If you’re considering travelling to Malaysia for medical tourism, read this article to make an informed choice about the best option for you or your loved one, along with some tips to help you become well-prepared for a seamless experience abroad.
Malaysia Ranked Top Destination For Medical Tourism
Now that our nation is reopening its borders in April 2022, we can expect a high volume of travellers to Malaysia in this endemic phase. This is no surprise as Malaysia is one of the most preferred travel destinations in the world, ranking 18th in most visited countries in 2020.
Beyond our natural attractions, cultural heritage and mouth-watering cuisines, Malaysia is also fast emerging as a strong competitor in the global health and medical tourism sector. In fact, we’re ranked top international medical tourism destination in a UK-based international medical travel journal, after attracting 1.3 million medical tourists in 2021.
To add to this, Malaysia now boasts one of the fastest vaccination rates in the world, with 79% of the population vaccinated. This makes it far easier for people to travel to Malaysia for medical treatment.
Medical Tourism: What There Is To Know
Medical tourism refers to people who travel abroad to another country to find medical treatment. In the past, people from less developed countries would travel the distance to well-developed countries to access better care options. However, the tables have turned in the recent years as more and more people are travelling to developing countries to get care for various needs.
Health tourism in Malaysia is divided into two main categories:
- Medical tourism: Medical treatments and procedures offered at internationally recognised hospitals and health facilities.
- Wellness programmes: Rehabilitation programmes, physiotherapy, spas, reflexology and massages.
Why People Opt for Medical Tourism in Malaysia
The motivation to travel to access medical care differs from person to person, but we’ve categories these into seven main reasons to choose medical tourism in Malaysia:
1. High Quality of Care:
Our world-class healthcare quality has and continues to open the floodgates for healthcare tourism. We offer highly-specialised medical treatment options and state-of-the-art healthcare facilities that are on par with highly developed countries. This is coupled with experienced medical experts who are fully equipped to meet patient demands.
All private institutions in Malaysia are also licensed under the Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998. Hence, travellers need not worry about the safety and reliability of the end-to-end patient experience provided.
2. Competitive Cost & Packages:
The cost of medical procedures or treatments can be relatively lower in Malaysia for a similar treatment in one’s own country or in neighbouring countries like Singapore and Australia. Foreigners can also enjoy world class infrastructure facilities with comfortable accommodation for a fraction of what they might pay in their home country.
Affordable medical package are provided in Malaysia, covering health screening, treatment, accommodation, transportation, and recreational activities. These cost-effective options are monitored using ceiling rates imposed by the Ministry of Health of Malaysia. This can help ease the burden of both local and international families, especially if they do not have insurance coverages.
3. Treatment Availability & Variety:
Medical tourism provides foreigners with better access to specialists and a range of treatments that are not widely available or not licensed in their own country. Some examples are organ transplantation, cosmetic surgery, fertility treatments and cancer treatments.
Malaysia itself has gained a reputation as the Asia region’s hub for cardiology, fertility, oncology and Hepatitis C treatments. She is home to more than 33 advanced heart treatment centres in the country, with advanced procedural techniques such as multi-slice computed tomography, endoscopic vein harvesting, and heart-assist devices.
4. Culture & Religion:
A multilingual environment that prioritises the religious requirements of its patients prompts many to seek medical treatment abroad.
Malaysia is the leading global halal hub and is expected to launch halal certification for drugs and medical devices in 2022. Not to mention the world class hospitality rendered by its people who can speak a plethora of languages. This can breach language and cultural barriers to make travellers feel at home.
5. Time Sensitivity:
You may be put on the waiting list for certain types of treatment in your native country. Seeking immediate medical care abroad allows an individual to save time and prevents his or her condition from potentially getting worse.
Foreigners can expect shorter waiting time compared to some countries that have an overburdened healthcare system. Furthermore, Malaysia is also accelerating her efforts to digitalise the healthcare industry by conducting tele-consultations to provide continuity in foreign patient care for those who are unable to travel.
- Wellness Programmes
Wellness packages are seeing an upward trend globally. It covers the physical, psychological or spiritual areas, giving you a holistic experience in your trip abroad.
Malaysia offers an impressive array of wellness programmes, leveraging on the natural resources widely available in Malaysia. Wellness-based activities that are gaining popularity here are spas, massages, fitness classes, and diet and weight management programmes.
Travellers with a bigger budget can kill two birds with one stone by going abroad for their procedure and extending their stay for a holiday.
From the modern metropolis to the beautiful tropical islands, you and your family can experience the best of both worlds in Malaysia. After a surgery, patients are encouraged to stay for some weeks to recover safely before flying back home. Accommodation can be easily booked on online booking platforms like Klook, Airbnb, Agoda, and LokaLocal.
Considerations In Medical Tourism
Travelling for medical reasons may come with a risk of complications that needs to be brought to light to anyone considering medical tourism:
Blood Clots and Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
Flying after surgery, such as a chest or abdominal surgery, can increase the risk for blood clots. This is because blood vessels can be damaged during surgery, which can lead to the development of a blood clot. Changes in atmospheric pressure and lack of oxygen when you’re up in the air may worsen your condition. If you’re not careful, you may develop deep vein thrombosis.
Other factors that increase this risk include weight (if you have a BMI of 30 or higher), age (if you are above the age of 40) and current health status (if you have had a stroke or cardiovascular disease).
