Views of Indonesian consumer towards medical tourism experience in Malaysia

Harriman Samuel Saragih, Peter Jonathan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Indonesians are known for their unique behaviour and willingness to travel abroad for healthcare treatments. More than half of the healthcare “tourists” who travel to Malaysia come from Indonesia, followed in numbers by those in India, Japan, and China, Libya, the UK, Australia, USA, Bangladesh and the Philippines. Malaysia is also geographically located near two Indonesian main islands, i.e. North Sumatera and North Kalimantan. These reasons contribute to making Indonesia one of the most productive healthcare consumers in Malaysia. This study aims to examine these Indonesian consumers’ through the use of behavioural lenses to examine their medical tourism experiences in Malaysia, its neighbouring country. Design/methodology/approach: The theory of planned behaviour is used as the basis of these analyses and hypotheses development. In total, 7 variables and 18 indicators that built both the exogenous and endogenous variables were developed from previous literature. Through a purposive sampling technique, the authors collected 200 samples of individuals where each respondent must at least have been to Malaysia once for medical treatments related to a general check-up, cardiovascular, cancer, orthopaedics, nervous systems or dental problems. A partial least squares – structural equation modelling analysis was carried out to examine both the measurement model and the structural model. Findings: Behavioural belief positively affects the attitude of Indonesian patients and their intentions to visit Malaysia for medical treatment, i.e. attitude, subjective norms and perceived behavioural control. Results show that as individuals, Indonesians have a strong belief that undergoing medical treatment in Malaysia will be more favourable than having that same medical treatment in Indonesia. The study also shows that people who are considered important to patients, e.g. family members or relatives, significantly influence their intention to visit Malaysian medical institutions. The authors also found that patients’ resources and capabilities – e.g. financial strength, supporting infrastructures and time availability – are essential factors for Indonesian patients to choose medical tourism and to visit Malaysia as their venue for medical services. Research limitations/implications: The results of this study are consistent with the previous research, which has shown that attitude, subjective norms and perceived behavioural control positively affect visit intention. The results also suggest new interesting theoretical findings that Indonesia’s medical tourist intention to visit Malaysia is most strongly caused by subjective norms followed by individual attitudes and perceived behavioural control, all reasons that are identical to Japanese medical tourists’ visiting South Korea for similar purposes. Indeed, there are similar behavioural practices and beliefs among both Indonesian and Japanese medical tourists, despite the gap existing in these two countries’ economies. Practical implications: The study proposes two managerial implications using its findings. First, this study can be a basis for the Malaysian medical tourism business to better understand Indonesian medical tourists’ behaviour when visiting their country. The study explicitly suggests that it is both collective and individual beliefs that drive Indonesian patients, who have the sufficient resources, to visit Malaysia because of better quality and affordability available there compared to Indonesian medical services. Second, this study raises a fundamental question about Indonesian stakeholders in the medical industry. In the near future, this type of medical tourism behaviour will, without a doubt, affect the Indonesian economy at large. Originality/value: The contributions of this study are twofold. First, compared to previous studies that focussed specifically on the developed countries, this study focusses on Indonesian consumers’ point of view as an emerging country towards Malaysia’s medical tourism business. Second, this study provides quantifiable insights on the Indonesia-Malaysia medical tourism phenomenon, which previously has been frequently discussed, but only using a qualitative exploratory approach.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)507-524
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Asia Business Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Indonesia
  • Malaysia
  • Medical tourism
  • Planned behaviour

Cite this