Does Malaysia Healthcare have what it takes?

Sherene Azli, CEO Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC)

Firstly, we focus on creating awareness of Malaysia Healthcare’s world-class quality, accessible and affordable service offerings through our branding campaigns and marketing initiatives both locally and internationally,” explained Sherene Azli, CEO of the Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC).

1. What are the major initiatives required to become a Number One Global Medical Travel Destination?

“Firstly, we focus on creating awareness of Malaysia Healthcare’s world-class quality, accessible and affordable service offerings through our branding campaigns and marketing initiatives both locally and internationally,” explained Sherene Azli, CEO of the Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC). Malaysia is also known as a global Halal hub, a travel haven and a destination with ease of communication. She further explained that building strategic engagements such as G2G, G2B and B2B partnerships are also instrumental in advancing the healthcare travel industry.

Trust has always been a factor of that kept the engine of Malaysia’s healthcare travel industry running. Our initiatives have always focussed on building this aspect to promote sustainable industry growth and reducing risks.”

In order to reduce risks faced by healthcare travellers, one of the initiatives set-up by Malaysia Healthcare is a meet-andgreet service. “Registered healthcare travellers will be greeted at the point of disembarkation and escorted to customs and immigration via a fast-tracked lane. They will then be hosted at our exclusive lounge to wait for their transportation to their accommodation or hospital,” said Sherene as she explained the mechanism of the Malaysia Healthcare Lounge and concierge services.

2. How do you see the future of Medical Travel industry evolving over the next 10 years?

“Medical travel, though not a new tradition, will continue to see growth with the rise in ageing populations, spending power and more affordable and accessible options for healthcare services abroad,” Sherene commented. She also added that the healthcare industry will further integrate with new digital offerings that can expedite processes in receiving treatments.”

“The global landscape for medical travel is highly unpredictable and constantly changing. We are continuously strengthening the foundation of our whole end-toend system to ensure that the delivery of affordable and accessible world-class quality care is maintained and can with stand any challenges ahead,” explained Sherene. She added “With the constant changes in the market, the healthcare travel industry is always on the lookout for opportunities to expand into new markets to ensure sustainable growth.”

3. Can you please explain the aspects you have been focusing on to enhance the standards of healthcare travel industry?

“Prioritising the patient journey experience is key in building a leading global destination for healthcare,” said Sherene. She explained that Malaysia Healthcare has curated a seamless end-to-end system which cares for patients’ needs from the point of enquiry, to arrival, all through receiving treatment right up to post-care. Several facilities have been established to facilitate the healthcare traveller’s journey. One of which is a dedicated Call Centre which facilitates all queries of healthcare travel in Malaysia.

“We have also seen an escalation in the standards of the industry through increased private-public partnerships, particularly between ministries and private sectors in the country,” she added. “We have also been encouraging healthcare providers to prioritise outcome and evidencebased reporting which can improve overall quality of patient outcomes.”

4. Please highlight some scenarios where Malaysia’s Medical Travel Industry has attained desired results?

“Malaysia’s healthcare travel industry is now growing at an average rate of 16-17% every year, making it one of the fastest growing industry for export services. In 2018, Malaysia was sought for treatment by more than 1,000,000 healthcare travellers and we achieved the target RM1.3 billion in hospital revenues,” Sherene explained. She added, “Alongside these achievements, our reputation also precedes us through the awards and accolades received. Gaining acknowledgement on the international landscape for healthcare travel, Malaysia was recognised as the “Destination of the Year” by International Medical Travel Journal (IMTJ), United Kingdom for three years in a row between 2015 to 2017. This year, we received a highlight commended acknowledgement as the “Destination of the Year”. Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council also won “Cluster of the Year” in 2017 and 2018 by IMTJ, an additional mark of approval for Malaysia’s excellent healthcare travel facilitation. US-based International Living also acknowledged Malaysia as the country with the “Best Country in the World for Healthcare” based on their Global Retirement Index from 2015 to 2017. Recently, in their 2018 Index, Malaysia was listed as the top Asian country for retirement, ranking fifth globally after Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama, and Ecuador.”