Hence, experts suggest waiting it out for at least 10 days before you head home, but it is best to consult your doctor as this may differ from person to person. Consider extending your stay to minimise this risk.
Continuity of Care
Another thing to consider is the possibility of receiving follow-up care when you return to your own country. In the case where you’re unable to travel for whatever reason, you may not be able to continue maintaining your treatment and receipt of more advanced drugs that are not available in your home country.
For this reason, countries like Malaysia are working on providing an alternative for hospitals to go digital in their practice, that is, with tele-consultation services. While tele-consultation cannot replace in-person care procedures, it is still a useful alternative for those who would like to receive a second opinion before making the necessary arrangements.
Continued Care After Surgery With Homage
Thinking of travelling to Malaysia but need additional care assistance as your loved one recuperates from surgery?
From as low as one hour, you can request for personal or nursing care to make sure that your loved one is well taken care of during your vacation. Gain peace of mind with our Care Professionals who are well-equipped to support individuals needing post-surgery care or mobility support.
How To Prepare for Medical Tourism
Whether or not this is your first time, there are a number of things you need to do to ensure you are well-prepared and making the right decision.
Add these 5 things to your to-do list before you venture overseas for a medical treatment:
Get a pre-travel consultation
Speak to your local doctor to get a second opinion on your plans for medical care abroad. You can discuss anything from general information to the risks involved. Your local doctor is the best person to give you a recommendation for a reputable institution or some insights into your unique situation.
Research the provider or facility
Find out all the relevant information relating to the country, the medical institution and the treatment provided. This includes looking up information from the internet and having conversation with the institution of your choice.
Some questions you might ask are:
- Is the treatment available in your facility?
- What is the cost of the treatment?
- Is this treatment the best solution for me in my situation?
- When can I schedule an appointment?
- What is the duration of the medical procedure?
- How long is the recovery period?
- What arrangements can you assist with regarding medical tourism to Malaysia?
- What do I need to do on my own?
You can also get in touch with the Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC) to help you find a healthcare provider:
Contact relevant contacts
There are a number of VIPs you need to speak to and get a green light from before you travel to the other side of the world. For one, you’ll need the emotional and financial support that your family could give. Perhaps someone in the extended family can share their personal experience if they have had any.
Secondly, speak to your insurance provider on what can and cannot be reimbursed or claimed. Ask if you need to obtain international travel health insurance that covers medical evacuation.
Prepare your documents
Prepare all the necessary documents before you leave your country, including:
- Passport (valid for at least six months)
- Visa (check the requirements for your country)
- Identity card
- Vaccination passport
- A copy of your medical records
- Doctor’s referral letter
- Entry Approval Letter from MHTC
- COVID-19 PCR test results
- Copy of your insurance certificate (covering COVID-19)
- Any other supporting documents or agreements
If you’re travelling to Malaysia, the full guidelines for healthcare travellers can be found here. Need a COVID-19 swab test when you arrive in Malaysia? Book a pre-departure COVID-19 home swab test today!
Arrange for follow-up care
Where will you be staying after your procedure or surgery? It is a good idea to find accommodation that is nearby the healthcare facility. If you’re planning to stay longer, you can look up rehabilitation programmes and care services that are available in the area. If you’re heading back after your treatment, make sure you can secure your follow-up care in your home country.
Your loved one just got discharged from the hospital after surgery. What’s next?
Taking on the role of a caregiver after your loved one’s surgery can be challenging, especially if it’s your first time. Fret not, our Caregiver’s Guide to Post-Surgery Care can help you learn what to expect and how to provide care for your loved one post-surgery.
Homage offers a wide range of care services for different types of conditions to provide continued care following a stay at the hospital. This includes personal care, nursing care, post-surgery care, home therapy, and COVID-19 swab tests. Need professional assistance for your loved one? Our Care Professionals are trained, licensed and ready to help. Get in touch with our friendly Care Advisors for a free consultation.
For more information or to schedule a call, fill up the form below.
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- Habibu, S. (2020, January 11). Malaysia Ranked Top Destination For Medical Tourism. The Star. Retrieved from https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2020/01/11/malaysia-ranked-top-destination-for-medical-tourism
- Malaysia Healthcare. (2022). Traveller Guide For Entry Into Malaysia (Effective 1 April 2022 Onwards). Retrieved from https://malaysiahealthcare.org/traveller-guide-for-entry-into-malaysia-effective-1-april-2022-onwards/
- Malaysian Investment Development Authority. (2021). Telemedicine And Digital Health: A New Normal For Healthcare Providers. Retrieved from https://www.mida.gov.my/telemedicine-and-digital-health-a-new-normal-for-healthcare-providers/
- Ministry of Health of Malaysia. (1998). Laws of Malaysia: Act 586 Private Healthcare Facilities And Services Act 1998. Retrieved from https://www.moh.gov.my/index.php/database_stores/attach_download/317/27
- Ministry of Health of Malaysia. (2022, April 6). Vaccinations in Malaysia. Retrieved from https://covidnow.moh.gov.my/vaccinations/
- Watson, S. (2020, August 3). What You Should Know About Flying and Blood Clots. WebMD. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/dvt/flying-blood-clots
- World Population Review. (2020). Most Visited Countries 2020. Retrieved from https://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/most-visited-countries