Many people across the world are scared of doctors and hospitals not only due to surgical procedures but also due to heavy bills that follow such procedures! What if you could get your health treatment at a much cheaper cost and also enjoy a holiday with your family? The term which they use for such facility is "medical tourism". Medical tourism is catching up in countries where health treatments are available at much cheaper costs than in countries such as US and UK where even a simple health check up can be heavy on your pocket.|
Singapore is emerging as a medical tourism hub attracting medical tourists from various countries across the globe. If you chose Singapore for health care services, you are assured of high standards of care with latest infrastructure and that too at low cost. Singapore has an excellent English proficiency which means that you can freely and comfortably communicate with your doctor. Nine Singapore hospitals and two medical centers have received Joint Commission International (JCI) accreditation which accounts for one-third of all JCI-accredited facilities in Asia .
Medical Tourism, also referred to as Health Tourism or Medical Travel, is a term that was introduced by travel agencies to describe the travel plans of tourists who visited international countries for the purpose of obtaining healthcare. Introduced in Europe, the concept of medical tourism has now spread to every continent across the world, including Asia.
Singapore as the World’s Medical Tourism Hub
Tourism is one of the largest and fastest growing industries of Singapore. More than 10.2 million tourists visit this South East Asian country every year and contribute to the growing economy of Singapore. The Singapore government is promoting the country as the world’s best medical tourism hub. A survey conducted in the year 2011 has shown that more than 200,000 international citizens visit Singapore every year to receive medical care and avail medical services from the hospitals and clinics of the country. An estimate has projected that more than one million tourists will visit Singapore by the end of 2012 only to enjoy the medical facilities of the country. The total earnings of the Singapore government from medical tourism by the end of the current year is projected at 3 billion USD.
What makes Singapore a Popular Medical Tourism Hub?
There are several factors which work towards making Singapore one of the world’s most popular medical tourism hubs. Listed below are the important reasons:
- Singapore is home to several health centers and hospitals that enjoy the accreditation and certification of the Joint Commission International, a not – for – profit body that surveys the standards and quality of facilities in medical units across various countries of the world.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the healthcare facility of Singapore as the best in Asia and the sixth best in the world in the last published World Health Report.
- In the year 2000, only patients from neighboring Asian countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and China visited Singapore for medical purposes. From the year 2011, even international citizens from countries like the US and the UK are considering Singapore as a medical destination.
- While the standard of medical facilities in this Asian country is very high, the medical staff is adequately qualified, state of the art equipment is used and the healthcare center surroundings are clean and hygienic, the cost of treatment is fairly low and affordable by a larger number of people, when compared to that of other countries.
- The Women’s Heart Health Clinic, the first cardiology clinic of Asia catering to the treatment of only women, was launched in Singapore in the recent past. This medical facility was set up in recognition of the reality that more women than men in the Asia Pacific region lose their lives to cardiovascular diseases every year. This prevention and treatment center of Singapore has an all – women team of dieticians, cardiologists, physiotherapists and occupational therapists.
- The healthcare system of the Singapore government is planned well and based on a ‘3M’ framework. The Medifund is like a health loan for such sections of society who cannot afford expensive medication. Medisave is a health savings scheme that covers 85 percent of Singaporeans made compulsory by the government. Medishield is a health insurance policy provided by the government and is hence affordable.
- The Singapore government funds 32 percent of healthcare in the country. This has been especially done to introduce subsidized medical facility for the low income group.
- The World Health Organization report shows that life expectancy in Singapore is the 15th best in the world. The country has the lowest infant mortality rate of the world and an average of only ten people die every year from HIV and AIDS. Adult obesity rate in the country is also as low as 10 % of total population.
- For patients who are not comfortable with allopathic treatment, there are provisions of alternative medicine such as acupuncture and herbal treatments. Alternative medicine centers are open throughout the year for residents and visitors. They are also less expensive when compared to traditional medical facilities.
- Health clubs and health spas are an integral part of Singapore medical tourism hub. Also known as wellness centers, the spas double up as hotels for tourists who want to enjoy a spa holiday. A tourist or resident can take an advance booking or avail on – the – spot treatments in health clubs. The most popular treatments are hydrotherapy, hot stone massage and aromatherapy.
- Cosmetic surgery is another chief area of medical tourism in Singapore. Laser treatment clinics that provide hair removal sessions, skin treatments and breast surgeries are popular worldwide. Liposuction and rhinoplasty are also rampantly availed by visitors from other countries.
- Singapore’s favorable government plans promote medical tourism, thereby drawing visitors from all across the globe. The healthcare system by the Singaporean government is based on “3M framework”, referring to Medifund, Medisave and Medishield healthcare plans for its residents and working Singaporeans. The Medifund is aimed to assist the low income section of the society with medical treatments. Medisave is a savings plan that covers 85 per cent of the working Singaporeans and is a plan made mandatory by the government. The Medishield, government’s medical health policy is quite affordable. All these plans help the government alone to fund 32 per cent of the healthcare in the country, thereby creating a strong sense of medical awareness.
- Strong concentration of medical expertise in various areas was another plus point behind the nation’s booming medical sector. Many medical professionals and healthcare companies, with headquarters in Singapore, helped in training and sharing their expertise and even helped to conduct health care research, training and events. As a result, international visitors flocked to the nation to avail a wide array of medical facilities ranging from basic screening to more specialized services and surgical procedures. Other than conventional allopathic treatments, alternate medicine like acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine and herbal treatments are also popular in here.
