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The increased competition in health care service provision is an indication that health institutions operating in the same location must package and brand their services to attract and retain customers. This is done through differentiation and positioning strategies, both targeting to increase the business visibility and preference to the clients. Differentiation is a generic strategy that health institutions can use to have greater competitive advantage and increase their market share. As noted by Kotler, Berger & Bickhoff (2010), differentiation inculcates the provision of unique products and services, which are not provided by the competitor in the same niche. The characteristics of such strategy may include high quality and superior services which are distinct in design and taste. Differentiation mainly has two purposes to accomplish. First is to give customers a good reason to choose the services from a particular company as opposed to the competitor. The second purpose is to attract a premium charge on the services and products provided by the company or institution. Differentiation is mainly based on the principle that consumers are always willing to pay extra cash for services, which they consider superior and of high quality.

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Positioning on the other hand is a strategy used by health institutions to manipulate their image in the presence of their targeted clients. This might include measures like individual branding as either low-cost company or high-cost company, depending on where the hospital is going to locate its premises. Institutions located in upscale areas offer services with a higher premium compared to those located in the lower scale areas. Some institutions might position their services in both areas and charge differently, depending on the income scale of the region in which they are located. As such, products and services are intentionally positioned to meet the requirements and expectations of different clients. Positioning is built on the concept that a company must be able to provide something for everyone regardless of their financial status. The two marketing strategies are related with one another by the fact that positioning precedes differentiation(Rao, 2010). For instance, health institutions first differentiate their portfolio by providing high quality services in their clinics before positioning themselves in the minds of the clients as high or low level customer service institutions. This paper compares and contrasts the differentiation and positioning strategies of Mediclinic City Hospital and America Hospital Dubai both based in Dubai and located in the same region (Johnson, 2010).

Similarities and Contrasts in Differentiation and Positioning of Mediclinic City Hospital and America Hospital Dubai

Both Mediclinic City Hospital and America Hospital Dubai have differentiated and positioned their health care services as designation hospital in the country and the entire Middle East region. The differentiation is evident in the services, the hospital image, personnel, and the technological facilities used for treatment. The marketing and branding strategies used by both hospitals, such as recruiting highly qualified staff and modern facilities, are both aimed at attracting new patients. For instance, the American Hospital Dubai has lined up American accredited doctors and physicians who are annually appraised to ensure that their skills and knowledge in the contemporary treatment are the best. Similarly, Mediclinic has a vast pool of experienced human resources in terms of doctors drawn from its international branches across the world. The medical staffs at the hospital are committed to provision of clinical quality services by focusing on the structures, processes, and the outcome of the care. Both hospitals have ensured that their infrastructures are of high standard with sophisticated care processes, which meet the international health clinical standards. The two hospitals also deal with a highly differentiated treatment not only in terms of care delivery to the patients, but also in the kind of ailment that they treat (American Hospital Dubai, 2013).

In terms of positioning, American Hospital Dubai has built centers of excellence at its premises where it treats special cases as requested by the client. The centers of excellence are highly monitored and heavily equipped buildings, where patients can get specialized attention from the physicians at the hospital. Some of the centers of excellence that establishes American Hospital  Dubai are a superior quality service hospital include;  Total Joint Replacement,  Neuroscience Center, Cancer Care Center, Orthopedics & Sports Medicine, Cochlear Implant, The Heart Center,  Breast Care Clinic, Kidney Dialysis, Diabetes, and Sleep Lab.Mediclinic Hospital on the other side has opened numerous branches across Dubai city that serve both high-end and low-end consumers depending on where the hospital branch is located. For instance, there is the Mediclinic welfare hospital, Mediclinic Dubai Mall, Mediclinic Ibn Battuta among others. These numerous branches are aimed at ensuring that the clinic can serve each person in the city regardless of their location and financial capacity (Mediclinic City Hospital, 2013).

In terms of infrastructures, American Hospital Dubai with its well-polished facilities has positioned itself as a premium priced hospital. It has continuously rolled out new enhanced services and facilities such as Bed Tower, which is part of the overall campus expansion program, to increase the number of beds available for patients. Furthermore, the hospital positions itself as a premium priced institution with the state of the art medical facilities like the radiotherapy tools with specifically dedicated Radio Oncology Clinic that uses technologically superior RapidArc equipments. These equipments will definitely increase the rating from the customers and make the American Hospital Dubai to stand out as a highly priced by superior quality hospital in Dubai and Middle East region. American Hospital Dubai has also positioned itself as a hospital of choice by providing diverse health care services with specialized packages to meet specific needs of the patients. The diversification is a common approach with other competing health institutions like Mediclinic. However, at American Hospital Dubai it is not only about diversity of services, but quality and customer-centeredness is emphasized in the actual treatment rooms. Here, the patient is given personal attention from highly qualified hospital staff with American and international accreditation (Mediclinic City Hospital, 2013).

