Medical Tourism in Malaysia: Top 10 Hospitals & Why

Malaysia is one of the top medical tourism destinations in the world. Here are 10 of the best hospitals in the country and why.

by Calvyn Ee

Malaysia is a well-known tourist destination, not only for its natural beauty and cultural diversity, but also for its growing medical industry. Many medical tourists flock to Malaysia to seek excellent, professional care at affordable prices. In 2019, the country received over 1.22 million medical travellers, and the number is expected to rise, especially in today’s post-Covid climate.

Medical travellers will find themselves spoilt for choice as Malaysia is home to many accredited hospitals, each of which provides state-of-the-art treatment options, as well as exceptional doctors and nurses that provide highly professional and personalised service.

As a starting point, here is a list of 10 well known hospitals and medical centres in the country, some of which specialise in specific medical fields. Many of these institutions are also recipients of various regional and international accolades for providing quality healthcare services. Whatever your healthcare needs may be, these facilities will be able to assist you as best as they can.

Please do note that this is not a ranking list of the top 10 hospitals in the country. We are also not endorsed in any way by the institutions featured in this article.

Gleneagles Hospitals

With its Kuala Lumpur hospital a recipient of the 2018 “International Hospital of The Year” award from the International Medical Travel Journal, Gleneagles Hospitals offers a wide variety of medical services. Gleneagles operates three other hospitals in Malaysia: Kota Kinabalu, Penang, and Johor. Each hospital specialises in various medical fields; the Kota Kinabalu hospital, for example, has key clinical services in neurology, cardiovascular treatments, orthopaedics, as well as healthcare for women and children. The Kuala Lumpur hospital has a wider range of specialties, including oncological services and breast care.

Gleneagles Kuala Lumpur also offers minimally invasive surgery via its new da Vinci Surgical System, a robotic surgical platform that allows surgeons to conduct intricate surgeries with high precision and a high success rate. This can lead to better recovery rates with fewer post-surgery complications.

Another non-invasive treatment option comes in the form of the Elekta’s Gamma Knife Icon used for radiotherapy; it uses a neurosurgical procedure that utilises 192 precise radiation beams, focusing high doses of radiation at a targeted spot. Not only is it effective at shrinking, and disintegrating, tumours and other abnormalities, but it also ensures the surrounding healthy tissue is not bombarded by radiation. This revolutionary piece of technology ensures that even the most difficult of tumour removal procedures can be done with little to no discomfort or lingering complications.

Medical tourists can expect to receive a wide range of services available to them besides treatment options. Among these include arrangements or consultation on transportation and accommodation once an appointment is made; providing advice on cost estimates and medical financial counselling; interpreting services for those unable to converse in English; and even make sightseeing arrangements if needed.

National Heart Institute (IJN)

Established in August 1992, IJN serves as the country’s cardiovascular and thoracic health centre, and even within Southeast Asia. IJN has a strong track record since its inception, having over 4 million patients treated over that span of time. It also achieved numerous clinical milestones, including performing the first myocardial stem cell transplant in Southeast Asia; the first in Asia to perform a Thoratec IVED mechanical heart implant; and the first hospital outside the United States to successfully implant the Micra AV pacemaker in 2020. As part of its research core, IJN is partnering with Bintai Kinden Corp Bhd to jointly develop a homegrown Covid-19 vaccine. As part of its role, IJN will conduct and lead clinical tests of the vaccine once it is ready for trials.

IJN offers a variety of diagnostic and treatment options for cardiovascular and thoracic health conditions. Among these include the use of state-of-the-art 3D mapping systems to diagnose and treat cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heartbeats); installation of special devices to treat ineffective pumping of blood by the heart’s atria; and minimally invasive surgery to repair or replace faulty cardiac valves.

Much like Gleneagles, IJN also provides various services for medical tourists seeking treatment, including visa and immigration services; follow-up consultations back in their home country; and excellent assistance throughout one’s stay, including insurance claims and travel-related help.

