Resuscitate Singapore's push to be medical hub

I agree that there should be increased efforts to develop Singapore into a healthcare services hub in Asia (Keeping healthcare sector on its toes; June 20).

One of the benefits includes providing a critical mass of patients. This is essential to deepening our medical expertise, and is unlikely to be provided by the local patient pool alone.

There will also be a spillover effect from foreign patients' and their relatives' spending in the local hotel, retail and food and beverage industries.

While Singapore is generally deemed as being not as competitive in terms of medical pricing, as compared to neighbouring countries, our reputation in terms of clinical quality and delivery remains intact.

We still attract some of the most affluent patients to our shores.

However, we can continue to do more and be more focused on the patient segments that we intend to target.

Hence, I propose restarting a government-led central coordinating unit to work with both public and private healthcare institutions to market our excellent medical services abroad in a more holistic manner.

Such marketing efforts used to be part of the Singapore Tourism Board's initiatives to promote Singapore as a tourism destination.

However, such a marketing effort was given less priority, as Singapore's public healthcare sector was barely coping with the increasing local patient workload.

Now, with new public healthcare infrastructure in the pipeline, we should refocus our efforts in establishing our reputation as the medical hub in Asia, and refiring an important economic sector for Singapore.

Ian Sim

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 26, 2017, with the headline 'Resuscitate Singapore's push to be medical hub'. Print Edition | Subscribe