China Medical Tourism: How to attract patients looking for IVF and/or Surrogacy?

In the Chinese Healthcare market, IVF & Fertility is getting more and more highlights as the country’s birth rate keeps declining and has reached a critical level already. Both a declining interest in motherhood and overall fertility is to blame for the lack of babies and wealthy families/women are turning to IVF treatment in overseas clinics to increase their chances of procreating.

China Medical Tourism: Global Key data

  • 1000000 medical tourists abroad per year
  • 778000 Chinese millionaires consider medical treatment abroad every year
  • With average hospital costs paid by Chinese medical tourists ranging from USD1,500 for dental procedures, right up to USD146,000 for oncology treatment

Fertility Key Data: are Chinese are not fertile enough?

  • Infertility, the inability to achieve a pregnancy within 12 months of unprotected sexual intercourse, is estimated to affect 48.5 million couples globally.
  • In China, the infertility rate has been estimated to be as great as 15%-20% (40-50 million) in women and 10%-12% (45 million) of men within reproductive age (aged 15-45 years).
  • 15.5% of couples have fertility issues
  • China has a 30% to 40% conception rate
  • Men are less and less fertile with a declining quality in sperms

Like elsewhere in the world, delaying motherhood has become more common in China, with high costs of living, long working hours, unfriendly maternity policies, and high childcare costs. Some specialists also suggest that environmental factors such as pollution could also be a factor, particularly for male infertility.

The drop in fertility and delayed pregnancy in China has naturally led to an increase in the demand for IVF and Surrogacy. The industry is developing locally, but foreign clinics are still preferred.

When it comes to IVF Chinese Patients have favorite destinations

Russia is one of the top Medical destinations for IVF and Surrogacy as the quality of services is very high and the price is on average 2-2,5 times cheaper than in the US or European Union. Spain is also competitive with lower prices than Germany or France.

Why Chinese choose Medical Tourism?

China’s Healthcare system is plagued by scandals

Just like for many services related to health, Chinese wealthy consumers tend to have a bias against Medical made in China. Although the reputation of Chinese clinics is improving, many are still hesitant when it comes to getting treated there, preferring foreign facilities.

This Lack of confidence in the Chinese healthcare system is the result of a number of scandals that have occurred over the years in both public and private hospitals.  For instance, you can read about the Wei Zexi case (a student dead because of fake treatments and doctors).

The Majority of Chinese Hospitals are not up to date with IVF treatments

The second one, which encourages many Chinese people abroad to seek medical care, is the lack of modern procedures in many Chinese hospitals. As I mentioned quickly above, the practice is still developing and is somewhat taboo. In-country where the fertility rate has dropped long ago, IVF is a lot more mainstream, and research is more advanced.

Too many peoples, and not enough Hospitals.

The last factor contributing to the rise of Chinese medical tourism is the most obvious, overpopulation. In some regions, there are more than 200 patients for 1 doctor. You can see why IVF does not get as much attention as it does in other countries. When you have an overwhelming number of patients for all sorts of conditions of which many are life-threatening, IVF obviously does not come on top of the list of priorities to address.

Government regulation on IVF

Not everyone has access to IVF in China. Single women, homosexual couples, ovarian cancer women, etc can’t access this service pushing them further to seek solutions abroad.

Who are the Chinese seeking Medical Tourism?

There are several segments of people looking to travel for medical reasons, here is an illustration of the segmentation :

Quality at any price

This type of travel is usually less sensitive to price and ready to travel long distances to get the most advanced medical technology and the most famous doctors or surgeons. The reputation of doctors, service records, and specialization of the hospital are considered much higher than the cost for patients in this segment. Typically, these patients travel for basic inpatient treatment.

Value for money

Patients traveling in the “price segment” are looking for better quality treatment at more competitive prices than those available in mainland China. This may include those traveling on board to treat severe diseases such as screening, cancer treatment, or IVF & Surrogacy as well as more routine procedures such as plastic surgery.

General Checkups

The last type of medical tourism trip is those who travel abroad for a medical check-up or to get a second opinion on the initial diagnosis and prognosis of the disease in China. These trips are usually combined with vacation trips.

Typology of travelers

Well-being and preventive servicesBeauty GroupTreatment of diseases abroadMother Group
  • Preventive Treatments
  • Spa center
  • Anti-aging Treatment
  • Aesthetic treatments
  • Correctional treatments
  • Easy surgical procedures
  • Severe surgical procedures
  • Dental procedures
  • Gynecology
  • IVF
  • Radiation Therapy
  • Cancer Screening
  • Oncology
  • Birth of children
  • Surrogacy

How to attract Chinese patients to IVF Clinics abroad?

Foreign IVF clinic needs to have a quality Website in Chinese

A quality mandarin version of your website is necessary. Having a mandarin website allows you to optimize your SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) for search engines. For better SEO and faster loading, your website also needs to be hosted on a local server in China (.cn). The site also needs to be optimized for Mandarin character searches and should include QR links to your WeChat page.

All sites in China need to be optimized for mobile phones as the vast majority of online users browse on their smartphones. Mobile content can also be optimized for WeChat, China’s largest social network.

Make sure Chinese medical tourists find your IVF clinic with Baidu SEO

China’s largest search engine is Baidu. It is vital to increase the ranking of your brand on this platform. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a strategy that works to rank a corporation’s official website in the natural search results over time.

Organic traffic is the most qualitative traffic with visitors actively searching for your services and more likely to convert. You’ve got to note, that paid advertising is not allowed for medical services in China. To increase your clinic awareness you’ll have to rank on Baidu but also smartly invest in Q&A, Forums, PR, and Social media.

Build a strong e-reputation with medical tourists using Chinese social media

Coverage on China’s top social media platforms is vital for attracting Chinese. There are over 1 Billion users on Wechat and over 300 million on Weibo.

Chinese people are perhaps the most active social media users in the world with an average use of 50 minutes per day browsing. Chinese spend on average 4 hours a day on WeChat.

Go undercover on Chinese Forums and Q&A

Every Chinese patient seeking medical treatment abroad will spend hours online looking for the best option for him. The search process is the following:

  1. Open Baidu, and type the “IVF Clinic” related keyword. Finds a few Clinics’ names.
  2. Look up each of the clinics in detail. The first stop will be your website.
  3. Looks for thirds party experts and previous client reviews, on social media.
  4. Is convinced, look for your WeChat official account.

Baidu Tieba, Zhihu, Tianya, Sohu & Zhidao are some of the most popular forums and Q&A. Those platforms also tend to rank quite high on Baidu. The reason they rank high is that Chinese netizens rely on them quite a lot for their research. They are great tools to build a strong reputation via “testimonial” but also for ORM (Oline reputation management). The goals? control what appears on the 1st page of Baidu for your keyword. With Q&A, forums, PR, and your website, you can occupy the entire first page of results on your chosen keyword.

Paid are not allowed for medical services but PR is better anyway

PR (press release) is one of the best digital marketing tools out there. The more your industry is related to health or an industry that requires high expertise the more beneficial using PR will be.

Having trusted media and experts recommending your services is the best thing that can happen to your clinic. Consumers will always believe more in third-party information than their own promotion.

Examples of online Healthcare PR websites: are Sohu Health, Health 360, and News168.

Conclusion on attracting Chinese outbound medical tourists to your IVF clinic

All these steps are part of the Chinese patient Customer Journey and you need to be there in order to match their expectations and increase your visits onsite.

Read also: Marketing to Chinese tourists travelers

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Contact us and learn more about our experience with promoting foreign clinics to the Chinese public.

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