About 10 percent of mainland tourists visit Taiwan for the country’s quality medical services, in which health screening and cosmetic services are most popular, Department of Health (DOH) Bureau of Medical Affairs director-General Shih Chung-liang (???) said at a seminar yesterday.
At the Seminar on Medical Facilitator held by the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) and co-hosted by the DOH, Shih pointed out that Taiwan’s medical centers have been attractive to the mainland due to their skillful techniques, convenience, advanced equipment, reasonable prices, high quality and good services. The opening of self-guided trips to Taiwan gives people from the mainland another reason to consider medical tourism to Taiwan, he added.
Due to the limited number of days allowed by mainland tourist visas, medical tourists are currently unable to undergo complicated treatments, such as precision surgeries and extensive health screenings, said Lee San-kan, deputy head of Taichung Veterans general Hospital. Currently, mainland tourists can only focus on smaller procedures such as simple health checks and cosmetic treatments.
While Taiwan has the potential to become an international medical tourism destination, the government has to improve the visa and medical service system in order to keep up with international competition. The government needs to devise a visa policy for patients’ families, for example, to attract more visitors from overseas, Lee said.
According to TAITRA, Taiwan’s medical industry is among the top three in the world in terms of medical resources and techniques. Fourteen of the top 200 quality hospitals in the world are located in Taiwan, second only to 52 in the US and 18 in Germany, TAITRA pointed out. According to TAITRA estimates, the value of the country’s international medical service market has reached $4.4 billion.
The TAITRA is currently focusing its efforts on promoting the popular “high quality” health screening and medical cosmetic treatments. It has set up eight medical facilitators in the US and mainland China to introduce Taiwanese medical service internationally. The country has had a slow start in international medical service development, but is still in a good position given its high quality, the trade office said.
However, the TAITRA said the push for international medical service will focus on medium and small hospitals to ensure Taiwanese citizens’ rights in large medical centers, which usually have a heavier workload. The TAITRA will work with the DOH to conduct a joint review of these smaller hospitals to provide medical tourists with better references and to give governmental certification to small clinics with medical tourism service capabilities.