In this article, we would brief about Chinese outbound medical tourism market as well as discuss the marketing strategies for an international medical tourism agency to better target Chinese patients.
Chinese wealthy, especially in recent years, are leaving their homes looking for better medical treatment abroad. There has been a growing demand for ‘agents’ acting as middlemen who help connect these people to the right doctors/services/hospitals in foreign lands and manage the whole process from beginning to completion.
CHINA’S ILL AND WEALTHY LOOK ABROAD FOR MEDICAL TREATMENT
According to a Daxue Consulting study, at the end of 2016, around half a million Chinese citizens have left their country to seek a better medical experience overseas. This trend is set to continue with the projected figure to surpass 800,000 in 2020, growing at 31% annually since 2012.
The rapid rise is driven by medical and lifestyle problems associated with an ageing population, as well as a rising number of affluent Chinese who are willing to invest in the best medical services overseas. Meanwhile, the healthcare system in China is already being overburdened, certain medical services may not be available at all or a particular treatment is offered in limited hospitals found in highly developed countries only.
The size of this market is also worth mentioning. It comprises the treatments expenditures, around $6.3 billion, and travel plus accommodation expenditures, around $3.4 billion. Therefore, in 2015, the outbound Chinese medical tourism worth a $9.7 billion business, with an average expenditure per capita of 50,000 RMB ($7,200).
South China Morning Post listed the US and Europe as top countries favoured by the super-wealthy, while Singapore, Thailand and South Korea are preferred by middle-class Chinese.
Guo Shushi, a Chinese citizen who sought medical treatment in the United States for cancer, at an apartment in Boston, where he has been staying during his treatment.
THE MARKET STILL HAS HUGE GROWTH POTENTIALS
China is the second largest economy in the world, and it has experienced in the last 30 years an unprecedented fast economic growth. All the basic needs have been satisfied, such as owning a house and a car, having enough food every day, etc., and now they are shifting their interests to more advanced needs including healthcare and well-being improvement.
The Chinese medical tourism is already a big market, and it is growing fast but it has just represented less than the 1.8 percent of the total $551 billion spent globally on medical tourism in 2015.
There are three fundamental ongoing trends that will drive Chinese medical tourism in the coming years:
- the increase of high-net-worth individuals
- the ageing of the Chinese population
- the continuous increase in health and fitness awareness.
In 2015, 30,500 Chinese were classified as millionaires (worth 10 million RMB and more), that is a fourfold increase from 7,090 in 2005, and they are expected to grow to 53,380 by 2025.
Meanwhile, by 2020, China’s rapidly ageing population is projected to reach 240 million people.
People queue up at a public hospital in China
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