9 Things We Learned from InsigHT2017: A Convergence of Voices on Medical Travel

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Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC), also known as Malaysia Healthcare, launched InsigHT2017 on 26 September 2017; a conference that brought together the medical travel and healthcare industry’s top players and practitioners to discuss and evaluate the latest challenges, trends, and general outlook impacting the industry.

The annual conference, held for the second year at Connexion @ The Vertical, Bangsar South, featured two full days of in-depth expert discussions and presentations of relevant case studies in order to drive and promote overall medical travel.

Here is a list of 9 things we learned from the highly anticipated and empowering conference.

#1 Health tourism sector to generate RM 1.5 billion in revenue next year

During the two day event, Malaysia’s Health Minister, Dr. S. Subramaniam said that the government expects the health tourism sector to generate RM 1.5 billion in revenue next year.

“Our government recognizes that we have great potential in medical travel and a concerted effort has been put in place to promote our country as a preferred medical travel destination. Taking into consideration global trends and of our domestic capacity, under our NKEA, one of the main focuses is bringing both the public and private sectors into collaboration, therefore creating the right foundation in our healthcare system,” he adds.

Datuk Seri Dr. S. Subramaniam, Minister of Health Malaysia is pictured delivering the keynote address.

#2 Valuable insights from industry experts

InsigHT2017 was a playground of key leaders in the healthcare and travel industry.

The conference boasted distinguished industry panelists and speakers from various countries such as:

From Malaysia –

CEO of MHTC, Sherene Azli, President of the Association of Private Hospitals of Malaysia (APHM), Dato’ Dr. Jacob Thomas, and Project Consultant TEHealthcare Asia, Anwar Anis

From United Kingdom –

Managing Editor of International Medical Travel Journal (IMTJ), Keith Pollard

From China –

CEO of TransformHealth Asia, Dr. HM Goh

From Singapore –

Strategic Planning Director of Ogilvy Commonhealth, Lexi Fletcher and CEO of Global Health & Travel, Varun Panjwani.

#3 A broad summary of topics were covered

InsigHT 2017 covered a broad spectrum of topics such as Global Outlook on Medical Travel, APAC Medical Travel Outlook, India’s Outbound Medical Travel Opportunities, Disrupting Healthcare Services, Harnessing the Digital Content, all of which were covered in a variety of formats – from inspiring keynotes and general sessions to exciting and interactive panel discussions.

The conference also provided valuable networking opportunities for attendees to meet, learn, and get inspired by the top industry leaders and practitioners.

#4 The potentiality of the worldwide medical travel market in numbers

Citing Reuters, CEO of MHTC, Sherene Azli in her keynote address stated that the worldwide medical travel market was worth USD 19.7 billion in 2016 and estimated to be growing at a CAGR of 18.8%, to reach USD 46.6 billion by 2021.

The driving factors behind the boom in the medical travel market are attributed to the ageing world population that is becoming more affluent thus surpassing the availability of quality healthcare resources.

In addition, out-of-pocket medical costs of critical and elective procedures continue to rise, while nations offering universal care are faced with ever increasing resource burdens.

According to Sherene, high treatment costs and long waiting times for medical procedures, advancements in technology, and developments of the market are the major factors driving the growth of the market.

However, stringent documentation forms, issues related to visa endorsement, and limited protection scope are restraining the growth of the market.

Acknowledging that developing countries are both competing against each other in coming up with state of the art medical technology and facilities thus fueling the market growth, Sherene invited attendees to ponder upon leveraging on these opportunities.

Sherene Azli, Chief Executive Officer of MHTC during her welcoming speech at InsigHt 2017.

#5 Addressing the need to restructure the national health care financing and health care delivery system

The changes in health policy, priorities and planning for the country are guided by the country’s development policies, objectives and the challenges of Vision 2020, Vision of Health and the goals of the health system in ensuring universal access, improving equity and efficiency and the quality of life of the population.

In order for Malaysia to rise up to the challenges, reformations in the national health care financing and health care delivery system are crucial to speed growth.

#6 Increased opportunities for job seekers

With the continued growth of the industry and mounting consumer demand for international healthcare solutions, career opportunities will substantially increase over the next 10 years in clinical settings, hotels, medical travel facilitators, marketing departments, travel agents and educational institutions.

It is also estimated that more career prospects will emerge in the public and private sectors such as in the area of tourism, law and finances.

#7 Malaysia Healthcare’s unique selling propositions

Malaysia Healthcare’s unique selling propositions (USPs), Quality, Accessibility and Affordability supported by Ease of Communication, leading Global Halal Hub and a seamless End-to-end patient service is recognised worldwide and propelling Malaysia to the forefront of the healthcare industry as the destination of choice.

#8 Malaysia is doing great as a Healthcare and Travel destination!

Malaysia has been recognised for three years in a row as “Health and Medical Tourism: Destination of the Year” from 2015-2017. Malaysia was also acknowledged as the country with the “Best Healthcare System in the World”, also for three consecutive years (2015-2017).

International Living placed Malaysia at the top of a list of “Four Countries with the Best Healthcare in the World”, ahead of Costa Rice, Colombia and Mexico, which are second, third and fourth respectively.

For 2016, more than 921,000 healthcare travellers received medical treatment in Malaysia, recording a growth of 23% in hospital revenues compared to 2015.

Malaysia Healthcare aims to achieve a target revenue of RM1.3 billion for 2017.

#9 Announcement of the soon to be tabled Pharmacy Bill

Dr. S. Subramaniam said that the Pharmacy Bill will soon be tabled in Parliament. The Bill has been a hot topic of late especially with regards to the right to dispense medication.

“We feel the current system should be allowed to continue, while liberalising it a bit, so that it will give patients more choices in getting medicines,” revealed Dr. S. Subramaniam during the press conference.

The ministry is currently awaiting approval from the Attorney-General’s Chambers before the bill could be tabled.