5. In what ways do you push Malaysia Healthcare as a game changer in the healthcare travel industry?

“As Malaysia Healthcare matures in the industry, the need to carve a niche identity for the Malaysia Healthcare brand becomes more prominent,” began Sherene. She went on to explain that Malaysia is being positioned as the Fertility and Cardio hub of Malaysia. “Anchoring on our strengths in these niche specialties and capacity to cater to growing demands, this unique identity for Malaysia solidifies our position further in the global healthcare travel landscape. As the aspiring Asian hub for Fertility, Malaysia Healthcare will be Giving Hope to Dreams of infertile couples aspiring to one day enjoy parenthood. Equipped with the latest technologies to provide a wide range of treatments at affordable prices, Malaysia’s fertility facilities are prepared to support couples in starting a new chapter in life. Our Cardio Hub, deemed the Heartbeat of Asia, boasts of a successful collaborative history between the Ministry of Health and the National Heart Association of Malaysia. As a result, we have reached new heights in  technological conquests and successes in complex surgeries, attracting many to our shores and keeping them returning to receive satisfactory heart care.”

6. How do you ensure a seamless end-toend experience is provided to healthcare travellers?

“It helps to get a solid backing from the government. Our healthcare system has been regulated by the Ministry of Health, Malaysia from day one. Through this system, the quality of our medical professionals is monitored, ceiling rates for healthcare treatments are maintained and healthcare services are kept accessible for everyone who needs it.”

She added, “All in all, the creation of a well thought out end-to-end health journey experience requires a concerted effort from industry players throughout the healthcare travel value chain. This includes strategic integration between airlines, in-bound travel agencies, hospitals and accommodation providers to present the best care and services reflective of Malaysia Healthcare’s abilities and potential.”

7. Any views on the next wave of convergence in Global Medical Travel and any steps to consider in going beyond in Medical Travel?

“As the market for medical travel continues to develop, Malaysia has strengthened its medical travel offering to preventive care. The holistic care available in Malaysia gives healthcare travellers the opportunity to combine their treatments with alternative recovery packages,” said Sherene.

“The range of wellness treatments available in Malaysia offers wellness tourists a host of alternative medicine and treatments such as Yoga, Ayurveda, and Traditional Complementary Eastern Medicine, Detoxification, Mental Health Retreats and Anti-Ageing treatments,” she added.

Sherene also explained that Malaysia’s growth in medical travel will be linked to more infrastructural development, an expansion of serviceable cities, investment in human resource and advanced international patient training, quality standardisation, and enhance marketing to international markets on Malaysia’s vast benefits.

8. How do you think Malaysia Healthcare Travel has shaped up so far and what do you think will be the future trends?

“Malaysia’s medical travel industry has been performing well so far. That being said, we refuse to rest on our laurels, but continue to drive the industry forward by addressing gaps within the industry and keeping abreast on disruptions in the overall global economy, particularly in the digital world,” said Sherene. She further explained that, “We believe that big data will play a huge role in making decisions to further the industry within sustainable parameters. This will enable us to optimise our resources and talents carefully and strategically.”

Sherene further commented that blockchain technology is already playing a large role within the global industry. “The medical travel industry would progress towards that direction, which would streamline further the entire end-to-end patient journey experience. In the future, we foresee that artificial intelligence (AI) would be a very instrumental tool in complex surgeries where patients from countries with scare talent can have access to medical attention by foreign doctors without leaving their homeland, for example.”

About The Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council

The Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council or better known as MHTC is an agency established by the Malaysian government that has been entrusted with the responsibility of curating the country’s healthcare travel scene. Founded in 2009 under the Ministry of Health, MHTC facilitates and grows the healthcare travel industry with the intended goal of making Malaysia the leading global healthcare destination. Since then, MHTC has worked to streamline industry players and service providers into a more focused development strategy and to raise Malaysia’s profile in healthcare travel on an international stage. It is an example of a successful model of public-private partnerships (PPP) in growing the healthcare travel sector in Malaysia.

Contact Information:

Malaysia Healthcare Call Centre
Mon – Fri from 8AM - 5PM (+8 GMT)
Outside Malaysi : +603 272 68 688
Within Malaysia : 1 800 188 688

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--Issue 41--

Author Bio

Sherene Azli

Sherene Azli, CEO Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC)

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