A stronger return for the medical tourism sector in Malaysia after the pandemic
Medical tourism, an industry that relies heavily on international travel, has certainly been hit hard by Covid-19. But experts still believe the industry will come back bigger – and most importantly, better – after the pandemic.
Harnessing this growth, however, would force hospitals and medical tourism providers to rethink their strategies.
READ ALSO : Time to focus on Malaysian healthcare travelers amid pandemic
Malaysia Tourism Educators Association President Dr Mohd Raziff Jamaluddin said a crucial point is creating health tourism packages that complement post-pandemic travel behavior.
“The essential step is to create an attractive package that is affordable for a larger segment of the market. So far, the medical package has covered medical screening, treatment, accommodation, transportation, and recreational activities.
“The previous package is attractive, but with so many people affected by Covid-19, now is a good time to expand to middle-income groups, especially those in Europe and the Middle East, who can afford products due to currency conversion rates. », Explains Mohd Raziff.
That being said, KPJ President and CEO Ahmad Shahizam Mohd Shariff believes the pandemic has given the medical tourism sector a chance to improve.
“Many countries are currently developing measures to build a more resilient medical tourism industry after Covid-19. These include preparing plans to support the sustainable recovery of the industry, promoting digital transitions and moving towards a greener tourism system, as well as rethinking tourism for the future.
“Rebuilding the tourism industry is a priority, but the sector needs to become more sustainable and resilient in the future,” he says.
As part of measures to improve the sector, Ahmad Shahizam says medical tourism providers should provide clear information to healthcare travelers by limiting uncertainties as much as possible.
“Even during the Covid-19 pandemic, our international patient center continues to provide additional services to our patients and international partners. This includes teleconsultation services to our existing patients, webinars and medical delivery services.
“All of this is to ensure that hospitals stay connected to our patients and partners while waiting for some form of normalcy to resume,” says Ahmad Shahizam.
Meanwhile, the Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC) predicts that the industry will have to go through some initial bumps, after the pandemic.
“The global severity of Covid-19 has posed several challenges for the healthcare travel industry, especially now that we are going through a pandemic. We expect healthcare destinations overall to be greeted with more reluctance as patients seek alternative treatment plans, ”said MHTC Director General Mohd Daud Mohd Arif.
The recovery of the medical tourism sector in Malaysia, according to Mohd Daud, will depend on several factors. These include the rollout of national and global vaccines, the easing of restrictions and closures of interstate and international borders, as well as a return of confidence for tourists to resume travel.
“The MHTC continues to work with public-private stakeholders within the healthcare travel industry. However, our top priority is to focus on the safety and well-being of our nation, ensuring our population is immunized to achieve collective immunity and curb the spread of the virus, ”he said.
Mohd Daud is optimistic, however, that medical tourism providers in Malaysia will be able to get through this difficult time.
“We remain optimistic about the rebound in healthcare in Malaysia thanks to the reputation we have carefully built over the past 10 years and our value propositions of world-class quality, ease of access and affordability for health treatments, ”he adds.
When the medical tourism sector recovers, the MHTC estimates that the industry could contribute up to RM 10 billion to the economy by 2025.
“As such, it’s critical that we stay ‘top of the list’ for healthcare travelers when it comes to our position as the world’s health wonder,” says Mohd Daud.
On the MHTC side, the agency will provide patient support and improve end-to-end infrastructure, including digital adoption, as part of its efforts to help the sector recover.
While the agency hopes to fully welcome international health care travelers again, the MHTC stresses that the well-being of Malaysians would be a top priority.
“As we reach post-pandemic normality, we anticipate that some adjustments will be made in the sphere for healthcare providers. This must be done while continuing to ensure that the safety and well-being of Malaysians is not compromised, ”said Mohd Daud.