Medical Tourism Archives

Hospital Rooms of the Future

Imagine a hospital stay with no blood pressure cuffs, thermometers, or medical chart clip boards. Imagine robot surgeons, artificial wombs, and a single device that can collect and store all of your medical information. Add a machine that print viable organ tissue and you have yourself an episode of Star Trek.

It may all sound like it’s straight out of the movies, but science fiction is well on its way to becoming science reality. Huge leaps in medical science are made every day, and research into making the artificial womb and even hand-held sonogram devices is already well under way. Prototypes of room-wide control systems are already in use, and the military is actually hoping to develop their version of a Star Trek tricorder to take and compare medical records.

Keep an eye out and an ear open for news of these incredible advancements. Who knows? Maybe one day, the TVs will even work consistently.

From: Top Masters in Healthcare

The rooms of hospitals in the new world

Futuristic Rooms of Hospital

Medical tourists who are going to South Asian countries for cheaper medical treatment risk picking up and spreading a new superbug.

This gene, known as New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase, or NDM-1, was found in patients in Britain, who may have contacted it while receiving treatment in countries such as India and Pakistan.

The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal published a report this week claiming that researchers found this new gene to be common in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

NDM-1 is highly resistant to almost all antibiotics, including the most powerful class called carbapenems.

With increasing popularity of medical tourism, the scientists said they feared this new superbug could soon spread around the world.

Prof Timothy Walsh who led the research team, examined bacteria samples from hospital patients in Chennai and Haryana and also from patients referred to Britain’s national reference laboratory between 2007 and last year. They found 44 cases of NDM-1-positive bacteria in Chennai, 26 in Haryana, 37 in Britain, and 73 in other sites in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan.

Many of the infected British patients had travelled to these countries for different medical treatments, including cosmetic surgery, kidney or bone marrow transplants, dialysis, pregnancy care or burns treatment.

Reaction from the medical industry in India was expectedly strong.

The medical tourism industry in India has called this negative report an attempt to discredit a business that earned the country an estimated 20 billion rupees (US$423 million) last year.

Dr Yatin Mehta at Medanta, one of India’s best hospitals, dismissed these reports and claimed the hygiene standards in India’s hospitals are better than those of the National Health Service in Britain.

‘Multi-drug resistance can be found anywhere in the world,’ said Dr V.M. Katoch, Secretary for Health Research who also chairs the Indian Council of Medical Research. ‘It is unfair to blame India for that.’

This act of naming Superbug after New Delhi, while none of the samples collected was from Delhi and its presence in UK itself indigenously, appears a ‘Racially’ and commercially motivated act to malign Indian Medical tourism sector.” said Dr K M Kapoor, Senior Consultant, Cosmetic Surgery at Fortis Hospital, Mohali and a Medical Tourism exponent in India.

Looks like this “fingers pointing” will continue for a while.

Richard Ryckoff, a retired American living in Phuket, is enjoying life in the Thai resort. He spends his time doing his favorite pastime, cycling and reading. Then recently he felt breathless even when not exercising.

He consulted a cardiologist and the initial prognosis wasn’t positive. He got in touch with my American partner Planet Hospital and within a week he was in Singapore for medical treatment.

He went through a number of tests at the National University Hospital under the supervision of A/Prof Theo Kofidis, a specialist in minimally invasive surgery for heart valve. Richard was told he may need a mitral heart valve replacement but luckily Prof Kofidis managed to repair his valve without replacement.

After staying at the ICU for 3 days and another week at the normal ward, Richard was discharged and went home to Phuket today.

prof-kofidis-examining-richard1 me-prof-kofidis-and-richard

Prof Kofidis examining Richard                     Myself, Prof Kofidis and Richard

before discharge from hospital

Medical Tourism Market Report 2009

The high-growth medical tourism industry is estimated at US$100 billion by the year 2012. This is propelled by globalization and the increasing healthcare costs in developed countries, including USA. By then 500,000 Americans are expected to travel abroad for healthcare. These millions of medical tourists will travel to more than 30 countries in Asia, Eastern Europe, Central America and Africa.

In Asia the most popular destinations are Singapore, India, Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines. Thailand is reputable for cosmetic surgery especially medical tourists from Western Europe. Singapore attracts mainly medical tourists seeking for more complex procedures and world-class healthcare facilities and quality. India is another option and has a lower cost advantage.

The numbers of medical travelers to Singapore has declined because of the economic downturn. The sharpest decline is from Indonesia but this is compensated by more patients arriving from the Middle-East, Vietnam and Russia. The private hospitals are affected most and may continue to see declining medical tourists. Other countries offering medical services are also getting fewer patients.

The medical tourism industry in Thailand is still robust and is a very popular destination for tourists in general. Its medical costs are lower than Singapore and about one-fifth the cost of USA.

Malaysia is fast catching up with its neighbours and the government is promoting medical tourism aggressively. Among other measures, it has extended the visa period for medical tourists to 6 months from just one month. It is now attracting more medical tourists from Vietnam and Cambodia.

India is one of the first few countries in Asia to promote medical tourism and remain a sought-after destination for low cost and high quality healthcare services. Its cardiovascular and orthopaedic procedures are about one-tenth the cost of similar surgeries in the US.

Taiwan offers high quality and competitively priced healthcare services but is not as aggressive in promoting it. Its main target market is China, which makes sense as its culture and language are similar.

Korea has set a target of 100,000 international patients by 2012 and is actively promoting it as a medical tourism destination.

Which Asian country will lead in this fast growing medical tourism industry will depend not just on cost, quality and reputation. Other factors include ease of travel, communication, infrastructure, and the people that will make it a complete package.

Singapore Health Partners Mediplex

Singapore Health Partners Mediplex

One of the things I worry about when a foreign patient comes to town is accommodation.

Singapore offers a wide variety of accommodation types to suit different budgets, needs and preferences. These range from budget and boutique hotels, to 6 stars hotels and fully furnished serviced apartments in good locations.

Despite these choices, it is sometimes a challenge to find the right combination that pleases a fussy patient.

However this problem may be alleviated when a new integrated hospital complex is scheduled for completion towards the end of 2010.

This 19 storey Mediplex comprises a medical centre with specialist suites, hospital, and a hotel. This concept is believed to be the first in Asia and the objective is to capture a big slice of the estimated S$100 billion medical tourism market.

The medical centre has 189 consultation suites to house a wide spectrum of medical specialists. The hospital next door has 11 operating theatres, three day surgery units with 60 attached beds, an intensive care unit with 23 beds, radiotherapy unit, clinical laboratories and a full-service pharmacy.

Connected to the hospital is the hotel and guests have a choice of standard hotel rooms, serviced apartments and villas. All accommodations feature large bathrooms with rain showers, bay windows presenting floor to ceiling view.

The hotel is designed to offer a lush tropical garden ambience, with large spas, gymnasiums, six pools, ballroom, banquet hall, seminar and conference rooms, and a floor dedicated to retail food and beverage outlets.

A patient can check into the hotel in the morning and walks over to the medical centre to consult the doctor. Then he goes for lunch in one of the many restaurants and proceed to do some investigative tests in the afternoon. He returns to the hotel a few steps away, do some window shopping in the evening follow by a good massage in the spa. The next day he goes to the hospital next door for surgery and returns to the hotel to recuperate. All these activities are done in the same medical complex without leaving the building.

Family members and companions can stay in the same hotel, and enjoy the comfort and convenience of world-class facilities and at the same time provide emotional and physical support to the patient. This is healthcare and wellness at its best.

I am eagerly looking forward to the pleasure of showing this new integrated medical complex to my next patient.