For the past 10 decades, through a joint effort between The Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC) and the Malaysian healthcare service providers, our country’s medical sector has grown to be one of the world’s top healthcare destinations. Medical tourism is without a doubt an income generating industry for Malaysia; this achievement is strongly reflected in the annual revenue which grew by 16% from a reported RM900 million last year.
That is why KPJ Berhad (KPJ), Malaysia’s leading player in the healthcare segment has been working hand in hand with the government to position Malaysia as the hub for medical tourism in Asia. Scenic beach side locations, affordable medical fee and high quality facilities and infrastructure with higher-than-average availability of medical personnel are some of the factors that influenced the patient’s decision, hence it made perfect sense to capitalise on key tourism destinations such as Penang, Malacca and (particularly) Iskandar Malaysia.
THE ISKANDAR PULL FACTOR
Located in the southern gateway to Peninsular Malaysia, Iskandar Malaysia sits just 40 minutes away from the neighbouring Singapore and within six to eight hours flight radius from big Asian cities such as Bangalore, Dubai, Hong Kong and Tokyo. Its strategic location and affordable cost are poised to attract an exciting influx patients from other countries who are either seeking for medical treatment not yet available in their homelands or those driven by high costs at home.
To capitalise on this opportunity, Iskandar Investment Berhad created the Health & Wellness cluster within the new urban township of Iskandar called Medini. It is anchored by Gleneagles Medini Hospital on the health segment and Medini Integrated Wellness Capital (by Eastern & Oriental Berhad) on the wellness segment. So far, Iskandar has amassed a number of reputable international names such as Columbia Asia Hospital and Regency Specialist Hospital within the hub.
On the other hand, Malaysia’s own healthcare mammoth, the KPJ Healthcare Group was tasked to draw up a master plan to realise Iskandar Malaysia’s potential as a medical and healthcare hub in the region. Ever since then, it has been on a relentless mission to expand the rapidly growing medical tourism industry.
THE FANTASTIC FOUR
KPJ first gained a foothold Johor in 1981 with the opening of KPJ Johor Specialist Hospital on a 5-acre site off Jalan Abdul Samad. It was the first private hospital in Johor and remains the only JCI accredited hospital in Iskandar Malaysia until today. This was followed by the MSQH (Malaysian Society For Quality in Health) accredited Puteri Specialist Hospital (PSH), formerly known as Medical Centre (Johor) Sdn Bhd which started operations in 1986.
In 2014, the Pasir Gudang Specialist Hospital (PGSH) was built to ease the overcrowding problem as a result of population migration when Iskandar Malaysia was established. With the availability of modern equipments, cutting-edge technology and an excellent team of specialists, PGSH quickly became one of the leading regional private medical facilities and one of the healthcare providers that is expected to benefit from the government’s plans to turn Iskandar into a medical tourism hub.
The latest addition to the team will be the flagship hospital, the Bandar Dato’ Onn Specialist Hospital. Located within Iskandar’s new township, Bandar Dato’ Onn, the new hospital will be equipped with six Centre of Excellence (in the field of oncology, women and children, cosmetics and reconstruction, orthopaedic, cardiology and geriatrics) of international standards. Upon completion in 2017, a healthcare education institution will also be integrated with the hospital to cater to the growing demand for healthcare professionals in the country. The first phase will encompass about 280,000 sq ft with a bed capacity of 150.
BIG PLANS AHEAD
To capitalise on the promising growth of the medical tourism segment, KPJ is allocating about RM1.29 billion to build eight new hospitals nationwide. These new additions to the 26 hospitals currently in its stable are expected to be ready to serve a larger population between 2018 and 2019. By then, Malaysia would be ready to expand its reach beyond the existing Southeast Asian market and set our sights further afield.
This article was first published in the iProperty.com Malaysia September 2016 Magazine. Get your copy from selected news stands or view the magazine online for free at www.iproperty.com.my/magazine. Better yet, order a discounted subscription by putting in your details in the form below!