PETALING JAYA: Malaysia is making a name for itself as a favoured medical tourism destination, giving the current champ Singapore, a run for its money.
According to a report in Singapore’s Straits Times, Medical Tourism Index data released last month, showed that while Singapore was the current favourite in the Asian region, Malaysia and Indonesia were catching up fast.
According to the news report, lower costs and the growing availability of quality care in Malaysia were luring tourists away from Singapore where medical costs often skyrocketed despite “patient experience” being ranked as the “most attractive”.
The news report compared a relatively low-cost total hip replacement operation at a private hospital in Singapore as costing in the region of $14,000 (RM43,000) while the same procedure at Mahkota Medical Centre in Malaysia would cost only $8,800 (RM27,140).
Besides lower costs, Malaysia’s “patient experience” also grew favourably between 2015 and this year, the Singapore daily reported.
While private hospitals in Singapore were now trying to retain patients by offering them a “luxury experience” akin to what one would encounter at a hotel for instance, umbrella organisations in Malaysia were driving national medical tourism efforts to great effect.
The Singapore daily cited Malaysia’s fast-tracked immigration processes and dedicated concierge services at two international airports as posing a “coordinated threat” to Singapore’s offerings.
Others countries with hospital groups that were doing the same were Indonesia and Thailand.
As a consequence, the daily said Singapore was now looking elsewhere for its patients i.e. Bangladesh, Myanmar, India and China.
However founder of consultancy firm Asian Healthcare Solutions and former chief executive of Gleneagles Hospital Singapore, Dr Vincent Chia, remained upbeat about Singapore’s medical tourism proposition.
Saying Singapore was still the top choice in the region for patients who needed world-class care for complex conditions, Dr Chia explained that new drugs for life-threatening conditions like cancer was approved for use relatively faster in Singapore compared to elsewhere in the Asian region.
“Now they (patients) are travelling to places like the United States to get such drugs. Why not get them to come to Singapore?” he said of affluent patients in countries like China.