Sunway Medical Centre

Established in November 1999, Sunway Medical Centre in Bandar Sunway is an accredited hospital (accreditation from the Australian Council on Healthcare Standards, or ACHS) that previously won International Medical Travel Journal’s “International Hospital of the Year” award in 2019. Sunway Medical Centre has 26 centres of excellence, which offer holistic healthcare options that include bone therapy, psychiatry, cancer care, digestive care, heart health, and various other services.

Among the treatment options available at Sunway include nasal endoscopy to diagnose for tumours or other abnormalities, which can then be removed via minimally invasive surgical procedures; robot-assisted cochlear implant surgery for hearing difficulties; and even Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) for a future parents’ desire to have children. Sunway Medical Centre also happens to be one of the nation’s few hospitals that performs living donor kidney transplants. Started in 2020, the procedure involves transplanting a healthy kidney from a living donor (hence the name) to a person whose kidney(s) is/are no longer functioning properly.

As with Gleneagles and IJN, Sunway Medical Centre also offers comprehensive services for medical tourists. On top of providing assistance and advice on matters such as transportation, travel and accommodation arrangements, Sunway Medical Centre will help provide a second opinion on one’s healthcare needs, if it is deemed necessary. They also offer specially tailored packages, such as a 3D2N medical travel package that offers a free health screening, two nights’ worth of accommodation, and a free preloaded SIM card for immediate use.

KPJ Healthcare

KPJ Healthcare Bhd operates a wide network of 28 private specialist hospitals located across Malaysia. The first KPJ hospital opened its doors in Johor in 1981; KPJ also operates two hospitals in Indonesia, as well as a hospital in Bangladesh. KPJ also operates five specialty centres that tackle specific medical conditions, one of which (Lablink) provides quality medical laboratory services and manages KPJ hospitals’ laboratories. KPJ Healthcare’s commitment to healthcare has earned them a number of accolades, including “Orthopaedic Service Provider of the Year” for 2019 at the Asia Pacific Healthcare and Medical Tourism Awards. In recent times, KPJ is also seeing a positive growth trend, with a bed occupancy rate of 50 percent as at February this year.

KPJ’s hospitals aim to provide a “one stop integrated healthcare solution”. Each of its hospitals covers numerous medical disciplines while taking steps to increase its overall quality of care through accreditation and continuous improvements to diagnostic and treatment options. KPJ prides itself in the use of cutting edge medical technology to improve health outcomes. Examples include the use of the Elekta Versa HD linear accelerator system for targeted, and accurate, radiation therapy; as well as the AlterG Bionic Leg, a battery-powered leg orthosis that can help with physical rehabilitation therapies.

KPJ hospitals also offer a variety of special medical tourism packages to choose from, including screening tests for basic health, heart or liver function, and even for pre-employment health tests. Some of these packages may be limited to specific KPJ hospitals, however. Its international patient centre also offers similar services as other hospitals for medical tourists looking to seek treatment. This includes medical evacuation services, travel and accommodation assistance, and local tour arrangements.

International Specialist Eye Centre (ISEC)

ISEC was founded in 2000 and has a number of centres all over Malaysia, providing high quality eye care to people from all over the country, and even from every corner of the globe. ISEC prides itself in affordable yet top notch eye care options available to all, as well as the professional abilities of its ophthalmologists and supporting medical staff. As a testament to their focus on excellent healthcare outcomes, ISEC was the recipient of the 2019 “Ophthalmology Service Provider of the Year” award at the Asia Pacific Healthcare and Medical Tourism Awards.

ISEC’s expertise in eye care is extensive, with treatments available for cataracts, uveitis, presbyopia, as well as various retinal or corneal impairments. They use the most modern systems available to treat these eye conditions, with devices such as the ZYOPTIX® excimer laser platform that enables highly precise laser surgery to be conducted; and laser assisted in situ keratomileusis (LASIK) therapy that reshapes the cornea and improves overall eyesight and vision.

While they do not have a dedicated international patient centre of their own, they have partnered with nearby hotels that provide a special rate for medical tourists seeking treatment at any of their centres. On top of that, ISEC staff are also able to help facilitate visa, travel and accommodation arrangements.

