Malaysian medical tourism industry in the pink of health

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s medical tourism industry is expected to generate RM1.3 billion revenue based on a projected growth of 20-30% this year, said Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC) CEO Sherene Azli.

“Based on the current tally of last year’s numbers, we are looking at about RM1.3 billion this year and we are looking at about one million medical travelers for 2017,” she told reporters at the announcement of the 2017 theme “Share My Love” for the Malaysia Loves You campaign yesterday.

Sherene said the number of medical travelers for 2016, which is still being tallied, is estimated at 900,000 with revenue exceeding RM1 billion on hospital charges alone.

On average, each patient spends over RM1,000 on treatment per visit. Including other expenditures like transportation, food, hotel and shopping, the total revenue is estimated at RM5 billion last year.

“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 but 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,” she added.

Sherene said the excess capacity and healthcare transformation which enables post-surgery daycare services, opens up potential for Malaysian private hospitals to market themselves to medical travelers.

In order to achieve the RM1.3 billion target this year, MHTC will focus on countries closer to Malaysia that have demand for overseas travel as well as medical travelers who seek quality and affordable healthcare.

“We target countries that used to go to for treatment elsewhere but due to currency movement, it has become less affordable for them so we go into those countries,” said Sherene.

She said medical travelers from China alone have grown 30% from 2015 to 2016, which is encouraging as China used to seek treatment from countries like the UK, the US, Japan and Korea.

This year, MHTC will focus on promoting targeted services with different packages to countries namely Indonesia, China, Vietnam, Myanmar and India. Indonesia remains the biggest contributor, making up 70% of total revenue last year.

The top five services medical travelers come to Malaysia for cardiology, oncology, orthopedic, IVF and blood-related treatment. Other services that are sought after include geriatric care, dental and cosmetics.Sherene said Malaysia is an attractive medical tourism destination due to the quality of healthcare services and affordability, as all professional charges are regulated by the Health Ministry
Established in 2009, MHTC is an agency under the Health Ministry tasked to raise Malaysia’s profile as top-of-mind destination for world class healthcare services. The council facilitates the overall development of medical tourism by coordinating industry collaborations and building public-private partnerships.