As part of my ongoing medical tourism research in Singapore this week, I visited KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, a 900-bed tertiary care facility. After a tour of the facility, which matches anything I’ve seen in the US in terms of physical plant and creature comforts, I sat down to speak with Chong Pik Wan, the hospital’s Director of International Medical Services. She shared information about KK’s OB and fertility services and their relevance for medical travelers.
Peter and I discussed the benefits and challenges of e-prescribing, the role of health plans in paying for it, and the relationship between e-prescribing and electronic health records.
The interview took place in a noisy restaurant and I didn’t actually expect to get usable audio. But when I listened to the output from my new digital recorder I decided it was good enough for a podcast. Please excuse all the background noise, the less than perfect sound quality, and especially all my little “yeah’s” and “ok’s,” which I wouldn’t have emitted if I’d been thinking clearly!
Kevin Tan, Assistant Head of the Pharmaceuticals & Biotechnology Sciences group with Singapore’s Economic Development Board spoke Monday about Singapore’s biomedical strategy and the interrelationship between health care delivery and research. The country’s overall strategy to be a biomedical hub strengthens its position as a medical travel destination, especially for complex procedures and treatments.
Singapore is pursuing a holistic strategy comprising small molecule pharmaceuticals, biotech drugs and biotechnology, medical devices, and services, and spanning the value chain from discovery through manufacturing. The country has attracted scores of well-known international companies in each of the sectors. Large pharma companies including GSK, Lilly and Novartis have continued to expand their operations within Singapore after their initial investments paid off.
The government is taking a three-pronged approach:
- Human capital development — developing and attracting talent with scholarships for PhDs, post-doc programs, and global outreach
- Development of intellectual capital — through public R&D spending, spin-offs based on public R&D, and from industry-sponsored R&D by international and local companies
- Development of industrial capital –through direct investment in infrastructure, promotion of investment, and equity investment (there is a government backed VC firm, for example)
Singapore is emphasizing the translation of R&D into commercial products, a worthy objective that has proved elusive elsewhere. The country’s small size, deliberate strategy and history of pulling together to tackle major initiatives may help it succeed.
I’ve posted the transcript of my recent podcast interview with Stephanie Sulger from Medical Tours International at MedTripInfo.
Stephanie and many of her colleagues at MTI are nurses, and she told me about how she’s translated her nursing perspective into how MTI cares for its customers. I also spoke to her about quality control, travel friendly doctors in the US, and several other topics.
I spoke recently with Dr. Steven Tucker, an oncologist who is Medical Director of the West Clinic Singapore and President of the International Medical Travel Association.
Dr. Tucker spoke with me about what itâ€™s like to practice medicine in Singapore, how medical tourism and medical travel are evolving, and the role he hopes the International Medical Travel Association will play.
Listen in and hear what he has to say.