Pantai Hospitals

Both Pantai and Gleneagles are subsidiaries of IHH Healthcare Berhad, considered one of the world’s largest healthcare networks. Where Gleneagles is viewed as IHH’s “signature international brand”, Pantai prides itself in its 45 year track record, serving both local residents and international medical tourists with the utmost care in its 11 hospitals around the country.

Pantai hospitals are all able to deliver a wide array of medical services, such as general surgery, cardiology and paediatrics. Six of their hospitals also offer dedicated centres of excellence that focus on specific disciplines. Pantai Ipoh, for example, is home to a heart centre and an orthopaedics centre; the former offers coronary bypass surgery and angioplasties as part of their suite of services, while the latter can perform reconstructive surgery, treat sports-related injuries and provide rehabilitative services.

However, medical tourists are directed to seek their healthcare options from three of their designated hospitals: Ayer Keroh, Malacca; Kuala Lumpur; and Penang. The hospitals are well accessible and are located close to various local attractions. Pantai Ayer Keroh, for example, boasts its proximity to historic Malacca, allowing medical tourists to immerse themselves in the sights and sounds of the scenery. The hospitals also offer similarly convenient services to expedite medical tourists’ travel and accommodation plans, such as airport transfer services and language interpretation.

TMC Fertility and Women’s Specialist Centre

TMC Fertility is an RTAC-certified fertility centre, with six centres located in various parts of the country. As its name implies, TMC Fertility provides professional, first-rate fertility treatments for future parents or couples who have difficulty conceiving. They also pride themselves with their high pregnancy rates (“close to 66%”), which puts them on par with various world-class fertility centres. TMC Fertility has had a string of milestones since 1996, and its longstanding commitment to quality fertility care was rewarded when it won the International Medical Travel Journal’s “International Fertility Clinic of the Year” in 2018.

TMC Fertility makes use of various medical advances, such as in-vitro fertilisation (IVF), to help couples conceive a child. They also rely on more conventional methods such as natural cycle monitoring and ovulation inductions to help improve the odds of conception. TMC Fertility guarantees that its procedures are clinically approved, with in-depth diagnostic tests to make sure only healthy embryos are selected, as well as rigorous monitoring of reproductive cells (immature or fertile eggs, for example) kept in their labs.

On top of this, they also offer fertility counselling services to help couples understand the implications of fertility treatments before they make a decision. Other services TMC Fertility provides includes sperm, or egg, freezing and banking for couples who might want to conceive at a later time; and fertility treatments for cancer patients.

TMC Fertility also helps medical tourists with making arrangements for a visit to their centres, from airport transfers to interpretation and facilitating accommodation arrangements. They may also offer personalised travel plans to better accommodate a multitude of considerations that medical tourists may have.

Subang Jaya Medical Centre (SJMC)

SJMC is the flagship hospital of the Ramsay Sime Darby Healthcare (RSDH) group, which consists of a network of four private hospitals in Malaysia, three in Indonesia, and a dedicated surgical care centre in Hong Kong. SJMC recently won six awards at the Global Health Asia-Pacific Awards 2021, including ‘Best Hospital of the Year’ for its second consecutive year, a testament to its growing commitment to “comprehensive and complex care in all specialities”. More recently, it has also won the Frost & Sullivan Asia Pacific Best Practices Award for “2022 Malaysia Best Hospital Company of The Year”.

SJMC’s facilities cover almost every known medical discipline, from geriatric care to oncological treatments and even pathology. They use the latest medical technology to facilitate their provision of medical services to its clients, including the use of the BrainLab Airo Mobile Intraoperative CT scanner system. This system is a “portable, high-definition imaging system”. As part of its Brain Suite, a state-of-the-art neurological treatment centre, SJMC is able to deliver highly precise and clinically safe neurological treatments, while improving surgical efficiency and minimising both surgical risks and overall surgery time.

