The booming of medical tourism in Southeast Asia
Recently, the industry of medical tourism in Southeast Asia has undergone significant growth thanks to its combination of quality medical services, competitive fees, and medical staff expertise. In particular, the most popular destinations for international patients include Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore. Over the years, these countries have been launching initiatives to improve their capacity and infrastructure, with the aim of expanding their market share in the medical tourism market.
A quick look at medical tourism in Southeast Asia
According to the statistics of Marsh & McLennan, in 2016, about 105-120 million people all over the world went abroad for medical examination and treatment. This number is expected to increase 10-14% per annum over the next 3 years. The total revenue for the medical tourism industry in 2016 was 150 billion euros ($ 177 billion) and is expected to increase to 200 billion euros by 2020.
Compared to other regions, the Southeast Asian healthcare market is expanding at a much faster pace. Foreign patients provide a major source of revenue for regional private hospitals, accounting for 40-55% of revenue in countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand. In India, medical tourism accounts for 25% of revenue, and 10-15% in the Philippines, South Korea, and Taiwan.
In 2016, the Asia-Pacific medical tourism industry received about 10 million patients and generated € 15-17 billion in revenue. In particular, India has attracted more than 4 million international patients, with a total earning of 4 billion euros. Similarly, in Thailand, 3.5 million foreign patients spent more than 4 billion euros on health care services in 2016. In Singapore, the turnover of the medical tourism industry was about 1.6 billion euros. , with nearly 900,000 patients in 2016.
It is predicted that in the next 3 years, medical tourism in Southeast Asia will continue to grow by 15-17% per year.
Medical tourism in Southeast Asia – 2016 statistics
Source: Marsh & McLennan
Developing medical tourism in Southeast Asia – How it impacts the region
Fierce competition is the reason why private hospitals in the region are constantly upgrading facilities and boosting their service capacity. Recently, the health tourism industry has begun to attract many international hospital groups and investors seeking to penetrate this lucrative market.
Countries wishing to develop medical tourism are cooperating with large multinational corporations. For example, the Mayo Clinic cooperates with Raffles Group in Singapore, Cleveland Abu Dhabi Clinic, John Hopkins Singapore and Anadolo Medical Center in Turkey. Increasing competition among health facilities, on one hand, contributes to diversifying investment and services. On the other hand, it also results in cost pressure and affects service quality.
The growth of medical tourism in Southeast Asia has left certain impacts on the medical technology market (MedTech) segment. The revenue of Southeast Asia and India accounts for more than 50 billion euros, equivalent to more than 10% of the global medical technology market, and is growing faster (7.5%) than any other region in the world. The development of medical tourism in Southeast Asia has affected the products and customer service of health facilities. At the same time, this trend also creates new opportunities for global and local health technology companies.
In addition, there has been a recent increase in demand for remote treatment and e-health portals. Over the years, health technology companies have stepped up group purchasing and central storage, as well as providing innovative value-based and IT-based solutions to improve/protect their competitive edge. Additionally, they are also transitioning from product-focused services to custom value-based solutions.
What contributes to the development of medical tourism in Southeast Asia?
There are many reasons for the continuous development of medical tourism in Southeast Asia.
In developed countries, wealthy patients are eager to experience high-quality medical services in an international standard environment – that’s why they seek treatment provided by foreign medical facilities. Meanwhile, the middle-class and low-insured patients in developed countries feel dissatisfied with the domestic medical cost and long waiting list. Therefore, they decide to choose medical services abroad in order to reduce costs and receive treatment promptly.
Healthcare insurance companies urge patients to seek more effective medical terms outside their home country, and the costs of treatment in medical tourism destinations are often lower.
Moreover, health insurance in developed countries usually does not cover categories such as cosmetic and dental surgery. In that case, going abroad for medical examination and treatment becomes a worthy consideration.
Due to the potential benefits of the health tourism industry, local governments have been actively promoting policies that “appeal” to international patients. Health facilities implement referral systems to attract patients, while medical travel companies provide national and hospital selection services. To meet the current demand, businessmen have been building advanced technology-based systems using domestic and foreign capital. They employ internationally-trained doctors, technicians, and nurses.
Along with the development of international transportation, airfares have become more affordable, which contributes to the booming of medical tourism in Southeast Asia.
Finally, many countries in the region see medical tourism as a resource for economic development. For example, the Ministry of Tourism in Thailand, Malaysia and India have actively introduced policies to promote medical tourism in their countries. At the same time, investor chains and private hospitals view medical tourism in the Asia-Pacific region as an attractive business opportunity; therefore, they have decided to invest in infrastructure, equipment, staff, and service.
An overview of medical tourism in Southeast Asia
Source: The ASEAN Post
Top 3 medical tourism destinations in Southeast Asia
Singapore is one of the top destinations for medical tourism in Southeast Asia. According to STB (Singapore Tourism Board), every year, international patients come to Singapore for medical care – ranging from general examination to specialized surgery such as cardiology, neurology, cancer, ophthalmology, organ transplant, orthopedic surgery. In 2013, revenue from medical tourists was about $ 618.4 million (S $ 832 million). Currently, 21 hospitals and health facilities in Singapore have been awarded the prestigious Joint International Commission (JCI).
Malaysia is known as one of the most popular medical tourism destinations in the region, thanks to its international standard medical services and competitive prices. The local Ministry of Health has issued strict rules to ensure the standards and safety of domestic medical services. In 2016, revenue from medical tourism was recorded at $ 238.8 million (A $ 1 billion) from about 900,000 medical tourists.
According to Malaysia Medical Tourism Board (MHTC) chief executive Sherene Azli, the growth rate of medical tourism in Malaysia is about 30% annually. Malaysia has a high-quality, easily accessible, affordable healthcare system. The contribution of medical tourists to the economy is double that of regular tourists. On average, a foreign patient spends about $ 239 (AU $ 1,000) per visit.
Medical tourism in Thailand has been thriving thanks to high-quality treatment services that come at affordable prices. Medical tourists often choose Thailand to perform cosmetic, dental, cardiovascular, orthopedic, infertility treatment, maxillofacial surgery, ophthalmology, and eye surgery. The leading private hospitals in Thailand include Bumrungrad International Hospital, Bangkok Hospital Group, and Samitivej Hospital.
GO.CARE – The leading platform for medical tourism in Southeast Asia
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