SINGAPORE - Fresh off a plane and luggage in tow, Jane* climbs into the back of a cab and gives the driver instructions to take her, not to a hotel, but to Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital. She is in Singapore to undergo surgery to remove a potentially life-threatening brain tumour.
Three months after her surgery, Jane, who is recovering well, explains why she sought to undergo this major operation such a long way from home.
"There are good hospitals in my home country too, but the waiting time to see a doctor and to start treatment can range from months to over a year. Having been diagnosed with cancer, I just did not have the luxury of time. I wasn't going to sit around for months waiting for a doctor's appointment while my health deteriorated. Unlike my experience back home, the doctors at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital were able to ascertain my condition and arrange for my surgery within 72 hours," said Jane.
Patients from far and wide
Like Jane, many patients from across Asia fly into Singapore seeking top-notch medical treatment. Although medical treatment in their home countries would be cheaper and more convenient, many healthcare facilities face a shortage of specialist doctors, giving rise to long waiting times.
In contrast, Singapore, with its expertise to treat complex medical conditions and perform challenging medical procedures, lays out the welcome mat for medical tourists.
In addition to the abundance of expertise that can be found here, healthcare facilities in Singapore also boast some of the most advanced diagnosis equipment available in the market.
For instance, Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital houses state-of-the-art equipment including the PET-MRI and Asia's first revolutionary biograph mMR for clinical use.
If having a suite of top-of-the-range medical equipment, coupled with a multi-disciplinary team of specialists who can treat pretty much any ailment, is the hallmark of healthcare excellence, Singapore is a tough medical hub to beat.
More than just machines and medicine
Today, the most advanced hospitals in the world are no longer associated with sterile, cold and unwelcoming environments. Instead, they often feature holistic and luxurious surroundings, providing the warm touch that can aid in their patients' recovery.
To accentuate the welcoming atmosphere, hospitals furnish their wards and suites with plush furniture, and provide a host of hotel amenities such as Wi-Fi access, flat-screen televisions with on-demand entertainment, choice of bed linen and bathroom toiletries.
In keeping with this global trend, hospitals in Singapore have also moved beyond providing basic facilities and amenities. Walking into a hospital in Singapore today is a completely different experience compared to doing so 10, or even five, years ago.
As the forerunner of this movement, each of the 333 rooms at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital have been designed as private healing oases. Thoughtfully designed single-bedded, single-handed, canted rooms with decentralised air-conditioning controls and double-glazed floor to ceiling windows ensure that patients receive the highest quality care, comfort and privacy during their stay.
Keeping ahead of global healthcare standards
For the medical tourist, the benefits of seeking medical treatment in Singapore are clear.
Quick, unobstructed access to outstanding medical care, thoughtful touches in-room and for some, even the opportunity to receive highly specialised treatments unavailable in their home countries.
Hospitals also stand to gain from this mutually-beneficial relationship, though probably not in the way most might think.
"The willingness of patients to cross international boundaries for medical treatment at our hospitals serves as constant reminders for us to continuously keep our services and expertise at the forefront of global healthcare standards. It is, undoubtedly, a testament to our strong capabilities in the field on a regional scale, but we simply cannot afford to rest on our laurels. Our commitment to providing the best treatment available to our patients in a timely manner is as strong today as it has ever been," says Dr Kelvin Loh, Chief Executive Officer of Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital.
For Jane, her experience at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital offered her precisely what she needed, high quality medical care without long waiting times. More importantly, it gave her hope.
*Not her real name