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Posts tagged ‘Medical Tourism’

AFP: Rich Russians eye medical tourism to Finland

Russian patient Valentina Micheeva talks to her doctor Irina Ivanova after her operation in Tampere, Finland (AFP/File, Pauline Curtet)

TAMPERE, Finland — Sitting on a hospital bed with a slight smile on her face, Valentina Micheeva looks a decade younger than her 80 years as she explains how four days earlier she had her hip replaced — not in her native Russia but at a clinic in Finland.

A sports-loving woman, she had to stop jogging because her hip ached and, despite the pain, she was unable to get an operation performed at home in Moscow.

“I was too old to get a prosthesis. They only gave me painkillers,” she said. “There are good doctors in Russia. But too many people want to visit them! If you don’t have connections, it’s very complicated.”

The only solution that remained was surgery abroad. “My daughter lives in Finland. She heard about the Coxa (Clinic) on television and told me to come here,” she said.

Each year, the Coxa Clinic in Tampere in southern Finland, which is majority public-owned, welcomes about 20 Russians among its 3,000 patients.

“It’s not a lot yet, but we haven’t been looking for foreign patients for a long time,” said Tarmo Martikainen, the clinic’s CEO.

“We would like to have a hundred foreign patients per year,” he added.

Coxa HealthCareFinland, together with other Finnish hospitals, has formed a group to attract Russian patients, seeking to benefit from the Finnish health sector’s competitive advantages.

Although they’re out of reach for most Russians, Finnish healthcare providers say their services are competitively priced compared with other countries targeting Russia’s wealthy.

“Our prices are lower than in Germany for instance, and we’re much closer. You only need six hours to go by train from Saint Petersburg to Tampere,” said Jorma Pajamaaki, one of the clinic’s surgeons.

Treating foreign patients however poses some problems. “Language is probably the biggest obstacle,” said Pajamaaki.

To tackle the language barrier, Coxa has recruited Russian staff such as Irina Ivanova, a medical doctor who is in charge of receiving new patients and translating for them.

Next to her hospital bed, Valentina Micheeva proudly displays a stack of laminated vocabulary cards showing the same words in Russian and in Finnish.

But special care comes at a price.

“Coming to Finland for surgery is very expensive for the Russian patients. I think it’s about the price of a (luxury) car,” Ivanova said.

In recent years, Finnish medical institutions have been seeking to take advantage of flaws in the Russian health system. It’s already big business, but it could expand even more.

In 2011, about 10,000 Russians spent 15 million euros ($19.5 million) on health services in Finland, ranging from dental surgery to cancer treatments. Industry professionals hope to see the market triple by 2020.

“Finland advertises more and more abroad about its medical facilities,” said Martikainen. “Logically, it turns to Russia because it is the nearest market.”

The Russo-Finnish trade relationship, which has traditionally been based on energy, is likely to see major changes because of industries such as medical services.

“Russia is the only country towards which Finnish exports are increasing. It is our second business partner after Sweden,” said Timo Laukkanen, a Russia expert at the Confederation of Finnish Industries.

Nearly a century after the independence of Finland from Russia, “business issues have already become more important than political or military issues,” said Laukkanen.

“Russia could become our biggest trading partner in a few years,” added another expert, Markku Kivinen.

via AFP: Rich Russians eye medical tourism to Finland.

Medical tourism in Thailand on the rise

Illustration of a physician with a stethoscope. (AFP/Karen Bleier)

Medical tourism is a billion dollar industry in Southeast Asia — and countries like Singapore and Thailand are growing the share of the market by offering state-of-the-art medical services at affordable prices.

SINGAPORE: A growing number of people are seeking medical treatment in Thailand as healthcare costs at other countries rise. Thailand is actively developing its medical tourism sector — offering high-quality treatment and service at affordable prices.

According to a survey of 13,000 tourists done by VISA, six per cent said they traveled for health reasons.

Ooi Huey Tyng, country manager for Singapore and Brunei at VISA Worldwide, said: “31 per cent of these people actually chose Southeast Asia as their travel destinations, with Thailand and Singapore coming out as top destinations in the Southeast Asian countries.

“The two countries combined actually attracted 3.1 million in terms of foreign patients, with Thailand attracting 2.4 million and Singapore about 850,000.”

According to the study, Thailand ranks number nine, and Singapore number 13 among the world’s top destinations for medical tourists.

The reason is simple — cost. Treatments in Bangkok are generally 25 per cent cheaper than in Singapore.

Nithiwat Gusriurai, deputy director of Bangkok Hospital, said: “The advantages of Thailand compared to Singapore and Malaysia are price and hospitality. Thailand is also a major tourist destination. However, our weakness is the English language. We have less English-speaking people compared to Singapore and Malaysia.”

Even so, the number of foreign patients in Thailand grows at a yearly rate of 16 per cent. In 2011, they generated US$3.15 billion in revenue, compared to just above US$800 million in Singapore.

