Experienced and potential medical tourists' service quality expectations.Int J Health Care Qual Assur. 2013; 26(5):433-46.IJ
The paper's aim is to compare experienced and potential US medical tourists' foreign health service-quality expectations.
Data were collected via an online survey involving 1,588 US consumers engaging or expressing an interest in medical tourism. The sample included 219 experienced and 1,369 potential medical tourists. Respondents completed a SERVQUAL questionnaire. Mann-Whitney U-tests were used to determine significant differences between experienced and potential US medical tourists' service-quality expectations.
For all five service-quality dimensions (tangibles, reliability, responsiveness, assurance and empathy) experienced medical tourists had significantly lower expectations than potential medical tourists. Experienced medical tourists also had significantly lower service-quality expectations than potential medical tourists for 11 individual SERVQUAL items.
Results suggest using experience level to segment medical tourists. The study also has implications for managing medical tourist service-quality expectations at service delivery point and via external marketing communications.
Managing medical tourists' service quality expectations is important since expectations can significantly influence choice processes, their experience and post-consumption behavior. This study is the first to compare experienced and potential US medical tourist service-quality expectations. The study establishes a foundation for future service-quality expectations research in the rapidly growing medical tourism industry.