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MIHTE Conference 2012 Diary

The 1st Malaysia International Healthcare Travel Expo (MIHTE 2012) 05 - 07 November 2012 is being held to mark the rapidly emerging and highly lucrative global healthcare travel industry.

IIRSM Chairman, Keith Scott and IIRSM Board Director, Dr Su Wang are representing IIRSM at the Expo. You can read their daily updates below.


Day 1 - 05 November 2012

Monday 5th November and Su and I have just attended the welcome networking event. The first impressions are of good organisation and a friendly welcome to over 900 delegates from around the World. Already we have had questions and comments regarding Risk Management and have been impressed with how important the medical providers take the subject. It has been interesting to note some comments that perhaps their recent efforts to publicise the health and safety standards have been focussed on local inhabitants. Su and I are looking forward to tomorrow and our first full day of conference.

Keith Scott, IIRSM Chairman


Day 2 - 06 November 2012

MIHTE was launched on 06-11-12 by the Malaysian Minister of Heath (Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai), highlighting the importance given by the Malaysian government to this subject. We are told there are 900 delegates from many countries from the Asia Pacific, Middle East, Indian Subcontinent, Europe, Americas, and Far East.

Today saw some insights into the issues surrounding health tourism and how health, safety and risk management are critical issue for the providers to deal with.

We had some interesting presentations on economic impacts on both countries where the patient lives and where they travel too. Additional spending in one country will mean that spend is lost from the home country thereby having a detrimental impact on local services. This can be positive or negative in that waiting lists may be reduced but then reduced usage may mean that it is not cost effective to replace equipment or services if underused etc.

Health and safety standards for non-clinical issues were raised as important to reassure those contemplating travel to other countries. In addition, issues around governance and legal liability were raised as issues which need to be addressed when providers consider entering into the market place.

Ensuring that low cost is not the main driver was raised as an important trap to avoid and quality of service, success rates, regulations and certification need to be transparent and publicised. The marketing needs to recognise that the potential patient is actually a customer who may need to have access to a wider range of information than has been available to date.

There were good speakers on marketing and the latest techniques in online marketing. Something we may be able to use for IIRSM’s benefit.

We also met some important players in the Health department of Malaysia and delegates from far and wide. So all in all it was a good day for learning and networking.

Topics today included:
Growth of global medical travel, and its impact of origin and destination Countries
Healthcare Travel, Malaysian style- taking a step beyond global norms 
Bringing quality and affordable Healthcare, across boundaries 
Combining leading edge clinical practice and Corporate Social Responsibility and lessons learned in a land far beyond
Health Tourism Facilitators, emerging roles, opportunities and challenges
Branding: the most important tool in marketing and packaging global medical tourism
Online Marketing, turning the 'window shopper' into a paying patient

Keith Scott, IIRSM Chairman & Su Wang, IIRSM Board Director


Day 03 - 07 November 2012

It is the last day of the conference today and we had another packed day of great speakers from around the World. the topics included the concept of traditional Chinese medicine and integration of Western medicine to enhance patient care and improve recuperation and rehabilitation.

It was interesting to learn about 'Wellness' and the definition used by one provider as dealing with the mind, body, spirit in a conducive environment.

Speakers also touched on the need to have evidence based standards and regulation, now where have we heard that one before? (the loftstedt review)

In addition we had comments around how important accreditation is for international, external recognition with the aim of developing trust and confidence.

We met some more great contacts who work in the USA, Middle East, Malaysia and Kenya.

Tomorrow we leave Kuala Lumpur and venture out to visit medical facilities. I am off to Melaka.

Keith Scott, IIRSM Chairman


Day 04 - 08 November 2012

Day 4 and I travelled to Melaka, south East of Kuala Lumpur. We visited two hospitals and they were worlds apart. The first was a private venture run as a charity, and very new. The design of the building was focussed on ensuring that patients had minimal travel between treatments and there is a hotel wing for patient’s relatives to stay. They have on-suite facilities and the recreation areas is decorated and furnished in a variety of styles reflecting the ethnic backgrounds and with a separate room furnished European style. The second made me feel more at home as it was just like any NHS hospital. Notable in that the patients have to move round the hospital to access the services. Another great day of learning how the health providers do their work in Malaysia and a practical view of their standards.

Keith Scott, IIRSM Chairman


Day 05 - 09 November 2012

Today I visited the Mahkota Medical Centre in Melaka. It was very interesting to meet Sally Tan the General Manager. Sally is also the person responsible for occupational health and safety at the medical centre. We had an interesting discussion about the holistic safety of patients who travel from overseas to have treatment. I highlighted the example of a patient having reduced mobility, staying in a local hotel. I asked if Sally communicated the restricted mobility information to the hotel so that the hotel can locate the patient near to fire exits on lower floors and if she checked to see if help would be provided in the event of a need to evacuate the hotel.

Sally indicated that she would consider liaising with the hotel to discuss how they can better communicate the safety requirements for patients recovering off hospital premises.

Sally has a regulated health and safety committee established and she may consider inviting the safety officers from the hotels to improve hazard information.

So a great end to the week.

Tomorrow Su Wang has a meeting with the organisers of the conference, which hopefully will allow us to contribute to helping the Malaysian health travel industry consider the holistic safety of patients.

I must say that I have generally been very impressed with the standards of health care which I have seen. However, I think there is a little more we can do to help raise awareness of general safety issues.


Keith Scott, IIRSM Chairman

Today was another full day: we visited 2 hospitals in Ipoh. Fatimah is a not-for-profit hospital, and was founded by a German priest, and today still retains its mission of serving the community and the poor.

I was particularly impressed by their "baby hatch"' in response to abandoned babies. They have saved 6 babies since this was innovated circa 9 months ago. It is believed these babies may have been abandoned by nationals from neighbouring counties who come to Kuala Lumpur to work. One abandoned baby had hydrocephalus, so we can speculate one reason why these babies were abandoned. Prior to the "baby hatch"' these babies were found drowned, or found dead. The baby hatch is an opening in the wall, with a crib behind it. It is positioned in Casualty, and when the hatch door is opened, a buzzer sounds in Casualty, so staff are alerted immediately. To give the mother confidentially, the hatch is shielded by a wall, and the mother (we assume it is the mother) is given privacy and anonymity. Babies needing medical attention are treated, and eventually handed over to Welfare for onward care, for example, for adoption.

Another feature which made Fatimah Hospital special in my eyes, is their taking the views of the community seriously. The hospital is unique is in that, in addition to the Board of Directors, there is a Board of Visitors, who contribute how the hospital is managed, serviced, and designed. Needless to say Fatimah Hospital has a full modern range of medical facilities, equipment, and specialist services, as similar tertiary hospitals.

For further information on Fatimah Hospital, check out their

Su Wang, IIRSM Board Director

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