Malaysia’s high-quality medical services have made the country a popular medical tourism destination for people from around the world. Though this has not been the case recently due to pandemic travel restrictions, it is widely believed that the country will once again return as a favoured medical destination for people from across Asia and the rest of the world.
World-class medical services at a reasonable price
Malaysia has an internationally-recognised high standard of healthcare. In the ranking of the world’s best medical countries published by International Life in the USA, Malaysia ranked first and has won this honour for several consecutive years. Its medical system is diverse, combining a mix of public, government-run hospitals, private hospitals controlled by large consortia, and charitable medical institutions. These services coexist to meet the medical needs of people from all sections of society and those who come for ‘Health Tourism’.
Healthcare in Malaysia is comparable to Europe and the USA, with similar standards in everything from the equipment available in hospitals to the professional level of doctors and clinical teams. These high standards combine with sunny beaches, beautiful scenery and authentic food to make Malaysia a fine choice for both holidaying and health care. In 2019 alone, the number of visitors to Malaysia for medical tourism reached in excess of 1.2 million.
The high levels of medical tourism are a result of medical services that are more mature, reliable and comprehensive than many Asian countries and are available at a reasonable cost. Medical services in Malaysia cost, on average, 50-75% less than in Singapore and the USA.
Comprehensive medical systems, advanced medical information sharing
Government-funded medical institutions with advanced facilities and multiple departments play a leading role in all levels of Malaysia’s medical system. However, from time to time treatment through these services can suffer from extended waiting times due to the high number of patients they care for. The private system therefore exists as a useful supplement to public medical care. This well-established private network consists of leading tertiary hospitals, specialist centres for specific diseases, and private clinics.
Malaysia’s private healthcare system currently includes 214 private hospitals and more than 7,000 private clinics run by a large network of different providers. The three biggest medical groups in the country are IHH Healthcare, Sunway Healthcare Group and KPJ Medical Group. They have a network of hospitals and clinics throughout Malaysia and are leaders in high-quality medical services; IHH has more than 80 large hospitals; Sunway Medical Centre, as an ACHS (Australian Council of Healthcare Standard)-certified hospital, provides excellent and high-quality medical services for both Malaysians and international patients alike; and KPJ, the largest private provider, receives an average of 2.6 million patients every year in their hospitals and clinics across Malaysia.
One thing these three providers have in common is their desire to implement high-quality Electronic Medical Record (EMR) systems. IHH is allocating an estimated USD $100 million to develop its digital healthcare capabilities in the next three years. This will include replacing multiple existing systems and using artificial intelligence and data analysis to enhance medical diagnostics and nursing capabilities. KPJ recently stated that it will conduct an open tender to upgrade its medical information system, replacing a 20-year in-house version, and is in the process of purchasing systems from both Malaysian and international providers. Sunway is also aiming to improve its health information systems, reportedly moving away from its previous contract with an international player and engaging in negotiations with other international providers to adopt better clinical processes and introduce AI. Given the direction of these major groups, healthcare in Malaysia is set to see a new generation of technologies serving and benefiting customers.
As a nation, Malaysia appreciates the importance of developing medical information systems across the country. The Minister of Health has publicly stated that the government is supporting this through purchasing advanced EMR systems from around the world as well as aiming to promote the development of other important technologies such as artificial intelligence, cloud computing and big data.
These developments are helping Malaysia expand its offering through high-quality digital infrastructure. This has the effect of enhancing the country’s high-quality care capabilities, providing better patient experience and helping accumulate large-scale medical data to improve the use of AI-related solutions for predicting diseases.
As the pandemic is slowly brought under control, Malaysia has gradually resumed economic production and international tourism. Last year, the country launched the first Medical Tourism Year, inviting people from all over the world to experience medical and health tourism services in Malaysia. The comfortable climate, stunning scenery, and advanced medical services will ensure Malaysia remains one of the most popular medical tourism destinations for years to come.
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