There are signs that the medical tourism industry in Singapore is becoming healthy again. Things are looking up after the recession, which hit at the end of 2008 and continued for much of 2009, caused some reduction in business. As many economies have stabilized or recovered, the industry is upbeat for 2010.The general view is that late 2008 and early 2009 were both quiet, but mid to late 2009 has seen a steady recovery and a return of confidence. ParkwayHealth reports that it has seen a steady recovery since the middle of 2009 and prospects for 2010 are encouraging enough for it to continue with plans for a new hospital in Novena.
For Singapore, Indonesia is a key market. ParkwayHealth saw figures down in all three hospitals of around 8% from Indonesia in late 2008, but 2009 has seen a gradual return to normal. Pacific Healthcare runs specialist centres and clinics, and suffered a 10 per cent fall in medical tourists in 2008.Indonesians form the largest group of medical tourists for them, and the financial crisis last year weakened the rupiah, and there were also uncertainties about the economy and when it would recover. Rather than just relaying on Asian business, more medical groups are targeting patients from Russia, Germany and Sweden.
Malaysian private hospital Sime Darby Medical Centre Subang Jaya (SDMCSJ) has agreed with the National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS) a patient referral partnership to treat cancer. Both will make referrals to consenting patients on a need basis, from time to time, for second medical consultations and follow-up treatment. SDMCSJ’s Elaine Cheong said this paves the way for a smooth and hassle- free process for patients who travel to both countries for management and treatment, "Our cancer centre and NCCS will also cooperate to provide financial counselling to patients regarding the referrals."
Singapore Tourism Board reports that the medical travel sector is fairly resilient, given that health-care treatments are often a matter of necessity, and it continues to work towards the target of one million patients by 2012.
Figures from SingaporeMedicine show that in 2008, 646,000 ‘ medical travelers’ came, up from 571,000 in 2007. But these numbers are misleading as they patients and those who accompanied them here, as well as tourists who received incidental health care. SingaporeMedicine is a government-industry partnership to promote the country as a world-class health-care destination.
Dr Wei Siang Yu founded medical tourism portal Fly Free For Health, has seen more traffic in the last months of 2009. Users can get opinions from doctors and nurses online so that they feel reassured about travelling to Singapore.