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Medical Tourism Marketing in Russia: How to Attract Patients from the Russian Federation?



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Medical tourism is quite popular in Russia. Annually 40-50 thousand people travel abroad from Russia for medical treatment. The most popular destinations are Israel, Europe (Germany, Switzerland), inhabitants of the Far East prefer China, Korea, Thailand etc. Read the RMAA Group article to learn which tools should be used to attract patients from Russia to your clinic



Ever since the time when borders became open in Russia after the collapse of the USSR, medical tourism is popular among the people who can afford it. Moreover, the level of medical service in Russia is traditionally perceived by Russians as low, therefore people gladly go abroad for medical treatment, again, if they can afford it.

The impossibility to get necessary medical care in the home country is another motivation to seek medical treatment abroad. This can happen both with wealthy people and the people with average and low income. In the latter case, medical fundraising is arranged as a rule.

The entire audience, which may be interested in medical tourism can be divided into two categories: wealthy people which commonly receive medical treatment only abroad and people which are less well-off and go abroad for medical treatment only in case if they cannot get necessary medical care in Russia.

In addition “medical tourism” can be defined rather heterogeneously or differently. On the one hand, it includes cosmetology and plastic surgery; on the other hand it means just health-improving procedures which a tourist can advantageously combine with his or her leisure, on the third hand it can be construed as a serious medical treatment when it comes to life or death.

Dealing with different demand levels

When promoting medical tourism one has to deal with different demand levels. In our case by demand level is meant what we have to “sell” to our customer: a particular clinic, a country for medical treatment or a medical tourism idea itself.

The “hottest” part of audience is the people which have already decided to receive medical treatment in a particular country, for example in Israel. The priority task is to ensure that people choose our clinic rather than any other Israel clinic. At this demand level the audience is making a choice between clinics, and this audience is interesting to us, so all marketing efforts should be directed to the audience to opt for our clinic.

The second demand level is the audience which is ready to go abroad for medical treatment but hasn’t decided on a particular country yet. Let’s suppose that we are promoting an Israel clinic. When dealing with this audience, we must first explain why Israel is worth to choose for medical treatment rather than Switzerland or South Korea, and only after that suggest our clinic. This audience is making a choice between countries, and your arguments for your clinic only are not sufficient for it, you have to explain the advantages of treating in one country over treating in another country. This level requires more sophisticated marketing, and dealing with this audience will take more time.

At last, the third level of audience demand is the audience which hasn’t realized that it needs medical treatment abroad. People can just seek a solution to some of their health problems or ways to improve their state of health, however not considering an alternative of treatment abroad. For this audience you first have to “sell” an idea of medical treatment abroad: why it is better to receive medical treatment there rather than in Russia, why it is worth going for medical treatment abroad. And only after that you can suggest a particular country or a particular clinic.

So, there is the audience which is ready for medical treatment abroad, there is the audience which is ready for medical treatment in a particular country (for example, in South Korea if it comes to the Far East), and there is the audience which hasn’t considered the alternative of medical treatment abroad yet. In each of these cases it will be a peculiar call for action, and you should be clearly aware of the audience to which you are appealing in each particular case.

Internet promotion

Internet promotion is the basis for marketing of medical treatment abroad. Usually a person who needs medical care will primarily seek the information about medical treatment through the Internet; therefore considerable importance should be given to SEO and SEA.

Only dealing with search engines allows reaching the target audience. All other ways are merely auxiliary. Both SEO and SEA will allow for your offer to appear on the first search results page thereby considerably raise the prospects of the potential patient interest.

Also, attention should be paid to the contextual and targeted banner advertising. If a person started to search information about medical treatment abroad, it is likely he or she will select a treatment option for himself / herself for some time and continue search, that’s why contextual advertising is exactly what helps to attract medical tourists.

Content-marketing is also rather important in promotion of medical services. It’s valuable in terms of building trust relations with your audience. For example, doctors of your clinic can keep a blog about diseases, methods of treatment, prevention etc. Thus, your potential client will immediately see the professionalism of your doctors.

Mass media advertising

At first glance, mass media advertising has little relevancy for medical tourism. Indeed, it would be strange to advertise medical treatment in Israel or Switzerland on Russian TV aimed at all levels of the population. The same is true for the radio however the advertising of health tours would be appropriate on the radio.

Mass media advertising of medical tourism is mainly advertising in print media with the help of which you can get your offers across the prosperous audience treating basically abroad. Another good option for placement is magazines which are distributed in airplanes and airports. There is a good chance to find your client there as solvent audience is flying on airplanes. 

Direct marketing

Another common form of promotion of medical services abroad is direct appointments of a doctor with patients. For example, it can be arranged like this: a doctor from another country comes to Russia and arranges free appointment. But during the appointment he offers to his patients medical treatment in his clinic abroad.

This method can be extremely efficient if you make a good ad of the doctor’s appointment. Mass media advertising, distribution of informational leaflets, posting, advertising in specialized groups in social media and on forums will be suitable for this purpose. The doctor will most probably manage to spark the interest of patients if people visiting him could really do with medical treatment abroad.

Building trust: native advertising and dealing with reviews

Particular consideration should be given to native advertising. Medical service differs from other services in the fact that it is necessary to build trust relationships with a client. That’s why a concern should be given to the posting in mass media of several partner materials which tell about accommodation and treatment conditions, staff qualification and performance statistics.

It is desirable that these partner materials were the first what the client see in the search results when he or she would like to learn more about your clinic. Of course, all this information can be found on the official site of the company, however in terms of the building trust relationships it will be better if the client learn everything from native advertising.

Another important aspect in building trust relations is dealing with reviews on the internet. This is human psychology: to believe reviews of others rather than the first-hand information. That’s why you should work closely with negative reviews if any and ensure that it will be more positive reviews than negative ones.

When promoting medical tourism the most important thing is to build trust relationships with the client and be ready for a contact and answer any questions. RMAA Group specialists will work out a strategy of promotion at the Russian market for you and select the most relevant tools for performance of your tasks.


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About the Author

Digital Strategist. Head of one of the project groups at RMAA. Maria started her journey in digital marketing in 2009. 

Author Maria Romanenko

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