In recent years, Thailand has been reporting a higher number of overseas patients from the United States and Western Europe who are choosing the Kingdom over Singapore because of lower costs.

Thailand is now turning to the middle-east to expand the medical tourism industry. Foreign patients from Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are now allowed to stay in Thailand for up to 90 days instead of just 30.

While Thailand attracts the budget conscious medical tourists, Singapore prefers to compete on high-quality healthcare. Although its medical services are the most expensive in the region, the island-state has a reputation for good high-end specialist care and surgery, such as neurosurgical procedures and heart transplants.

Singapore may get to maintain its title of Asia’s best healthcare system, as proclaimed by the World Health Organisation in 2000, but when it comes to medical tourism, it is cost-effectiveness that matters the most.

As long as Thailand continues to offer high-quality medical services at a more affordable price, it is most likely that the title of ASEAN’s top medical tourism destination will go to the Land of Smiles.

– CNA/ac

via Medical tourism in Thailand on the rise – Channel NewsAsia.

MHTC eyes RM630mil revenue for medical tourism

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC) expects the medical tourism industry to record RM630mil revenue this year, up from RM584 million last year.

“The number of foreign patients has increased year by year, and last year we had 671,000 patients, an increase from the 583,000 patients recorded in 2011.

“We believe this year, the medical tourism industry will continue to grow and we expect some 700,000 foreign patients will get their treatment here,” Chief Executive Officer Dr Mary Wong Lai Lin told a press conference here today.

Foreign patients continue to choose Malaysia for medical treatment as the country’s medical tourism industry is regulated by the government and the hospitals are well-equipped with the latest technology and facilities, she added.

Dr Wong said among the foreign patients that come to Malaysia for treatment were from Indonesia, India, Japan, China, UK, US, Australia, Bangladesh, Libya and Nepal.

MHTC, established under the Health Ministry, was set up as the primary agency to develop and promote the healthcare travel industry and to position Malaysia as the healthcare destination of choice in the region.

The agency strengthens public-private sector collaboration to formulate strategic plans for the development, promotion and coordination of healthcare travel services for Malaysian healthcare providers and related stakeholders.- Bernama

via MHTC eyes RM630mil revenue for medical tourism.

Malaysia has great potential in medical tourism

KUALA LUMPUR: Medical tourism has been identified as having the potential of being a revenue generator for the country due to the response shown by foreigners who seek quality healthcare services.

Foreigners come to Malaysia for medical tourism due to the low costs of healthcare services, complemented by existence of excellent medical technology and infrastructure.

The outcome of a survey conducted by a foreign-based body reveals that heart procedures conducted in Malaysia are 10 times cheaper than those conducted in the United States.

Indonesian tourists comprise the highest number of those seeking Malaysian healthcare services followed by visitors from Arab nations.

Efforts by Malacca to boost the number of Indonesian tourists seeking healthcare services in the state appear to be bearing fruit as more Indonesians are switching their attention from Singapore to Malacca for such services.

Statistics show that in 2010, some 60% of 280,000 tourists to Malaysia went to Malacca for medical treatment while Kuala Lumpur is the destination of choice for Arab tourists. According to KPJ Healthcare (KPJ) managing director Datin Paduka Siti Sa’adiah Sheikh Bakir, Arab visitors made up 8% of tourists who sought healthcare services at the group’s hospitals.

KPJ is Malaysia’s largest group of private hospitals.

“Many foreigners choose Malaysia for elective medical procedures particularly cancer, orthopaedic and cosmetic treatment,” she said after launching the Arab Community Day at KPJ Tawakal Hospital here recently.

As the Arabs prefer Malaysia as their destination for shopping, Siti Sa’adiah said that it was time for Malaysia to promote the medical tourism sector aggressively. “KPJ has been actively promoting its services to the Arab community for more than 10 years now,” she said. – Bernama

The Star

Medical tourism: Asian tigers reign supreme

Unspoiled beaches, dense rain forests, ample wildlife and the tropical climate have made the South East Asian states such as Malaysia and Thailand favourite destinations for tourists from all over the world over the past 20 years.

Finding themselves well positioned to catch the foreign exchange flowing out of the pockets of international travelers, the private sector players in these countries jumped to the fore with hundreds of splendid shopping malls, theme parks and other tourist attractions; all inviting tourists to spend more during their stay.

Over the past two decades, countries such as Malaysia have witnessed rising income levels and the general standard of living of citizens has improved in tandem. Due to the improved purchasing power of the local population, demand for the health and educational sectors has also soared.

Realising the potential benefits of a budding medical industry, the government has actively encouraged private healthcare providers and practitioners alike to set up operations in the country. Now, not only is this sector providing medical services to the local population; it is also eyeing potential clientele abroad.

“Healthcare costs in the West have always been relatively high. But now, as those economies slow down, people are ever more conscious of the affordability of healthcare services as much as they value the quality of these services” explained Sarah Albert from the Island Hospital, Penang in a recent interaction with BR Research.

