Indonesians are the top healthcare travellers to Malaysia, says MD of upcoming hospital mixed development.
Indonesians are anticipated to continue to be the biggest medical and wellness travellers to Malaysia, says Datuk Dr Colin Lee, MD of KL Wellness City Sdn Bhd. The reasons favouring Malaysia are simple: Logistical convenience, cultural similarities and excellent quality and cheap healthcare. Some Indonesians who used to go to Singapore for medical care have switched to Malaysia due to its relative cheapness compared to Singapore. This is especially so after the Sing dollar appreciated strongly against the Malaysian Ringgit and Indonesian Rupiah. ”Yet, they find the healthcare quality practically comparable to Singapore. Even some Singaporeans prefer to visit Malaysian hospitals for the same reasons.”
Indonesia is on track to become the fourth largest economy in the world but its healthcare has not caught up yet hence many of its affluent citizens travel to Malaysia for their healthcare needs. Malaysia is well poised to capture this soon-to-be burgeoning market as income levels start rising in the largest ASEAN nation.
This situation will become even more evident in time to come as Malaysia welcomes a new international hospital in 2025. Designed to be the smartest hospital in ASEAN, with the most advanced state-of-the-art equipment in ASEAN that “exceeds even Singapore’s Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital and Bangkok’s Bumrungrad International Hospital, this hospital is anticipated to seal the country as the top ASEAN destination for medical and wellness tourism,” predicts Dr Colin, who is considered a pioneer in healthcare tourism along with Francis Lim, who was formerly CEO of Nilai Medical Centre, TMC Life Sciences, Tropicana Medical Centre and Mahkota Medical Centre. Lim is currently a director and shareholder of KLWC.
The state-of-the-art equipment is the number one factor that will draw the top specialists to come and set up their clinics there. This is followed by the freedom given to the specialists to charge their own set of fees, as well as the freedom to stock and dispense prescription medicines. In addition, their clinic at the medical specialist suites at Noble Healthcare Park is within walking distance to the operating theatres and beds of the main hospital.
According to Dr Colin, 43% of healthcare travellers to Malaysia visit Penang followed by Klang Valley (38%) and Melaka (18%). The IVF pioneer believes that medical and wellness tourism will see a huge pickup soon due to the aftermath of the pandemic which has caused people to be more conscious of their health and wellness needs.
Shortage of rooms anticipated
The 624-bed (scalable to 1,000 beds) tertiary hospital is the centrepiece of KL Wellness City (KL WC), a 26.5-acrehospital and wellness mixed development in Kuala Lumpur that will see Malaysia’s first ever Healthcare Mall featuring traditional, complementary and alternative treatments not practised by Western medicine.
The mixed development also comprises wellness suites that are designed for short and medium stays for people accompanying the patients. “Typically, patients just don’t fly in and fly out; they would need several visits to the clinic or hospital which would take up between 5-8 days. While patients are accommodated at the hospital, the people accompanying them would need accommodation as well,” notes Dr Lee, who’s a specialist in gynaecology and IVF.
‘When fully operational, the accommodation requirements are estimated to be about 8,000 units while we only plan to build 512 wellness suites. As such, the shortage would result in higher rental returns of between 8-16%. Post-2025, we plan to build some retirement units, assisted living units and multigenerational units to make this a fully integrated medical and wellness development catering to both locals and foreigners. We believe wellness real estate will eventually attain premium status as time goes by.
“KLWC is envisioned to be a comprehensive, fully integrated and interconnected ecosystem that encompasses the entire spectrum of medical care, healthcare, wellness and fitness, all within wheelchair accessibility,” Dr Colin says, adding that the 10-year project has an estimated gross development value (GDV) of RMI 1.9 bi! by 2032. APR