SJMC is also a participant of various clinical trials that are conducted in the country. Their website outlines with meticulous detail the requirements for conducting clinical trials in their hospital. As part of this, they also have equally stringent requirements for reviewing potential clinical research, making sure that ethical concerns are properly addressed and all potential participants are guaranteed their privacy and safety throughout the study.

SJMC also provides a dedicated International Patient Care (IPC) suite of services, ranging from medical arrangements (appointment schedulings, bill estimations, etc.), to highly personalised concierge services (such as visa application and extensions, accommodation arrangements, etc.).

Penang Adventist Hospital

One of the oldest hospitals in Malaysia, Penang Adventist Hospital was established in 1924, and has a distinguished track record throughout the years. It is part of the wider International Adventist Network that comprises over 600 not-for-profit hospitals, clinics and dispensaries around the world. Penang Adventist Hospital has a number of accreditations that demonstrate its medical excellence, including the lauded Joint Commission International (JCI) accreditation, which it received in 2007.

Penang Adventist Hospital is home to ten centres of excellence, encompassing fields such as cardiology, oncology, renal care, and even a dedicated centre for thorough health screenings. Other medical specialisations that Penang Adventist Hospital offers include neurology, paediatrics, multidisciplinary approaches for lung cancer, and ancillary services such as physiotherapy and diagnostic imaging.

Penang Adventist also offers a number of community services that aim to assist people towards taking better control of their health. As such, they hold basic nutrition counselling sessions, diabetes management, and various other outreach projects (such as public health talks).

The hospital also has various services for medical tourists, much like the others featured in this list. Services include complimentary airport transfers; special accommodation rates; and in-house interpreters for those who speak Japanese or Indonesian. External interpreters can be requested for other languages, such as Vietnamese or Arabic. For those who are Malaysian permanent residents, Penang Adventist Hospital offers special privileges by being part of their WAW Family membership service. WAW Family offers a host of member benefits, such as various discounts on the hospital’s room rates and various other services.

Beverly Wilshire Medical Centre

Part of Beverly JCG Ltd based in Singapore, there are two Beverly Wilshire Medical Centres and three licensed clinics in Malaysia. Beverly Wilshire specialises as an integrated beauty medical centre, with a team of highly qualified specialists that cover “Cosmetic Surgery, Aesthetic Medicine, Healthy Ageing” and other related services. Beverly Wilshire is also the recipient of the International Medical Travel Journal’s 2018 “International Cosmetic Surgery Clinic of the Year” award.

Beverly Wilshire’s expertise in cosmetic and aesthetic modification is reflected in its suite of treatments available. This ranges from cosmetic surgery to enhance a person’s physical appearance, correct defects or structural problems, and treat various conditions such as acne and sensitive skin. Beverly Wilshire also covers hair transplant procedures for those going through hair loss, as well as a number of dentistry-related services at its dedicated dental centre.

Beverly Wilshire’s commitment to medical tourists can be seen in its special offerings. Medical tourists can opt to purchase a personalised cosmetic tourism plan, whether it may be for any of their available services. The package includes fees for treatment and facilities; consumables & medications used in treatment; and even overnight stay (with meals) between one to three nights at their dedicated luxury suite. Beverly Wilshire also offers special partner privileges at partner hotels, should a medical tourist prefer that instead.

Which Should You Choose?

Ultimately, which hospital you pick for your medical treatment is really up to you. Each of the listed medical institutions take pride in delivering timely, effective and safe healthcare to all of its clients. Their ability to also take into consideration the needs and desires of medical tourists from abroad is a demonstration of commitment to their mission of delivering quality care for all.

Take the time to do a little extra research of your own; make some calls, or send emails instead, to make enquiries on specific services available. As an example, if you are seeking fertility treatment options, you could consider TMC Fertility – or even look at SJMC as they also provide fertility treatments thanks to their wide medical expertise. If the hospital is able to accommodate your needs, or even tailor it to better fit your needs, then great! Otherwise, there is no harm in looking elsewhere for options.

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About the Writer
Calvyn Ee
Calvyn is an aspiring author, poet and storyteller. He spends his time reading, gaming and building stories with his action figure photography.
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