Medical tourism patients seek cancer treatment during RMCO


MOST of the incoming patients in the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO) period is for cancer treatment, says Malaysian Healthcare Tourism Council (MHTC).

MHTC CEO Sherene Azli (picture) said previously, most patients were coming for orthopaedic, oncology, cardiology, as well as in vitro fertilisation but since the implementation of MCO, the industry has to focus on a smaller, more urgent group.

“This is because during phase one of reopening the industry, we could only focus on complex cases where they require immediate treatment.

“This was only open to those who are willing to pay for the chartered flights because commercial flights are not allowed yet,” she told The Malaysian Reserve yesterday.

The second phase of the reopening of the medical tourism industry would see the entry from countries that are considered as safe zones from Covid-19 as the council wants to protect the safety of the locals, before entering the final phase of accepting patients via commercial flights.

The final phase is based on the reopening of Malaysian borders with other countries as well.

She added that during the MCO, the council had also aided in the facilitation of telemedicine.

“If some of our patients cannot receive medicines from where they are, they are provided with teleconsultation and telemedicine during this period.

“Our role in MHTC is to help with facilitating that delivery in cases where policies are involved. If we do not somehow aid in that, then the patients would feel neglected and we risk losing our international patients,” she said.

Sherene added that most of the patients come from Indonesia, India and China, but there are also arrivals from the UK, US and Australia.

“Regardless of their locations, the most unique model that we have here in Malaysia is that we have the public-private partnership and a council to manage the end-to-end services for patients that arrive,” she said.

Between 2015 and 2018, the healthcare travel revenue recorded RM4.8 billion, which is a significant increase of 82% from RM2.6 billion from 2011-2014.

By 2025, the healthcare travel revenue is projected to reach RM4.6 billion with a total economic impact of RM1.6 billion. MHTC attributed the drop from the 2018’s figure to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The council initiated the development of the Malaysia Healthcare Travel Industry Blueprint 2020-20025 in July 2019 to reach the target and adapt to the evolving landscape, as its long-term vision is to be a leading global healthcare destination.

According to MHTC’s report  “Malaysia Healthcare Chronicles 2009-2019”, the gaps that have been identified and require addressing are lack of awareness on the industry’s offering, the end-to-end patient experience and poor network and relationships.

Sherene said this is why the MHTC has been focusing on its branding and marketing throughout the MCO.

“Most of our branding amplification and strategies have been focused on digital and online to other countries, via our digitisation offerings at the moment, and we are strengthening our services in the seamless customer experience so that when the patients come in, we will be ready to catch all of them with open arms.

“It’s good that Malaysia is recognised for its international standards level of healthcare, but we also wanted to make sure that people know us during the MCO, because if we don’t amplify our brand and the industry, then we are at risk of being forgotten. We don’t want that,” she said.