Thailand as the premier destination for medical tourism was the topic at the November 18 meeting of the Pattaya City Expats Club. The speaker was Neil Maniquiz, the head of the International Marketing Department at the Bangkok Hospital Pattaya (BHP). Neil is a graduate nurse, and has a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from the Philippines. For post-graduate experience he went to the US where he acquired a nursing license and had nursing experience in California.
On returning to Thailand, he worked for a while as a management trainee in the Bangkok Medical Center, the ‘parent’ hospital to the Bangkok Hospital Pattaya. He has been a resource person for the Tourism Authority of Thailand, assisting that organization to promote Thailand as a hub for medical tourism over all the other countries which are also trying to attract the medical tourism dollar. With his depth of experience in the medical tourism field, he also assists other hospitals in the Bangkok hospital network.
Neil Maniquiz, the Head of the International Marketing Department at the Bangkok Hospital Pattaya (BHP), introduces the concept of Thailand as the ‘premier destination for medical tourism’ within Asia.
Neil started by mentioning that the government held its Thailand Medical HUB Expo 2012 to state its strategy to promote medical tourism to Thailand over the next five years. Literature on the expo noted the government has set a policy to turn the country into a medical hub in four major areas: medical treatment, health promotion, traditional Thai medicine and alternative medicine, and health products, especially Thai herbs. It has also worked out a strategy, to be implemented from 2012 to 2016, for the development of Thailand into a medical hub.
Board member Jerry Dean presents member Jon (Hans) Stroosnyder with a certificate recognising Jon’s services to the club, particularly assisting members with monthly visits to the Motor Registry to get licences and car registrations.
Another objective is to encourage health establishments in Thailand to improve their services to higher standards. Public Health Minister Wittaya Buranasiri expects that this policy will bring in 800 billion baht in earnings in the next five years. Since the beginning of 2012, about 2.5 million foreign tourists have visited Thailand for medical services, thus bringing in about 121.6 billion baht. Neil said there are five “S”s involved in Thailand’s medical tourism strategy. They are safety, savings, service, staff, and sun & sand.
Safety relates to accreditation for hospitals in Thailand. There are at least 26 hospitals that have JCI accreditation which includes hospitals such as BHP that are in the Bangkok Hospital Group. JCI (Joint Commission International) is a US-based organization that evaluates hospitals using stringent procedures, based on over 300 standards. Their evaluations include onsite inspections and personnel examinations.
Savings relates to the lower cost of medical care from that charged in many countries. To illustrate this point, Neil displayed a chart from the American Medical Association comparing costs for certain medical procedures in the USA, India, Singapore, and Thailand. The savings shown were substantial; for example, a heart bypass, costs about $130,000 in the USA, but only $11,000 in Thailand (India was $10,000 and Singapore was $18,500).
Continuing on with the five “S”s, Neil spent some time on Service; extolling the virtues of traditional Thai hospitality coupled with the inclusion of concierge services for making travel arrangements for the patients and the hospital’s International Department that is staffed with people from various countries that are attuned to the customs and culture of the patients.
Board member and web master Darrel Vaught updates members on recent additions to the club web site, which can be found at www.pattayacityexpatsclub.com.
In the area of staff, he pointed out the high quality of medical staff; many who have received international training in their specialties. Also included in this area is the fact that many Thai international hospitals are up to date with the latest technology.
In conclusion, Neil noted that in addition to getting medical treatment, many medical tourists choose to include the usual tourist activities of enjoying sun and sand; with many choosing to come back another time just for a holiday stay.
Master of Ceremonies Richard Silverberg then provided an update on upcoming events and called on Roy Albiston to conduct the Open Forum where questions are asked and answered about expat living in Thailand; Pattaya in particular.
Read more about the club’s activities on their website at www.pattayacityexpatsclub.com.