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Hospital ability to attract international patients: a conceptual framework

Mona Al‐Amin (Department of Health Services Research, Management and Policy, Health Science Center, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, USA)
Suzanne C. Makarem (School of Business, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia, USA)
Rohit Pradhan (Department of Health Services Administration, School of Health Professions, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama, USA)

International Journal of Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Marketing

ISSN: 1750-6123

Article publication date: 6 September 2011




The volume of international patients has been growing in the past 15 years, with developing countries gaining a larger market share. The international patients market is lucrative, given that hospitals may be able to attract an affluent clientele, and many patients from foreign countries who seek care require complicated procedures and treatments. The purpose of this paper is to build on previous work in the international business and health services fields, to develop a model that predicts a hospital's ability to attract international patients.


The paper is a synthesis of the literature on export ventures and patient choice to predict a hospital's “export” performance.


It is estimated that around 70,000 foreign patients travel each year to the USA to receive inpatient medical care. These patients not only benefit hospitals and medical professionals but also benefit the local community through money spent in hotels, restaurants, shopping, etc. Strategic management, international business, and health services research fields can help us understand how hospitals can be more competitive in attracting international patients. The authors propose that the following dimensions affect a hospital's export performance: hospital resources (hospital attributes, international competence, management commitment, and strategy); institutional environment; and domestic hospital industry factors.

Research limitations/implications

More empirical work is required to test the authors' model.


Most of the studies done on international patients were descriptive in nature. This is the first paper that builds a conceptual model to help us understand what determines a hospital's performance in the international patients market.



Al‐Amin, M., Makarem, S.C. and Pradhan, R. (2011), "Hospital ability to attract international patients: a conceptual framework", International Journal of Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Marketing, Vol. 5 No. 3, pp. 205-221.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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