In the past, most patients received care in the country of their residence, but more recently, medical related travel to other countries has grown from a cottage industry into a worldwide scheme. Travel for medical care today has many forms and is largely driven by cost, lack of access to emerging procedures and wait times. While cosmetic procedures are still popular, today's medical travelers may also journey across the world for cardiac and orthopedic procedures.
The industry has labeled this phenomenon Medical Tourism and many countries across the globe are positioning themselves to attract international patients. Turkey has positioned itself as a convenient, high-quality and low cost provider of care to health travelers, with a goal to become an international health travel hub. The Internet is a major driver of information on health travel and is also a vehicle for patients to share their experiences. There are few studies that evaluated the experiences of health travelers.
To date there are few studies in the medical tourism literature that evaluate health travelers' experiences with care in another country. This qualitative research, an analysis of online narratives, identified themes of health travelers' experiences to Turkey. The intent was to describe the experiences written online by health travelers to Turkey. It is expected that this research will assist in decision-making for patients considering health travel in the future.
The research may strengthen health administration education by providing insights in to the phenomena of health travel. In addition, this study may assist Turkey and other countries with their marketing and positioning to health travelers and serve as a resource for hospitals wanting to recruit and retain staff to serve a global patient base. Finally this study may provide a springboard for further research on health travelers' experiences. The overarching question to be answered with this research is: What can we learn about health travelers to Turkey through analysis of their online narratives? In addition, the goal was to identify the important individual characteristics, outline the push and pull factors to seek healthcare in another country, identify satisfaction with the outcomes and the results of these individuals' treatments, and note some positive and negative factors influencing health travelers' perceptions and overall experiences about their health travel to Turkey.
Narratives for analysis were obtained by using the Google search engine and using multiple search terms to obtain as many publicly posted English narratives of health travelers to Turkey via purposeful sampling. The narrative posts of 36 individuals who traveled to Turkey from at least 13 countries for medical care were obtained. Posters' written words were analyzed in an iterative analytic process using narrative analysis theory principles. Three stages of coding were conducted to identify characteristics and themes using NVivo version 10.
Results indicated that driven by lower costs, physician's expertise and the desire for care unavailable in their home country, health travelers to Turkey are generally satisfied with the outcomes of their procedures and care provided by their physicians. Communication challenges, food, transportation and gaps in customer service are key areas of opportunity for improvement.
This analysis provides an understanding of the insights of health travelers though the words of actual health travelers. This methodology may be applied to study other patient experiences. The findings of this research expands the body of knowledge in medical tourism as well as serve as a platform for further qualitative and quantitative research on health travelers' experiences.
|Advisor:||Johnson, James A.|
|Commitee:||Kursun, Attila, Shah, Gulzar|
|School:||Central Michigan University|
|Department:||DHA - Health Administration/School of Health Sciences|
|School Location:||United States -- Michigan|
|Source:||DAI-B 74/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Health care management|
|Keywords:||Blog, Health travel, International healthcare, Medical tourism, Qualitative analysis, Turkey|
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