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Over the years, the two hospitals have opened up new facilities to cater for the increasing demand for their services. For instance, as a need to provide customized services, American Hospital Dubai increased its size in 2004 by 25 percent as a result of growing demand for personalized health care services provided in a highly comfortable and convenient environment. The acquisition of specialized equipments by the hospital also acted as a differentiation strategy that was intended at giving the hospital a better position to target specific patients with specialized services. The hospital also provides well-designed and manned outpatient services at its Outpatient Clinic Building, which offers additional capacity. The additional capacity allows the hospital to expand on the current physician services in specialized medical practices, such as Obstetric and Gynecology, Pediatrics, Primary Care, Surgery, and Oncology (American Hospital Dubai, 2013).

Introduction of new services by both hospitals is also a positioning strategy evident in the marketing of their services. The two hospitals have continually introduced new advanced portfolio in the Dubai market, and consumers continue to rate the performance of these hospitals highly, compared to that of their competitors. The ability to acquire the latest technology tools and medical facilities in use is also an indication that the management of the two health institutions considers customer satisfaction as their number one priority, and this can be achieved through better facilities and highly trained personnel. Together with improvement on the facilities and services, the two hospitals have a continuous drive to recruit the best human resources available in the market to ensure that its pool of human resources are highly celebrated professionals in the medical field, and this is likely to built customer confidence in the services that are offered at the institution.  For American Hospital Dubai, it is possible for a patient who reaches to the hospital through online appointment to check through the educational background of the doctor before booking him or her for appointment (Mediclinic City Hospital, 2013).

Client interactivity is highly valued at both hospitals. They offer online appointment facilities to enable patients who wish to visit the hospitals to have a prior booking for their treatment. The American Hospital has an extra feature in the interactivity with customers as it allows the patients to browse the name of their personal doctor and make a personal booking with a particular physician. This puts the hospital in a better position to retain patients as it builds a rapport between the patient and the doctor. Patients may in effect feel that what they are paying for is worth the services they are going to get, because the doctor knows their health history and thus is better positioned to advice them well. This level of interaction is not evident in the Mediclinic City Hospital, because the patient is only supposed to make an online booking without specifying the doctor to consult (American Hospital Dubai, 2013).

The major difference in the positioning and differentiation between the two hospitals is the pool of human resources and personnel working at the institutions. The American Hospital Dubai is mainly operated by physicians and doctors who are trained and accredited with US medical accreditation systems. The skills and capacity that doctors at the hospital have are recognized in the US and, thus, because of the reputation of the United States systems, the hospital is likely to attract more clients. On the other hand, Mediclinic City Hospital builds on its historical capacity of providing health solutions to other countries for a long time to bring professionalism and expertise in the Dubai market (Mediclinic City Hospital, 2013). The staffs at Mediclinic are drawn from the best international staff that the company has had over the years prior to opening up its branch in Dubai. This definitely is a marketing strategy that shows the clients that Mediclinic is not only an international hospital well-experienced in the health solutions, but that it also has the best international human resources build over the years to give the patient the best quality services in the health care (American Hospital Dubai, 2013).

Conclusion

From the above analysis, it is evident that Mediclinic City Hospital and America Hospital Dubai are health institutions that have differentiated and positioned their services with Dubai city to appeal to their clients. The major purposes for the two hospitals differentiating their services to the clients is to give them better options and also to justify the premium prices that they charge their patients. Diversification of services and opening up of a center of excellence and branches for the two hospitals also aim at meeting the needs of every patient in the city. Among the differentiation and positioning strategies used by the two hospitals, include internationally recognized and qualified medical staff, and sophisticated and contemporary facilities in the treatment rooms. The hospitals have also positioned themselves through centers of excellence and specialized branches, where they target high scale customers who are willing to pay the premium price for the services they offer. Moreover, the specialized services are also intended at making the hospitals to stand out among other competing health institutions offering the same health care services. The differentiation and positioning strategies used by the two hospitals make them among the most competitive and sought after health institutions in Dubai and the Middle East

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