Implementation of a Hospitality-Oriented Patient Experience (HOPE) Concept to Service Standards of Muslim-friendly Medical Tourism
Keywords:Medical Tourism, Hospitality-Oriented Patient Experience, Muslim-friendly Patient Service, Muslim Tourism, Southern Thailand
While ample research on Muslim-friendly medical services provides insights for public understanding, research on Muslim medical tourists in Thailand is rather limited. This research sheds light on a hospitality-oriented patient experience (HOPE) lens to Islamic-based medical tourism by extending Hunter-Jones et al. (2020) for examining Islamic needs in the health travel industry, and to analyse the services that comply with halal-oriented practices in the healthcare context. A mixed-method approach was used and being incorporated into researcher-administered interviews with Muslim medical tourists. Face-to-face interviews with 31 domestic participants, and 31 overseas respondents from the Muslim patients were conducted. All of these 62 interviews were carried out in three of the largest hospitals in Southern Thailand (Songkhla, Krabi and Phuket). Although the sociocultural phenomenon is not a new power which creates complexity in the current medical hospitality conditions in Thailand, the growing number of Muslims in the healthcare market in demanding amenities which abide by Shari’a rules and a great lack of understanding of Islam can lead to cultural tensions. As such, the research findings inform recommendations for scholars and the MICE industry about how to respond to the requirements of Muslim medical tourists. This knowledge and understanding is essential for an increasingly multicultural society like Thailand, for the tourism industry in recognising how this group of customers maintain their religious identity and observe Islamic practices. The research may also provide guidance for the adaptation of these practices into the medical industry context.