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Vying for the medical tourism pie
Published on: Sunday, June 18, 2017

ASIAN countries are vying for a fair share of the medical tourism pie, and Taiwan is no exception.

While here, President of the Association of Malaysian Spas (Amspa), Datin Jeanette Tambakau realised that hotel and resort spas are supporting medical and health services with pre-and post-surgery packages.

"Apparently, anti-ageing is a key medi-spa driver. As I see it, the way forward is for spas to continue to increase their role in wellness, and likewise, hospitals will be more prone to having spa offerings in the future," she said.

A medi-spa is a spa that has a medical programme, operated under the supervision of a licensed healthcare professional. These spas use medical treatments such as lasers and other medical beauty procedures as well as providing traditional spa services such as facials and massages.

From Tambakau's observation, there is a significant shift on the part of consumers' needs.

"People nowadays seek a balance among physical, psychological and spiritual wellness with focus on preventive medicine in the interest of holistic health. In other words, medical science is no longer the only solution.

A new trend for combining vacationing with health management is sweeping the globe and preventive medicine is the key concept for the 21st century," she said.

The shift, Tambakau noted, includes an increased comfort level with medi-spa procedures and incorporating this into preventive treatment and services. "For day spas, luxury spas and cosmetic spas, the new trend will ultimately drive a more collaborative approach with the health and medical industries."

According to her, the preventive health segment has the largest upside for potential growth.

"This is further triggered by the fact that consumers are becoming far more health-conscious.

Such development will drive a closer collaboration between spas and healthcare," she added.

Together with Swepa's past President Sue Yong and legal adviser Teoh See See, Tambakau, who is the Immediate Past President, took a peek into the Taipei Beitou Health Management Hospital and its adjoining Hotel Royal Beitou (in one block) in an attempt to study Taiwan's new-style medical tourism.

Taipei Beitou Health Management Hospital is reportedly the first institution dedicated to medical tourism in Taiwan as well as the island nation's first health management hospital. Located in a beautiful natural environment with a rich local culture in the suburban Taipei city, the hospital offers a comprehensive health checkup by using state-of-the-art medical technologies and MR (Magnetic Resonance) imaging technology, coupled with health counselling.

In a briefing for the trio, the hospital's Special Assistant (Board & Administration Department), Mark Chen said the internationally renowned Hotel Royal Beitou and Taipei Beitou Health Management Hospital have come together to set up a new health-centred service called the Taipei Wellness Clinic and Resort.

Basically, the Taipei Wellness Clinic and Resort is synonymous with a customised health and wellness vacation for healthy people.

"Clearly, the facility combines health management, health promotion, leisure and culture in a single medical tourism package. In this regard, the hospital works closely with Hotel Royal Beitou. We comply with the national medical tourism policy, which is to offer a pleasant and comfortable health checkup and aesthetic medicine.

All this is integrated with hotel service and local tours to meet guests' varied needs," he explained.

According to Chen, guests have a choice – they may undergo health checkup and/or aesthetic treatment offered by the professional medical team at an easy pace or simply relax enjoying healthy cuisine and health promoting programmes in a comfortable and private environment.

"We are impressed with the set-up for a complete health management service coupled with leisure and culture to promote a healthy lifestyle. From the Taipei Wellness Clinic and Resort, which is designed to alleviate anxiety, one can enjoy the picturesque landscape of Beitou and Yang-Ming Mountain. While the clinic offers quality health conscious services and attentive care, the resort serves local delicacies and a unique white sulphur hot spring for guests for a relaxing health journey," Tambakau remarked after a tour of the facilities.

The new-style medical tourism package has been developed for a health vacation (state-of-the-art medical imaging checkups, personalised health management, health counselling, healthy cuisine, exclusive fitness classes, and invigorating Quan Spa therapy with white sulphur hot spring bath), beauty vacation (medical cosmetic/plastic surgery/skin treatment procedures, and collagen-rich cuisine for beauty enhancement) and leisure (tour of Beitou, visits to historical sites and museums, and ecological tour of Yangmingshan).

"In short, the whole concept of medical tourism in Taipei is a combination of wellness clinic (which is the hospital), spa facility and resort (which is actually the hotel), all three coming under one roof," she said, adding that is the emerging trend in healthcare development. - Mary Chin

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