Medical tourism services in HCMC have yet to fully match potential despite an increasingly huge number of foreign tourists to the city for medical and examination treatment, heard a seminar on the development of the city’s medical tourism last Friday.
Representatives of HCMC’s tourism and health departments exchange signed documents of a cooperation agreement on medical tourism services development on Friday
Although the number of foreigners coming to HCMC for medical and examination treatment accounts for a small proportion of the total, the market has great potential for growth, according to data of the HCMC Health Department.
In particular, around 40,000 international patients, especially from the United States, Australia, South Korea, Japan, Russia, and Cambodia visit Cho Ray Hospital, the University Medical Center of HCMC, and FV Hospital among others on an annual basis.
Representatives of some hospitals at the seminar said the quality of their medical services, especially dentistry, plastic surgery and cardiology can compete well with their counterparts in regional countries. Notably, acupuncture, together with traditional medicine, is of high quality worldwide.
Medical care costs are merely higher than those in India, but much lower than other neighboring countries. For example, the cost of heart surgery in HCMC is only one-third of that in Thailand. Therefore, many local hospitals have shown keen interest in developing medical tourism services.
Huynh Nguyen Loc, director of the Traditional Medicine Institute of HCMC, said his institute has two medical tourism products attracting thousands of people from the U.S. and Europe. However, these services are all organized by foreign companies despite growing demand.
“Some international firms have sold our product packages at a price of up to US$10,000 for foreigners to come for medical study at our institute (within a month) to get practicing certificates. These packages include some tourism programs. They are willing to pay high costs, but domestic tourism operators have yet to show their interest,” he said.
The number of foreign patients, especially those from developed nations in Europe, receiving medical treatment from the University Medical Center of HCMC has been on the steep rise in recent years. The center offered its services to around 22,000 foreign people last year, according to Vu Tri Thanh, head of its general planning department.
“Our facilities have been better equipped, and our services at competitive prices have been in line with other hospitals in the region, so medical tourism services can develop. However, our domestic healthcare and tourism sectors have not yet formed any link,” he said, adding the center is about to launch two more clinics for foreigners.
Some representatives also suggested the local tourism should pay more attention to services for domestic customers, especially those from other localities to the city for medical examination and treatment services.
Meanwhile, some tourism firms said it would be very difficult to organize examination and treatment, or plastic surgery tours like South Korea and Singapore do. However, some patients also have the demand for combining tourism with dental checkups or some traditional medicine services.
“Medical facilities should identify their potential customers. If they want to lure tourists from a certain country, they should get (tourism) certificates from that country. This will help create peace of mind for these tourists to enjoy their services,” said Phan Dinh Hue, director of Viet Circle Travel and Service Company Limited.
As part of the seminar, the Department of Tourism signed an agreement with the Department of Health for cooperation in medical tourism development. The two departments initially will focus on such services as general medical checkups, diagnosis for heart and cancer diseases, dental services, and traditional medical services.
Medical clinics in the city wanting to be included in the municipal medical tourism map should contact the Health Department for appraisal, and the list will be given to the Tourism Department for inclusion.
Via : Sapa Luxury Travel