Increasing the talent pool is the key to expand the healthcare industry

Singapore has established itself as a tertiary medical destination in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. One of the Singapore’s biggest private healthcare providers is Parkway Group Healthcare Pte Ltd, which operates three of premier healthcare providers: East Shore, Gleneagles and Mount Elizabeth Hospitals. Recently Mr. Kamaljeet Singh Gill, the Chief Marketing Officer of Parkway Health came to Bangladesh on a business trip and shared his views with Star Health.

Star Health (SH): What was the impact of global economic recession upon your healthcare business?
Mr Kamaljeet Singh Gill (Mr Gill): The effect of recession took some time to reach Singapore. Healthcare business was expected to be recession-proof. So we monitored the impact quarter to quarter basis upon many parameters like patient turnover and so on. It showed different patterns of ups and downs. Then we changed our marketing strategy to emphasis implying new policy — it was the time to invest more, rather pulling off the paddle from the business; we kept waiting to get the result of the investment in course of time. We emphasised to increase the service to the patients that ultimately helped us to recover the shortfall which was for the time being in fact. We believe that the healthcare is unlike the business of other commodities where the return comes promptly. It takes time to earn reputation form the patients who certify it for the sake of real services on the ground. So we intensified all our service oriented activities.

SH: Singapore has become the hub of medical services with the latest cutting edge technologies and procedures. What are the areas you broaden the horizon to attract more people?
Mr Gill: Parkway has promised to continuous updating the knowledge and technologies. All our hospitals are Joint Commission International (JCI) accredited. This basically tells that we are on the line of delivering standard services. We can handle patients better, faster in a safer environment. We train our doctors and nurses in such way that the patients do not have to wait when they come to us. We provide very specialised and personalised care.

We do not want to see Singapore as a medical tourism destination, but more a medical travel destination who provide the tertiary services (like bone marrow, liver, kidney, heart transplant etc.) when people actually need it; when people need the correct diagnosis and treatment accordingly.

SH: What are the other reasons you put on board to attract patients seeking medical services in terms of financial aspect?
Mr Gill: Well, we ensure the service at a shortest possible time which ultimately helps patients to spend less. We have so many fixed price packages that helps patients to make their budget at competitive price.

Cultural barriers are big problems in abroad. So we have interpreters for better and convenient communication with the hospital. We have liaison offices in countries from where patients come. Patients can consult with the doctors providing their investigation reports before travelling to Singapore that reduces the cost of staying more days in the hospital. Many procedures are done on day case basis now a days.

SH: What is your recommendation to expand the healthcare industry in a country like Bangladesh?
Mr Gill: Hospitals need to be built first and it can be built as many affluent Bangladeshis are there to do that. But more importantly — the talent pool of doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals need to be developed. Bangladesh is a very big market in terms of population. To satisfy the need of large number of patients, these talent pools are crucial where doctor-patient, doctor-nurse and patient-nurse ratio is very poor.

Source: The Daily Star, February 06, 2010

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