Medical tourism seen robust amid crisis

by Miguel Camus / Researcher ,  Business Mirror | 2009-03-19

ST. Luke's Medical Center is optimistic it will be able to increase its share of medical tourists this year amid the worst economic crisis in nearly eight decades, said its top official.

Jose Ledesma, St. Luke's president and CEO, added that despite the crisis, the hospital will continue to spend on hospital improvements, particularly on new equipment, renovations and additional staff training.

"The government is really trying to push for medical tourism, and we're working with them in terms of attracting more patients here, whether this program will translate to more numbers because of the recession of the [world] economy—nobody knows—but we’re hopeful that will happen," he told reporters at the sidelines of a briefing.

Asia has been identified as a lucrative area in the medical-tourism industry. In 2007, the region generated revenues worth $3.4 billion, according to a report from the Asian Medical Tourism Analysis (2008-2012).

Ledesma said 5 percent of their total patients are foreign-based. Top countries that visit the Philippines for treatments are mostly from the South Pacific, like Thailand and Guam, as well as from the US, particularly Filipino-Americans.

St. Luke's Quezon City treats over 2 million patients yearly, according to hospital officials.

Meanwhile, the hospital has allotted some P500 million to P1 billion in new technology investments, hospital renovations and customer-service training this year, according to Ledesma. 

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