Chennai with new avenues that can be studied by medical tourism companies, medical tourists as well as advancing the probability to international health care destinations.
Contribution of the Research
The research has not only been beneficial in providing interest as well as perception of the medical tourist to the medical tourism agencies but in a way has been able to promote the social media marketing promotional activities through different methods like internet and other social median websites like Facebook and twitter. However, the study will help in providing expected yet stronger impact on medical tourism in Chennai through social media marketing (Behrmann & Smith, 2010).
To conclude, it can be said that the research has provided an overview of the medical tourism and it has helped in acting as a hub in Chennai, Indian through social media marketing activities. However, it has been seen that the results will not only give an important resolution to the face of social media marketing but will also attract many medical tourist from abroad to get themselves treated in India. However, the study done has inculcated both qualitative and quantitative methods using interview and survey method to yield maximum yet positive results.
Research Aim and Motivation
Background of the Study
Research Design and Methodology
Data Collection Method
Contribution to the Research
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