PETALING JAYA: Malaysia has been recognised as among the top four destinations for foreigners, especially those from developed countries, to get good healthcare.
This was revealed in a report by International Living, a publication for people who are interested in an expat lifestyle, retiring in a tropical haven, or just travelling overseas for more affordable medical treatment.
Malaysia is also the only Asian country in the report titled “4 Countries With The Best Healthcare In The World”, ahead of Costa Rica, Colombia and Mexico which are second, third and fourth, respectively.
The publication said the healthcare available is sometimes even better than what’s on offer in developed countries, and “at a more affordable price too”.
In trying to evaluate the quality of healthcare, International Living put a number on the price of medical procedures, looking at the costs (as well as quality) to score each of the 24 countries in the healthcare category of the publication’s 2017 Global Retirement Index, before arriving at the top four.
According to the report, the key benefit for getting good healthcare in Malaysia is that the doctors speak English and that we have some of the best-trained doctors in Asia, with many graduating from the United States, United Kingdom and Australia.
“Numerous hospitals in Penang and Kuala Lumpur are among Southeast Asia’s first recipients of the US’ prestigious Joint Commission International (JCI) certification. Seen as the gold standard for healthcare service providers around the world, Malaysia has no less than eight JCI-accredited hospitals,” International Living said.
The Lam Wah Ee Hospital in Penang received special praise for being a “not for profit” hospital that shows professionalism, according to the writer of the report, who had been to the hospital before.
“Other considerations to take into account are that there is little to no waiting time when you arrive. It’s as simple as registering at the hospital of your choice and then waiting for that particular specialist to see you.
“You also don’t need to be referred to that particular specialist by a general practitioner,” International Living said.
Local medical tourism industry
It is not surprising then, that the Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC) expects the medical tourism industry in the country to grow a further 20-30% and generate RM1.3 billion in revenue this year.
“Based on last year’s numbers, we are looking at about RM1.3 billion this year and we are looking at about one million travellers coming here for medical tourism for 2017,” MHTC CEO Sherene Azli was quoted as saying by theSun yesterday.
She added that the number of medical travellers in 2016 was estimated at 900,000 with revenue exceeding RM1 billion on hospital charges alone.
Incidental spending outside of hospital fees is where the country stands to gain, with patients and their families accumulating an estimated RM5 billion in expenditure on transportation, hotel, food and shopping.
“I think the industry is growing at about 20-30% now because our private hospitals do have the capacity to handle this kind of volume. I think in the last 20 years we have been focused on giving Malaysians the best healthcare services possible.
“However, now with the number of private hospitals growing, and also the bed capacity in those hospitals growing, we are now having excess capacity and hence the industry is now being pushed further to be one of the key services,” Sherene said, according to the daily.
For this year, MHTC will focus on countries closer to Malaysia that have demand for overseas travel as well as medical travellers who seek quality and affordable healthcare.
“The number of patients from China have grown by 30% last year against 2015. That is a sign that many from China are turning to Malaysia, and this is encouraging as most Chinese used to seek treatment from countries like the UK, the US, Japan and Korea.”
Meanwhile, Indonesia remains the biggest contributor to the medical tourism industry, making up 70% of total revenue last year.
MHTC was formed in 2009 as the industry started to boom. It is an agency under the health ministry.