TORONTO — The Philippines may have found its next sunrise industry in the medical tourism field.
A study titled “Philippine Medical Tourism Compendium 2011: Facts, Figures & Strategies” estimated that the country earned a total of $1.30 billion from health care and wellness services in the period of 2006 to 2010.
The study also projected that the Philippines has the potential to earn as much as $1 billion in additional annual revenue by 2018 or earlier if it would invest thoroughly on healthcare infrastructures, more open and liberal travel arrangements for medical tourists and lay down an extensive international marketing promotions campaign.
The study, conducted by healthcare business intelligence firm Healthcore, indicated that the earnings were from overseas foreign tourists and balikbayans who visited during the period of the study.
The research noted that the Philippines has a high potential to grab a larger market share in the global medical tourism industry based on the following criteria: High level of quality in healthcare; Competitive cost of healthcare services; Large supply of competent healthcare professionals; English communication skill, and culture of compassion and service; and Geographical proximity to countries that have expensive medical services such as Guam and Micronesia, Australia, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.
The study noted that top tertiary hospitals in the Philippines have state-of-the-art medical and hospital facilities and were staffed with highly qualified medical consultants, doctors, nurses and other personnel. It added that at least eight hospitals and clinics were now accredited by various international accreditation agencies.
The Philippines also has a competitive edge since these world-class healthcare services generally cost lower than in most developed countries like the United States and Canada.
The Philippines, being a major source of medical professionals to the global workforce, boasts of world-class medical doctors, highly qualified nurses, therapists, and medical technicians.
The Filipinos’ high level of English communication skills, and unique culture of compassion and service – the same competitive advantage that made the country one of the top BPO providers in the world – will also help place the Philippines among the top global healthcare providers.
International research firm Deloitte, the research added, has identified the Philippines as one of the emerging players in the multi-billion dollar industry, which currently is dominated in Asia by Singapore, India, Malaysia and Thailand.
The study concluded that medical and tourism sectors and other related industry stakeholders should work together and further develop broad-ranging strategies and facilitate the implementation of programs in the field of healthcare infrastructure and service, likewise, the government should liberalize visa restriction for medical travelers and an aggressive international marketing and promotions campaign should be launched in order to catapult the Philippines in the elite circle of medical tourism providers.