This Week in Medical Travel Today….

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Greetings, Recently I’ve been making the rounds of college campuses with my soon-to-be high school senior daughter. As anyone who has done this before knows, after you’ve sat through five or so information sessions and taken the hour-long tours, it all starts to get a little fuzzy. The claims of academic rigor begin to blend, the professorial pedigrees are indistinguishable, and the “unique” curriculum approaches sound remarkably un-unique. Ultimately, it just gets harder and harder to decipher the cost-value proposition of the potential experience. Sound familiar? While there are a million ways in which the delivery of healthcare and higher education differ, there are an amazing number of similarities in the selection process. For example, the institution has to provide the desired services with some established standards of quality; the student/patient must prove to be a qualified candidate; the offering has to be affordable; and the experience/service has to deliver the desired outcome. And on top of that, there’s the intangible — the one aspect of every school that my daughter can recall even months after a visit: the “fit.” For my daughter the fit is determined by how well the institution meets or exceeds her expectations — often in some surprising areas (i.e. the weirder the intramural offerings the better). It’s further influenced by how well she connects with a school’s ambassadors. Are they talking her language or are they addressing her parent? (Big turn-off.) Or even worse, are they just trying too hard? And much to my relief, she’s actually paying attention to how many students start and finish their education at the institution, which I consider to be as accurate an indicator of overall satisfaction and affordability as you’re going to get. While she’s far from making a final selection she is closer to discovering what truly matters to her. Ultimately, what makes a school the right fit for her is in all likelihood completely different from what will make it the right fit for many of her future classmates. In other words, marketing an institution isn’t just about saying the right thing to the right audience. It’s about being the right place for the right individual. By authentically representing what you are as well as what you are not will do more to attract the right type of patient than any fancy brochure ever could. And trust me, I’ve got a stack of fancy brochures that in no way fit the bill. As always, we welcome your comments, story ideas, and press releases. Cheers, Amanda Haar, Editor

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