The availability of quality medical resources is one of Taiwan's most powerful competitiveness, but how the resources can be better utilized to not only take care of the health of residents in the country but also rake in more foreign exchanges through serving patients abroad has attracted growing interests among medical professionals and hospitals.
Quite a few doctors or healthcare professionals have chosen to set up healthcare startups rather than staying in the stable clinical medicine environment. But without the support of clinical resources, they can hardly get instant feedbacks for their products or services to facilitate improvements.
Such new healthcafre startups have attracted ICT engineers. The combination of career-minded healthcare professionals and ICT engineers is gaining momentum as a new force in search of breakthroughs amid the restrictions of the national health insurance program and uncertainty in the electronic products market.
It would be ideal for clinics or hospitals to keep their best technologies and services for residents in Taiwan while also serving international patients via cloud platforms.
In this regard, clinics or hospitals can install the most critical clinical decision and analysis capabilities on their cloud service platforms, and the physiological data collected from overseas patients via remote IoMT (Internet of Medical Things) hardware devices can be sent back to the platforms for analysis and diagnosis. This way, online healthcare staff can extend virtually on-spot medical care to overseas patients without wasting precious medical resources.
Joshua Healthcare's export operation model
Such an operation model is being carried out by Taipei-based Joshua Healthcare founded by Alpha Lin, an expert in hernia repair surgery. Lin's clinic has set up a cloud medical service platform allowing international patients to make hernia surgery reservations, and its medical team can help patients arrange airport pick-up service and make flight ticket, hotel room and surgery reservations.
The medical team can continue to handle post-surgery medical care for the patients, asking them to periodically upload their physiological data to the cloud platform to facilitate follow-up tracking of post-surgery conditions. Joshua Healthcare can refer Vietnamese patients to a Taiwan outpatient clinic at Ho Chi Minh City University of Medicine and Pharmacy, allowing doctors in both countries to engage in online consultations.
This way, Joshua Healthcare can integrate Taiwanese doctors serving at diverse departments to meet foreign demand for high-end healthcare services through remote cloud platforms. The doctors can spend most of their usual time serving patients in Taiwan, and their outstanding clinical surgery techniques can also attract overseas patients to come to the country to undergo paid surgery services on a full-payment basis. The medical tourism's economic benefits for transportation, lodging, restaurant, and travel services will usher in a multi-win integrated medical service model.
High-end healthcare market in Southeast Asia has been dominated by Singapore, and the top-two medical tourism destinations in the region are Thailand and Malaysia. Despite its world-class clinical medicine, Taiwan has lagged behind in medical tourism due to a lack of supporting measures and business models. In fact, remote healthcare services for patients in Southeast Asia or even Taiwanese investors there can become a new "blue-ocean" market for Taiwan's clinics and hospitals.
Another business model is being embraced by Changhua Christian Hospital (CCH), which is based in central Taiwan, for its operation in Thailand. In line with the Taiwan government's New Southbound Policy, the hospital's superintendent Kuo Shou-jen, CEO Nina Kao and a branch president Lee Kuo-wei have paid visits to top-tier hospitals in Thailand with the aim of leveraging CCH's abundant medical resources to help local hospitals in the Southeast Asian country build smart healthcare systems and dedicated medical care services.
CCH has been active in providing VIP medical checkup services for a large number of Taiwan investors and their managers in Thailand and offering healthcare consulting services for them through messaging app LINE. The hospital is also building strategic partnerships with hospitals there to localize and better healthcare services to Taiwanese investors and local people in the Southeast Asian country.
(Ken Yu is CEO of iMedtac)