Asia medical tourism market is expected to exceed US$14 billion mark by 2022. Southeast Asia will continue to be the top medical destination for medical travel as medical and healthcare service offerings improve compared with other destinations.
Among the countries in Asia, Thailand holds the largest share of the Asia medical tourism market. India and Singapore come second and third.
South Korea is also a strong contender in the medical tourism space. The country holds the fourth spot in the year 2016. And, it is also likely to almost double its market share by the year 2022.
Malaysia’s medical tourism receipts are also growing strong due to its weakened currency. In 2016, Malaysia saw 940,000 medical tourists.
Globally, medical tourism market was valued at USD 19.7 billion in 2016. It is estimated to reach USD 46.6 billion by 2021, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 18.8%.
Doom and Gloom in Singapore Medical Tourism?
Singapore sees softening of medical tourism receipts and her reign as the region’s top medical tourism destination shaky, given the strength of the Singapore dollar and hence the high cost of medical treatment.
Local government support for medical tourism in Singapore has also waned in recent years. More patients now eye better value for money treatments in neighbouring countries such as Thailand, Malaysia and India.
In what seems like lustre loss to the city state’s leadership position as a medical tourism destination, Singapore’s healthcare players and government are actually hatching new strategies as the nation combats rising costs and growing competition.
Singapore Medical Tourism Working the Oomph?
Ranked fourth in Global 2016 Medical Tourism Index, Singapore remains the top medical tourism destinations in the world.
Singapore is also one of the most developed countries in the world, maintaining the top spot in the World Health Organization’s ranking of healthcare in Asian countries.
International patients are attracted to Singapore mainly due to the country’s famed efficient healthcare system, advanced medical technology and patient outcome. Specialties in cardiology, neurology, oncology, ophthalmology, organ transplants, orthopaedics, and paediatrics are examples of high-end complex surgical procedures that are popular among patients.
The top international patient sources for Singapore medical tourism receipts are Indonesia, Malaysia and China. Singapore is also a popular medical tourism destination for patients from Australia, UK, Hong Kong and Thailand.
Singapore VS The World
Even as neighbouring countries vie for a slice of the medical tourism pie, Singapore still has the edge. The country is working its premium in specialist cases which require highly complex surgeries and treatments.
Singapore is recognised its pool of experienced doctors and high standard of equipment. Expertise in advanced cancer treatments, major abdominal, blood vessel, bypass and minimally invasive surgeries and robotic operations also surpasses that of neighbouring countries.
While improvements in general and cosmetic procedures are attracting patients to neighbouring countries, there is a new pool of patients emerging from other Southeast Asian countries such as Vietnam. Singapore is also attractive as a medical tourism destination to patients from Europe and Australia where medical technology adoption rate is slower, and treatments are more expensive.
The Singapore Brand
Some hospital groups have leveraged on Singapore’s reputable healthcare brand and brought it overseas. The aim is to attract patients in populous countries such as China and India. And of course, to counter the migration of medical tourist.
SGX-listed Health Management International (HMI), for example, runs Regency Specialist Hospital in Johor. Raffles Medical, one of Singapore’s largest private healthcare institution, is also building two hospitals in China. Parkway Pantai, the company behind Mount Elizabeth and Gleneagles brand of hospitals, owns 28 hospitals in Malaysia, Singapore, India, Greater China, Brunei and the UAE.
While medical tourists may be declining, medical tourism receipts in Singapore remain strong as the city-state redefines its competitive medical edge.
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