Fostering Global Wellness: Harnessing Social Media to Enhance Cross-Cultural Trust to propel Medical Tourism Ensuring Economic Growth


  • A S Poornima Sri Ramachandra Faculty of Management Sciences, SRIHER, Chennai, India
  • Srikant Subramanian Blue Star Limited



Heal in India, Medical tourism, Economic growth, Healthcare marketing, Social media, Trust-building, Cultural dimensions, Cross-cultural communication, Healthcare destinations


The "Heal in India" initiative, initiated by the Government of India and fortified by a dedicated web portal, is the fulcrum of India's strategy to boost medical tourism. Apart from its impact on healthcare, this initiative is a compelling economic growth catalyst. By positioning India as a preferred destination for international healthcare seekers, the initiative stimulates foreign exchange inflows, creates employment opportunities, and contributes to the growth of ancillary sectors such as hospitality and tourism. Medical travel, a burgeoning universal trend, involves people seeking healthcare services across transnational borders. India ranked 10th on the Medical Tourism Index 2020-21, securing twelfth position globally and fifth in Asia-Pacific for wellness tourism. Accredited healthcare facilities contribute to this accolade, including 1400 National Accreditation Board for Hospitals & Healthcare Providers (NABH) accredited hospitals and 40 Joint Commission International (JCI). The "Heal in India" initiative, complemented by a dedicated web portal, emphasizes the Indian government's commitment to medical tourism. Developing trust among likely medical tourists is quintessential as it creates confidence in the quality, safety, ethical standards and transparency of healthcare, overwhelmingly influencing the choice of medical tourism destination. Social media can nurture trust among potential medical tourists, in some way contributing to economic growth in medical tourism destinations by augmenting reputation and visibility, thereby enticing a steady influx of patients through positive word-of-mouth marketing. Trustworthiness authenticated through informative content that is transparent influences decision-making, leading to increased patient inflow and revenue generation. Adapting content to align with cultural subtleties builds trust and increases the appeal of a destination, expanding its clientele with an economic impact extending to ancillary industries. Thus, within social media, vital for healthcare marketing, this study advocates leveraging online platforms such as Facebook (Meta), Twitter, and Instagram to foster trust among potential medical tourists. Steered by Hofstede's Cultural Dimensions Theory, which explores communication styles, power distance, uncertainty avoidance, and individualism/collectivism, this research establishes a nuanced conceptual framework for tailoring social media content strategies based on Individualism/collectivism dimension. In individualistic cultures, content highlighting personal testimonials and individual success stories may resonate, building trust in the provider's expertise. Conversely, collectivist societies may favour content emphasizing community and shared experiences, establishing trust through collective endorsement. The dimension of indulgence/restraint directs content tone, with culturally attuned approaches aligning with societal values. By integrating these cultural insights into social media content strategies, healthcare marketers can effectively build trust, ensuring resonance with diverse audiences in the medical tourism landscape. This study proposes a robust conceptual framework aligning social media content strategies with cultural nuances, cultivating trust among varied global audiences. The synthesis of Hofstede's theory and tailored social media approaches emerges as a potent means to reinforce India's position as a preferred destination for medical tourism and advance the broader discourse on cross-cultural healthcare communication.