Tue, Jun 26, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Hospitals launch group to tap into SE Asian market

Staff writer, with CNA

Seventeen large hospitals in Taiwan yesterday formally launched an association to jointly explore the healthcare market in nations targeted by the government’s New Southbound Policy.

The association includes National Taiwan University Hospital, Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Taipei Veterans General Hospital and Mackay Memorial Hospital.

The initiative revolves around the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s “one center, one country plan,” Department of Medical Affairs Director-General Shih Chung-liang (石崇良) said.

The plan, unveiled earlier this month, appointed six Taiwanese medical centers or large hospitals to set up partnerships and promote medical exchanges with India, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand.

Each Taiwanese hospital is to gauge its partner country’s demand for medical services, train medical workers, provide health consulting services and help build an environment conducive to good medical care, the plan showed.

The hospitals will also try to attract people in those nations to get checkups or other medical care in Taiwan, it said.

Members of the association are to be responsible for implementing the plan, which Shih said would still require relaxing relevant laws, including incorporating “remote diagnoses” into the scope of international medical services that local hospitals can provide.

Taiwan has already amended regulations on training foreign health professionals and referring them to appropriate teaching hospitals, allowing medical professionals from target countries to receive practical, on-the-job training in Taiwan, Shih said.

Under the “one center, one country plan,” each of the six big hospitals are to invest NT$5 million (US$164,457) to explore opportunities in their partner country, hoping to double revenues of patients from foreign countries receiving medical care in Taiwan from the current NT$15 billion to NT$30 billion per year.

They also hope to boost exports of medicines and medical devices by 20 percent, according to the plan.

Taiwan External Trade Development Council president Walter Yeh (葉明水) on Friday said that more than 305,000 international patients received healthcare in Taiwan last year, with a third coming from Southeast Asia, showing that Taiwanese hospitals already have a good base in that market.

The organizers did not specify the obligations of the 11 hospitals added to the original six or their potential financial commitments.

The New Southbound Policy seeks to strengthen relations with Southeast and South Asian nations, Australia and New Zealand.

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