KPJ medical tourism on healthy footing

It sees revenue rising 20% on competitive pricing

KPJ Healthcare Bhd expects revenue from medical tourism to increase by 20% this year driven by its high level of clinical excellence and competitive pricing.

The group recorded a revenue of RM18.3mil from medical tourism last year.

Group managing director Datin Paduka Siti Sa’diah Sheikh Bakir said treatments being sought after by the tourists were plastic and reconstructive surgery, orthopaedics, cardiac and cancer treatments.

She said KPJ was positive that with the increasing number of services and wider range of facilities, its health tourism services would continue to grow this year.

Datin Paduka Siti Sa'diah Sheikh Bakri

“The contributing factors to our performance in health tourism is the quality of our services, competitive costs, regulated professional medical charges, well-trained medical consultants and similarity in culture and religions,” she said.

Foreign medical tourists who sought treatment at KPJ hospitals were from South East Asia, Australia, Britain, Japan, Korea and the Middle East. The majority, however, were from Indonesia.

To facilitate the foreign medical tourists, KPJ’s Ampang Puteri Specialist Hospital and Damansara Specialist Hospital have liaison officers and employees who are able to converse in Japanese, Korean, Arabic and Mandarin.

Siti Sa’diah added that men and women’s wellness programmes had become popular among health tourists, including those who were obese and had severe weight management problems.

“Among the popular services requested from the orthopaedic disciplines are hip and knee replacements.

Due to a rise in the ageing population, many more will seek elective orthopaedic surgery to ease pain and improve their lifestyles,” she said.

KPJ is also preparing Tawakal Specialist Hospital to specialise in orthopaedic surgeries by early next year. Ampang Puteri Specialist Hospital would continue to focus on its pain management programme.

Siti Sa’diah said most of the group’s health tourism patients seeking medical treatment or surgeries in the south were from Indonesia.

Most of them were from Tanjung Balai, Batam and Tanjung Pinang.

“They had opted for KPJ’s hospitals in Johor Baru because of the complete range of quality services rendered as well as the close proximity and accessibility to the hospitals.

Our costs are also very competitive compared with neighbouring countries,” she said.

The group has 615 medical specialists, all of whom are resident specialists, and this has been a strong point for KPJ.

Ampang Puteri Specialist Hospital

Siti Sa’diah said KPJ’s intensified marketing efforts were in line with its own growth strategy to transform itself into an international player, with a strong global presence.

The Government has targeted a 25% increase in revenue from health tourism this year up from the RM300mil achieved in 2007 from 340,000 foreign patients.

Although the group’s main income stream comes from hospital operations, KPJ also benefits from the export of its professional expertise in hospital management; hospital building, development and commissioning; nursing services and allied health services.

Siti Sa’diah said KPJ was keen to work with foreign partners through management strategic alliances or with stand-alone hospitals overseas via hospital management services contracts.

Although the group has ventured into Bangladesh, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia, there had been challenges due to different processes, systems, regulatory requirements and work culture.

Siti Sa’diah said KPJ had developed a structured process and systems in management and clinical areas. “With the appropriate systems and processes in place, we can just replicate them in the different countries with some adjustments in terms of culture,” she said.

Its nursing college in Nilai, which runs diploma courses in nursing, physiotherapy, pharmacy and also medical imaging, has trained 3,000 nurses so far.

Siti Sa’diah said KPJ planned to increase the enrolment from 1,200 to 5,000 in two to three years.

“We hope the college can be upgraded to university status so that we can offer more bachelor degrees and post-graduate programmes,” she said, adding that the nursing college was a strategic fit for the group as it provided a pool of well-trained staff for the hospitals.

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