CHONGQING - Raffles Medical Group officially opened its first hospital in China on Monday (Jan 7) in south-western Chongqing.
Touted as Singapore's first tertiary hospital in China, Raffles Hospital Chongqing is a 700-bed facility with a gross floor area of more than 100,000 sq m.
The hospital, which is fully owned and operated by the Singapore healthcare player, comes as China promises to open up more sectors, including healthcare, to foreign investors.
Dr Loo Choon Yong, executive chairman of Raffles Medical Group, noted that China presents more opportunities for the group to expand into other cities as it liberalises its healthcare market.
"They are now more used to international hospitals operating. The rules are becoming clearer, and therefore it will be easier," he told Singapore reporters at the hospital located in the same district as Chongqing's airport, about a half-an-hour drive north from the city centre.
With the opening up, there will be more players but it also means that the people will have more choices for the quality of service, quality of care as well as price efficiency, he added.
Other than targeting affluent locals and the expats, Raffles Hospital Chongqing hopes to attract foreign patients.
"Traditionally you see that people go out of the country for treatment, those who want to choose treatment in the West," said Dr Loo.
But, at the same time, there are people in other countries such as in Central Asia, which are to the west of China, who will go to Singapore to seek treatment, he pointed out.
With this new hospital, Dr Loo thinks many of these patients will choose to come to Chongqing in the future.
Said Dr Loo: "So we help them make Chongqing more known as a centre for foreign patients."
Distances have collapsed with improved transport linkages as a result of the Chongqing Connectivity Initiative and it will become more feasible for people to access care in Chongqing, he added.
Other than Chongqing, the group operates medical centres in six Chinese cities, including Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen as well as in Hong Kong.
It will open a second hospital in Shanghai in the later part of this year.
"We have looked at China for a long time and we decided this is the time," said Dr Loo of the group's expansion in the country.
The Shanghai hospital will serve the affluent coastal region in the east.
"Shanghai is more international and it has a big expat population," Dr Loo added.