What Is Dental Tourism? How Will It Affect You?
Dental Tourism: Patients Seeking Dental Treatments Far From Home
A whole new marketing strategy is dedicated to medical and dental tourism. Websites, such as Patients Beyond Borders and Dental Departures, are targeting consumers who are looking for more affordable options to receive medical and dental treatments outside their local healthcare system.
Why are patients traveling great distance for dental care at clinics and practices that are not located in the United States? We are seeing a high increase in Americans crossing the borders or traveling overseas to seek dental treatments. Dental vacations (tourism) account for nearly half of all medical travel. In 2016, about 800,000 Americans traveled to places like Mexico and Costa Rica for their dental procedures.
Dental internet marketing for these clinics and practices in other countries is also carefully crafted to engage patients in delivering “all-inclusive” dental vacations. In a recent article, a retired lawyer from Texas decided to travel to Costa Rica for dental implants after receiving a quote from a local dentist. He was able to save one-fourth of the cost of what he would had to pay if the dental implants were done by his local dentist. The additional benefits for this patient were:
- Shorter turn around time
- Great customer service
- No charges for pickup to and from the airport
- Hotel accommodation connected to the clinic
- Free unlimited phone calls to the U.S. and Canada
- Free breakfast
- A vacation
- No additional fee for replacements or adjustments
- Same quality in materials and equipment as in the U.S.
Top Dental Vacation Destinations for Americans
There has been a sufficient growth in Americans seeking medical and dental care internationally because of the high reduction in cost and not having to give up on quality care. Are you doing any marketing or educational materials to patients who are seeing you for a dental treatment plan or consultation but taking their business to another dentist in another country?
Popular dental vacation destinations in Mexico are Cabo San Lucas, Cancun and Puerto Vallarta. Below is an example of a dental practice that markets to U.S. and Canadian consumers by highlighting the following details on the first page of their website:
- Dental vacation in Mexico saves you up to 70%
- USA licensed and trained dentist in Cancun
- USA quality dentistry at Mexico’s prices
Patients will travel to Bangkok and Phuket, Thailand for top notch dental clinics. In this example, a dental clinic in Phuket displays the following statement, “We have a dedicated team of experienced and highly qualified dentists who have graduated and/or trained in other countries like USA, UK, Europe, Japan and Australia.” Prices on dental procedures, such as dental veneers and implants, are listed for patients to compare. The cost of a porcelain dental veneer in the USA is between $925 – $2500 per tooth. At this clinic, patient would pay between $333 – $545 per tooth.
The Philippines are made of beautiful, tropical islands in Southeast Asia. A quick search using the key words “Philippines dental care” provided me with the first result of a dental practice on Google who featured the following, ” Manila Dental Tourism” and “We can tailor your dental tourism treatment package to your budget, offer vacation guides, and arrange travel and accomodation.”
Costa Rica is one of the top choices for Americans to travel for dental work because of high quality and lower cost, such as getting dental veneers in Costa Rica can save a patient about 75% less from the cost in the United States. Marketed as an advanced dental center, this clinic’s website dedicates an entire page on medical tourism in Costa Rica.
Beat Your Competitors While Increasing Patient Engagement
It is true that many dental practices are using digital technology to engage patients online. Practices are using SEO (search engine optimization) and local search ranking to help capture leads online. Based on a local search of dental practices in the area, I have yet to come across a dental website that provides marketing or education information on why dental tourism may not be the right choice for their patients. Evaluate your online presence, such as your website, blog, social media, etc. to see if you are providing your patients with information on this topic. Here are some key factors to consider when getting dental treatments from other countries:
- Rules and regulations of that country when handling patient health information
- Security measures when communicating and transmitting patient health information
- Travel requirements when entering and leaving that country
- What is the total out of pocket cost to receive a dental treatment – such as dental treatment cost, hotel accommodations, airfares, food, transportation, etc.
- Legal recourse should something go wrong
- Number of visits required to complete a dental treatment plan – i.e. dental implants, crowns, veneers
- Type of payments accepted
- Currency conversion costs – fees associated with making a foreign purchase
Read our previous blog post on 5 Myths About Online Patient Forms.
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