Denver, CO — (SBWIRE) — 01/15/2014 — Over the past years dental tourism has become a booming industry, where every dentist fights for his reputation and wants to be among the first options for patients. But how easy it is and what it takes to be a competitive player in such an unpredictable industry?
With increasing awareness of the potential of the dental tourism, more and more dental clinics are trying to get into the business of attracting “foreign patients”. But unfortunately all are relaying on the same message – we are thebest dentists, we provide the best dental services, in the most beautiful location, and offer dental services at 70% less compared to the US prices for the same services.
How can the patient choose among the sea of dentists? What are the criteria when it comes to finding the best dentist and how far will the patient be willing to travel for a dental crown or an implant?
PlacidWay, a leader in global medical travel and tourism, has turned its attention towards dental industry, engaging in studies and doing in-depth research regarding global dental tourism. Pramod Goel, CEO and founder of PlacidWay, has been carefully analyzing the results and found out what are the key factors when choosing a medical provider and what are the main trends of this industry.
Why would you choose to go to another country for dental care?
A 2012 report to Congress entitled Dental Crisis in America from Sen. Bernie Sanders, shows that nearly 130 million people in the US do not have dental insurance. In the UK, National Health Service (NHS) covers only part of the dental care costs, but finding a NHS dentist is only a matter of luck and people are not satisfied with how they are treated or the quality-price relationship
In Australia even for people with insurance, dental work can get quite expensive, especially when it comes to dental implants, crowns and cosmetic dentistry, which are generally not covered by insurance. Due to higher cost of private dentists, people are on the waiting list for the dental school or government clinic. In many European countries people do not use dental insurance, but pay full price for the dental procedures and prices can go really high.
The dental price factor
The dental tourism concept brings a perception to consumers seeking dental care of significant savings if they choose to go abroad for dental work. Based on claims made by various clinics these could range from 50-70% savings. For example, a dental implant in the US costs around $4,000 and $3,500 in the UK. Prices can go as low as $1,500 in Thailand, $1,000 in Turkey, $850 in Mexico, Costa Rica and Colombia, $750 in India and Argentina.
Prices for dental veneers can reach $1,800 in the US and $870 in the UK, but drop as low as $300 in Turkey, $250 in Thailand, Colombia and India, $220 in Serbia, $200 in Philippines and only $150 in Malaysia. Teeth whitening in the US costs $2,300, but only $450 in Turkey, $350 in Mexico, $300 in Thailand, $250 in Costa Rica and $100 in India.
Patients will pay $2,000 for a dental crown in the US and $1,000 in the UK, but only $400 in Mexico, $350 in Venezuela and Thailand, $300 in Turkey and India and $100 in Philippines.
The conclusion here is that many people do not have dental insurance and prices of dental services in developed countries can be excruciating. People can now avail same skills (e.g., ADA certified doctors), same equipment, and same product from same manufacturer (e.g., implants) at a much lower cost abroad. This is due to the fact that the product pricing varies by country, malpractice insurance and related infrastructure costs are lower in these emerging dental tourism markets.
Price being the main driving force towards the expansion of the industry, countries such as India, Thailand, Mexico, Costa Rica, Colombia, Turkey and countries in eastern Europe have a big advantage due to lower cost of dental services. They can compete on price!
Dental tourism has become an extremely crowded marketplace. The city of Los Algodones in Mexico alone has more than 300 dentists, all offering affordable dental care and Bangkok, Thailand, has an extensive network of clinics with attractive costs. There are many locations where people can get a discounted dental care compared with prices in their home countries plus an opportunity to holiday in a foreign country. The dentists continue to join the foray of dental tourism with slight twists and turns in their products and procedures with same underling offering, hence making the landscape quite competitive. This is also a driving force in how far a dental patient is ready to travel for dental treatment.
Dental Tourism Trends for 2014
It is predicted that in 2014 and beyond, the dental tourism demand will continue to expand as well as the number of dentists offering the services. The main trends PlacidWay sees include:
– Regional Solutions: Dental tourism will continue to be a regional solution where distance traveled will be a major factor as it equates tocosts of travel. The industry will continue to evolve and people will travel to places where they are familiar with the environment as well as where they wish to vacation. For example, people from North America will travel to Latin America, people from Europe will travel to Eastern Europe, Asians will travel within Asia, Australia will travel to South East Asia. Usually, people choosing to do extensive dental work, such as having dental implants, dental crowns, root canals or dentures, may require several visits to the dentist for the perfect results and preferably bi-annual check-ups.
– Costs/Price War: People will look for deals – they will look for total return on investment which will include treatment cost, travel cost, lodging as well as incidental expenses. To optimize this they will look for all-inclusive deals to understand the total cost of going abroad for dental and reduce their potential financial risks. People will also travel when savings are significant i.e., people will not travel for just one dental implant unless they are already planning to visit that city/country.
– Huge Competition: Dentists in emerging markets are looking to expand their revenues and see a big potential with dental travel. Whether it is a one dentist clinic with limited infrastructure, or a center with large offering including all required infrastructure for dental treatment, both are trying to compete under similar pretense and trying to attract the same patients. This is creating chaos, confusion, and blurring of lines between good, bad, and ugly. This is propelling a price war!
– Transparency: This is a growing concern in the dental tourism marketplace. There are instances when what is being marketed versus what is being delivered varied significantly. For example, dentists will advertise that they use top American brand dental implants, but while performing the procedure, they will put lower quality knock-off implants with no reliability. They will charge the patient for a higher grade implant. The lack of price and procedure transparency continues to grow and hence the consumer must do proper research before engaging in a treatment.
The dental tourism market is definitely moving towards a commodity-type market, where there are many suppliers and the demand for those services is becoming a common place. The type of procedures, skills and techniques to perform those dental services are becoming the same thing. The main differentiating factors among providers, such as costs and quality, are blurred among so many dental service providers.
In order to gain a competitive advantage, the dental clinics need to re-think more strategically and systematically to differentiate their specific offerings beyond costs, quality, and services. Therefore, to stay a competitive player in the market, dental providers have to think more strategically and differentiate through innovation, efficiency, talent and the services offered.