Singapore has long been a favoured destination for those seeking quality healthcare services at affordable rates. Now its regional peers are also ratcheting up a storm in the sector, developing expertise in myriad medical services.

Malaysia is emerging as a major destination for those seeking knee cap replacement, spinal fusion and other joint-related surgeries and medical procedures.

Meanwhile Thailand is now home to an ever-increasing number of cosmetic surgery and related services providers including liposuction, facelifts and anti-ageing treatments. In India, heart-related ailments are being treated at world-class facilities at rates that are competitive globally. In all these cases, the low cost of quality health care services is a major driving force behind the rising trend of medical tourism to these destinations.

Though only the relatively affluent Pakistanis can afford to travel abroad to receive medical attention for their ailments, the emergence of the Far East as a destination for medical services bodes well for the not-so-wealthy. “Traveling to Malaysia or Thailand is not as expensive as going to Europe or North America and the visa process is also relatively easier. Then the cost of obtaining these services is also much lower in these countries” explained Director of Lahore-based, Waseem Travel and Tours, Malik Muhammad Yaqoob.

Add to this the globally competitive rates and quality of medical services in these countries and it is easy to rationalise the emerging trend of medical tourism there from Pakistan and abroad.

Cost of Medical Procedures
USD   US India Thailand  Singapore Malaysia
Heart Valve Replacement        160,000         9,000         10,000         12,500           9,000
Hip Replacement          43,000         9,000         12,000         12,000         10,000
Hyterectomy          20,000         3,000           4,500           6,000           3,000
Knee Replacement          40,000         8,500         10,000         13,000           8,000
Spinal Fusion          62,000         5,500           7,000           9,000           6,000

Business Recorder

Taiwan, South Korea agree to collaborate on medical tourism

Taipei, Sept. 1 (CNA) A Taiwanese group has concluded a visit in South Korea to tap the country’s experience in boosting medical tourism, and health and travel professionals from both sides have agreed to expand exchanges.

During the five-day trip that started Aug. 26, the group visited local hospitals and tour agencies in Seoul and discussed collaboration opportunities at a forum in an effort to help medical institutions in Taiwan strategize how to draw medical tourists.

Taiwan could learn from South Korea, which quickly made a name for its medical services globally, thanks to a combination of state support and effective marketing by businesses, said the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) Saturday.

The South Korean government burnished the country’s image as a provider of quality health services by first offering to treat patients with serious or rare conditions from developing countries and inviting the international media to cover the treatments, said TAITRA, which organized the visit.

The government also invested heavily in advertisements overseas, commissioning the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) to help promote the country’s medical tourism, the council added.

Citing another example of state support, TAITRA said health authorities and the Korea Health Industry Development Institute, a state-funded agency that promotes Korea’s health industry, worked together in quality checks on medical institutions and cosmetic surgery operators.

In addition, plastic surgery providers successfully sold themselves through testimonial advertising and by placing their products and services in dramas featuring pop idols, TAITRA said.

According to KTO estimates, South Korea recorded over 120,000 medical tourist arrivals in 2011.

However, the figure could have been as high as 480,000 if the KTO took into consideration sightseers whose secondary purpose of visit was minor cosmetic operations or medical treatments, TAITRA said.

The KTO predicted that the number of medical tourism arrivals will shoot up to 1 million in 2020.

Taiwan has of late been seeking to boost its medical tourism industry. Recent efforts have included putting up advertisements at major airports in China and Vietnam as well as issuing medical travel visas for independent Chinese tourists.

(By Lin Meng-ju and Scully Hsiao)


Liow: Ministry’s medical tourism target surpassed

KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry has surpassed the expected target for medical tourism.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the revenue last year was RM511mil, an increase of 18.6% from RM431mil in 2010.

“We expect it to hit RM600mil by year-end,” he said at a press conference after opening the 20th APHM International Healthcare Conference and Exhibition 2012 yesterday.

Liow said the RM600mil could easily be achieved as up to May 31, as many as 236,836 foreign medical tourists had been treated, bringing in a total revenue of RM200.4mil.

He said tourist arrivals had also been growing at the rate of 30% for the last five years.

The popular areas of medical tourism were cardiology and orthopaedic surgery while aesthetic medicine was also fast catching up.

He said the Government had given all ministries the task of contributing to the economic growth of the nation, adding that the Health Ministry had worked together with its partners and other stakeholders to achieve the target through medical tourism.

On another matter, Liow said government hospitals still lacked specialists and hoped that more doctors would move towards specialisation.

“My intention is to offer specialist services at all district hospitals,” he said, adding that the private sector too should train specialists as currently, most were trained by the Government.

Asked if there was any progress on the issue of Lincoln University College (LUC) recruiting students for three unrecognised medical schools in Ukraine, Liow said he would look into it again.

The Star

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