Singapore, Japan can work together to get an edge in medical tourism

With fierce competition among medical hubs, attention is being paid to how to expand the market for medical tourism ("Medical tourism ambitions under threat"; Oct 17).

Japan and Singapore could work together to advance to the next stage of medical tourism.

Singapore enjoys a number of cutting-edge and personalised therapies that may not be available elsewhere.

Singapore patients could benefit from therapeutic travel in Japan, which has abundant resources that promote health.

The various cities across the country have unique diets, cultures and natural environments that enable tourists to improve their health.

Some can enjoy onsen (hot springs), which have healing capabilities because of the minerals in the spring; others can participate in Zen ceremonies at local temples to relieve stress.

Travel can be a tremendous force for healing.

But, through my experiences as a doctor and a certified national guide, I have realised that many patients with chronic conditions or complex illnesses give up travelling abroad because they are concerned about exacerbating their conditions.

Besides travel insurance, it is important to enable travelling patients to have access to appropriate healthcare in the event of an emergency, by means of a brief medical summary or electronic medical record.

With the exchange of patients, both Singapore and Japan can enjoy a win-win situation with innovative styles of medical tourism.

Hajime Ichiseki (Dr)