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Venturing Healthcare Business Abroad

: 04-Dec-2019     : Raj Sehgal,Vice President International Sales at Dr Lal PathLabs     Source : Microbioz Health

Many entrepreneurs & healthcare businesses have the ambition to ramp up services across borders.Choice of the country is the initial & most important step as a foundation to this dream & quite vital for the business & its management team.Scanning from Nigeria to Nepal, each country has its own distinct makeup of social, demographic, economic, financial, regulatory & political environment, has its variant culture, resources and global outlook.

A due diligence should consist evaluation on size of the market, opportunity available, supply chain existence, technology scanning, growth rate, competitive environment, local infrastructure & relevant human resources available.

Setting up of the business also requires understanding of commonly used business entities available locally, dollar availability & currency valuation, repatriation of profits mechanism, finance & audit requirements, taxation, bilateral trade agreements and healthcare compliances.

Anyone stepping into a foreign business environment must take care of the laws, rules and healthcare regulations of the host country & all must adhere to all compliances for making hassle-free & impactful entry.

The various entry strategy routes available can be M & A fuelled expansion, export of services, licencing your brand, managing a department of a local hospital, franchising, joint venture with local entities, 100% ownership projects etc.

The Marketing Environment

Healthcare companies essentially need to keep the patient at the centre & enfold all services around their needs. This might require new modelling of marketing mix and technology to develop the service offering of the company.The external marketing environment components like social, demographic, political, legal etc, needs considered carefully by the new entrant.

With respect to healthcare, another important variable is the payer system (insurers) analysis as this has profound impact of the way the business operates in the country

In a foreign land, the healthcare marketing manager can better attempt to create effective marketing mix rather than influencing environmental variables.

It might be easier to manage usual marketing mix of 4Ps (Product, Place, Price, Promotion) or 7 Ps (as in services marketing) rather than persuading with the uncontrollable variables or the external environment

Some of the external marketing environment factors that need attention include:

  • Social factors which include but not limited to, the cultural values & lifestyle;
  • Demographic factors, important as this is study of people’s statistics,
  • Economic factors include study of disposable income, purchasing power etc
  • Political & legal factors
  • Competitive environment

Following few pointers maybe considered while drafting the new country marketing mix, keeping above factors in mind:

  • Offering good systems around patient care & clinical outcomes.

Concept of prevention & wellness are general enablers for any healthcare receptive market.

  • Community interactions through OPD camps can be collaborative to society This must include means for information sharing & educating public
  • Demographical studies can help to offer better solutions, knowing that a geriatric population exits, may help you to innovate packages around it.
  • Understanding the purchasing power & inflation trends of the country, may help the company to device pricing strategy for the country
  • Innovations must be key component of the strategy ,the company might have to look healthcare delivery beyond healthcare institutions
  • Capacity development through training local talent is important in multiple aspects
  • Adoption of new age medical technologies helps in establishing presence & beat competition eventually gaining market share.

In general, the global marketers should avoid indiscriminate standardisation of offerings, services; pricing & same communication taken from headquarter country.

It should have flexibility to adopt & execute geographic specific marketing actions.

The company should encourage local managers to develop ideas for regional use with guidance from corporate headquarter, implementing “think globally, act locally” concept.

Successful venture in overseas healthcare happens when the business is patient centric, quality of care exists, local capacity development is taken care, and marketing variables taken care of & the company adopts balance between local entity & parent company while running the business.

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