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Taiwan's medical tourism industry

Topic 1: Taiwan's world class medical tourism 
Speaker: Amy Tsai, Manager, Service Industry Promotion Center, Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA)
Tsai gave an overview of Taiwan's medical tourism industry and reported how TAITRA is helping to promote the industry.
According to analysis by McKinsey, advanced technologies and better quality care are the two most important factors for medical tourists when choosing a destination for medical treatment. Taiwan scores well on both of these indicators. The third most important reason why medical tourists go overseas is because they want quicker access to treatment that would otherwise require long waiting times in their home countries. Others go overseas for medical treatment because it is cheaper than in their home countries.

There is an increasing trend to shift focus from disease treatment toward disease prevention. This is why it makes sense to combine medical services with tourism, particularly so-called "health and wellness" tourism packages.
Another major trend in many countries is attracting foreign medical travelers through advanced medical technology at relatively low costs.

According to the statistics from Taiwan's Department of Health, over 170,000 medical tourists visited Taiwan and made use of Taiwan's medical services in 2012, a 60% increase on the number of international patients from the previous year.

TAITRA is working to enhance Taiwan's reputation as one of the world's best medical tourism destinations. It is also seeking to create cooperation opportunities between travel agencies and medical institutions and organizing overseas promotion activities. Tsai's department collects and provides information on hospitals and the full range of medical services available across Taiwan.

Topic 2: Opportunities in medical tourism and understanding Taiwan healthcare marketplace: The current status of Taiwan's health care services
Speaker: Dr John Jean, CEO, International Medical Services, Taipei Medical University-Wan Fang Hospital
Taiwan's health statistics have improved over the past few decades along with rising economic prosperity, particularly since the launch of Taiwan's national health insurance system in 1995. Life expectancy has risen from 73 (for men) and 79 (for women) in 2005 to 76 (for men and 82 for women in 2011, giving Taiwan one of the world's highest longevity rates.

Taiwan's medical services are highly rated for their professionalism, quality and affordability. Taiwan's national health system is also highly rated internationally for its relative efficiency and low cost. Taiwan spends only about 7% of GDP on health care compared to close to 18% in the United States. Medical services of similar quality cost between 20% and 50% less than in Taiwan than they do in the United States.

In addition to the USA, Canada, and Australia, Taiwan is the fourth country implementing a hospital accreditation system. The Taiwan Joint Commission on Hospital Accreditation gained International Society for Quality in Healthcare (ISQua) certification in 2006. It is the first institution in Asia and the eighth in the world to gain certification. Given the very strict standards, only 14 hospitals in Taiwan have gained international JCI accreditation.

Taiwan is able to provide high quality and low cost treatment for items such as facial cranial reconstruction, organ transplant, cardiovascular therapy, assisted reproductive therapy, joint replacement as well as elective medical tourism related services such as plastic surgery, laser cosmetic surgery, physical check-ups and spa treatment. Taiwan also has a very high success rate of 81% for heart, liver and kidney transplants compared to 77-79% in the United States. Taiwan's cancer patient survival rates post treatment are also comparable to those of the United States. For these reasons, the prospects are good for continued growth in medical tourism in Taiwan.

Topic 3: Aesthetic medical and eye treatment in Taiwan: Oculoplasty, rejuvenation injections
Speaker: Dr Chen Mei-ling, CEO, Merrier Aesthetic Medical Business
Dr Chen is one of a growing number of specialists in elective cosmetic surgery and such as eyelid surgery and aesthetic medicine treatments such as botox, fillers and procedures to remove wrinkles. Taiwan is becoming a popular destination for cosmetic surgery and other beauty treatments given relatively low costs. Chen's presentation outlined some of the most popular surgeries and treatments to make people look younger and more beautiful.