- Singapore’s friendly healthcare eco-system also offers peace of mind to the patients. The unwavering dedication towards the well being of patients’ and sometimes their families is striking. Apart from providing hands-on support to the patients during the time of crisis, a few concierge services are also seen to be provided. These are assistance with lodging, airline reservation, transportation, local tours and even translation services. It includes the hospital-to-hospital ambulance services to patients with critical status.
- The accreditations that mark the Singaporean healthcare system are a huge accomplishment. Although medical care is more expensive than India and Thailand, still patients gather in Singapore for treatment owing to its phenomenal record of quality standards. Joint commission international has accredited 15 hospitals and medical centers in Singapore. World class medical infrastructure, cleanliness, medically expert and an English speaking staff stand justify the accreditations.
Singapore Dental Tourism
Singapore is also home to some of the best dental clinics of Asia. Teeth whitening, regular check ups, dental implants and other complex dental surgeries are part of the dental tourism program of Singapore. Unlike other medical treatments, dental tourism is not very cheap in Singapore. It is more expensive than the dental treatments provided by neighboring countries India and Thailand. But they are more developed and affordable when compared with the western world, thus encouraging people from the West to travel to Singapore to take a dentist’s appointment.
Treatment Cost in Singapore
1. Cost of Coronary Angiography - USD 1,500
2. Cost of Coronary Angioplasty - USD 11,500
3. Cost of Hip Replacement - USD 16,000
4. Cost of ?Coronary Artery Bypass - USD 13,000
5. Cost of Face Lift - USD 7,000
6. Cost of Root canal Treatment - USD 20,000 (approximately)
In 2011, tourism receipts from medical travelers touched $940 million, increasing by $200 million from the year before.
During 2011, the nation witnessed some 8000 patients, out of which 90 percent were foreigners alone. This estimate was made by the confederation of India and the Mckinsey Company. They further stated that the most popular treatment generating substantial revenue in the sector was cosmetic surgery and it has witnessed a phenomenal growth over a ten year period.
On the back of the statistical records and the various feats in terms of accreditations, World health organization too has ranked Singapore 6th in the world for it world class medical care, in 2010. The environment is proposed to be fairly conducive for a patients’ recovery. A WHO report of high life expectancy in Singapore is just evidence to it. The nation is ranked 15th in the world for the same.
Based on the statistics, Singapore government is optimistic and ensures that the country will attract more revenues from medical tourism in the forthcoming year.
Best Hospitals of Singapore
Listed below are the names of the most popular hospitals of Singapore in terms of the number of patients admitted each year:
Alexandra Hospital – this hospital started operations in the year 1938. It was the most well maintained and modern hospital of Singapore during the 1970s.
Changi General Hospital – the Toa Payoh Hospital and the Changi Hospital came together to form the Changi General Hospital in the year 1998. Today it is one of the largest medical facilities of Singapore.
National University Hospital – it is the teaching hospital for the National University of Singapore. This is also a research center for specific health areas like hepatology, gastroenterology and ophthalmology.
National Cancer Centre Singapore – it specializes in the prevention and treatment of stomach, pancreas, breast, head, lung, liver, neck and lymphomas cancers.
Raffles Hospital Singapore – this private hospital of the country was established by the Raffles Medical Group. There are 16 specialist centers and 35 disciplines of health dealt with within the hospital campus.
Comparative cost analysis
|Procedure ||US Cost||Singapore Cost|
|Dental Treatment (Root Canal)
|Heart Bypass ||130,000$||18,500$|
|Heart valve replacement ||160,000$||12,500$|
|Hip Replacement ||43,000$||12,000$|
|Knee Replacement ||40,000$||13,000$|
|LASIK Eye surgery ||2341$||1700$|
|Spinal fusion ||62,000$||9,000$|
|Stem cell transplant ||235,000$||72,000$-90,000$|
Health care services in Singapore
If you are planning a visit to Singapore for medical purpose, this piece of information might be useful to you. Many hospitals in Singapore offer dedicated service centers that provide a comprehensive range of services to patients from overseas and their family members. The amicable and trained customer service officers help patients with arrangements for appointments and referrals to the appropriate specialists, hospital admission, follow-up care and transportation. Services such as interpreters, travel and visa arrangements, as well as currency exchange, are also available.
Health care services in which Singapore holds specialty include Heart Valve Defect, Percutaneous Trans luminal Angioplasty, Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting Surgery, Liver Cancer, Cancer in the Head & Neck, Stem Cell Transplant for Ocular Surface Disease, Hearing Loss, Knee Pain, Urinary Stones and Prostate Cancer.
Premiere heath care centers in Singapore
||378 Alexandra Road Singapore 159964
|East Shore Hospital
||321 Joo Chiat Place
||6A Napier Road, Singapore 258500
|Kk Women's & Children's Hospital
||100 Bukit Timah Road Singapore 229899
|Mount Alvernia Hospital
||820 Thomson Road (opposite MacRitchie Reservoir), Singapore 574623
|Mount Elizabeth Hospital Ltd
||3 Mount Elizabeth
||585 North Bridge Road, Singapore 188770
|Thomson Medical Centre
||339 Thomson Road, Singapore 307677
|Woodbridge Hospital/Institute Of Mental Health
||10 Buangkok View Singapore 539747
Last Updated On: 29th Nov 2012