Author: Medical Tourism Magazine
Medical Tourism Magazine interviewed Alan R. Kahn, Vice President of Marketing and Communications for United Family Healthcare in Beijing to learn more about the medical tourism industry in China and what a patient would want to know when exploring this fascinating destination.
In China, we are seeing a growth in patient numbers who seek all types of different procedures ranging from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to Orthopedics. Beijing is an ultra-modern, world-class city that continues to boom after hosting the 2008 Olympics, and Shanghai is arguably the most dynamic city in the world.” Kahn said. In reality Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong (SAR), and other such hotspots certainly are the standard when one thinks of warmer destinations with beaches and natural places to recover from illness. Therefore, it is likely that Southeast Asia will continue to be the region’s leader in medical tourism in the foreseeable future.
The main Beijing United Family Hospital is located in Beijing’s Lido area northeast of the city. Beijing United Family Hospitals and Clinics (BJU), the flagship facility of China’s first and largest foreign-invested international healthcare group, United Family Healthcare (UFH), is one of China’s only two truly full-service international standard hospitals — the other is its sister, Shanghai United Family Hospital and Clinics (SHU). BJU has internationally recognized and certified doctors from 15 different countries and regions, including the U.S., U.K., Australia, Belgium, China, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Canada, and a fully English-speaking, 180-strong nursing staff treating patients from over 110 countries every month.
A full-service, 50-bed, inpatient and outpatient facility, the United Family Shunyi Clinic is a satellite facility that provides family medicine and dental services in Beijing’s Shunyi villa area near Beijing’s airport. In addition, the United Family Liangma Clinic in Beijing’s new No. 3 Embassy area is located behind the U.S. Embassy and provides primary care services. The United Family Jianguomen Health and Wellness Center provides several governments like the United States, Australia and Spain with health-check services for thousands of Chinese traveling abroad in addition to other community care. The newly opened United Family New Hope Oncology Center, located only a few blocks from the main hospital next to a park, is China’s first state-of-the-art cancer treatment center. It provides a unique, multidisciplinary effort in a comfortable environment and is designed to improve the quality of life for each patient receiving day treatment. It is China’s first medical facility built to the U.S Green Building Council’s LEED standards of environmental sustainability. In fact, the ribbon was recently cut by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, Gary Locke, during the opening ceremony.
With unmatched quality of care at all our inpatient and outpatient facilities, BJU is proud to be recognized by the Chinese government, the U.S. government and international medical groups alike as the clear exemplary leader in China’s private healthcare field. Since opening in 1997, BJU has become the healthcare provider of choice for thousands of families in Beijing due to its emphasis on patient-centered quality care. With the highest standards in medical practices and management, we ensure that patients are pampered. We offer premium, single-bed VIP services, highly trained staff from Korea, Japan, Russia, China, Europe and elsewhere, and a range of other detailed service practices similar to those of five-star hotels. In early 2011, BJU will triple in size and become a 100-bed, ultra-modern medical facility that will greatly expand in capabilities and services for patients in Beijing.
Please tell us more about UFH in China and treatment opportunities for medical tourists.
Beijing United Family Hospital is a full-service hospital and a pioneering, international standard healthcare organization in China whose sole mission is to provide comprehensive, integrated healthcare services in a uniquely warm and caring patient and family service-oriented environment.
- Dentistry, Orthodontics and Implants
- Dermatology and Laser skin care
- ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat)
- Integrative Medicine, including Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)
- Nutrition & Wellness consultation
- Naturopathic medicine
- Smoking cessation program
- Radiology/Imaging including the latest CT scanners, digital X-ray ultrasound equipment
What is the role Beijing UFH will take within the medical tourism industry?
To date, Beijing United Family Hospital has been a medical destination for patients from areas in East Asia where premium medical care is unavailable, such as eastern Russia, Mongolia, Khazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, some South Asian countries and elsewhere in the region. Additionally, the majority of our patients continue to come from Beijing’s expatriate community, representing over 110 different countries and living, working or studying in China for short or more permanent stays.
We often provide medical services for visiting U.S. delegations such as the White House and U.S. government whenever American presidents come to China. We are also the designated medical facility for the National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball, National Football League, international television stations, Hollywood movie productions teams, several petroleum companies and a host of other Western organizations when they visit, perform or carry out long-term projects in China. BJU has a membership database that includes direct agreements with hundreds of multinational corporations, as well as partners like International SOS and dozens of the world’s top insurance companies like BUPA, Blue Cross, Cigna and Aetna, with which we have direct billing arrangements.
As one of the few hospitals in China possessing Joint Commission International Accreditation, UFH’s commitment to offer world-class services to international patients is quite clear. How did you reach the decision to pursue such accreditation and what do you believe are the top benefits from this accomplishment?
Obtaining JCI accreditation ensures patients that we at UFH have a commitment to improve constantly the quality of patient care and recognizes us for having the highest level of excellence in regards to patient care and safety.
BJU was the first hospital in China to be accredited by JCI in 2005. Currently, together with Shanghai United Family Hospital, it comprises China’s only accredited quality healthcare network. The goal of UFH is to be at the very pinnacle of quality medical service in Asia by offering the best in international standard care; JCI accreditation is a tremendous measure of our efforts.
One of the biggest concerns of expatriates coming to China is the availability of quality healthcare. With our JCI accreditation, they are given considerable piece of mind. UFH is often the first point of contact for many embassies and multinational companies once they determine our service level, and JCI accreditation speeds this assessment process. We also see benefits when working with international insurance companies that quickly recognize the effort we put into receiving such accreditation.
Government support is an essential part of a destination’s success in offering their services to international patients. How is the Chinese Government reacting toward medical tourism and UFH’s involvement in medical tourism?
The Chinese healthcare scene is changing rapidly this year as the Chinese Government is undergoing a massive three-year healthcare reform process, committing hundreds of billions of U.S. dollars to improving healthcare throughout the farthest reaches of the country. Getting basic healthcare services to 1.3 billion people is the goal. It is not an easy task to anticipate the growth pattern of the medical tourism industry in China for the following reasons: China’s State Council (or cabinet) has just officially encouraged the development of private healthcare, the government is improving the social healthcare system, and the United Family is being used as model for which private healthcare facilities can emulate.
We do recognize that several local governments, such as the Shanghai city government, are very keen on promoting medical tourism on a grand scale. While Beijing UFH continues to consider all possibilities in terms of the latest medical service offerings for patients, our main focus is on developing the very best patient-centered, premium-quality care hospitals and facilities to all of our patients as a whole. This alone helps naturally to draw people in Asia to us as they seek the level of trust, care and expertise we bring in treating them.
What procedures are most sought after by patients who travel to you for treatment?
We are the only 24/7 International Emergency Room service provider in China, so many tourists and travelers come to us instead of leaving the country. Patients also look to us for treating Trauma and difficult Orthopedic maladies. In addition, our top-notch Primary Care is a very popular service among many Asian executives, seeking preventative, wellness treatment and diagnostics through our thorough Executive Health Check-Ups. Additionally, our Pediatric team is renowned throughout the region. We also receive a large number of international cases, as parents wish to have our experienced physicians treat their children.
Are you offering the same services to Chinese residents and medical tourists? If not, how is it different?
Yes, no matter where they are from, all our patients are treated with the same level of quality, personalized care. We have excelled at understanding the cultural sensitivities of patients from different backgrounds. We also offer a number of personalized services to our foreign patients to facilitate their stay at our hospital, such as helping them extend visas, arrange travel and receive translations.
Which nationalities are you seeing the most? Any particular reasons for that?
In terms of medical tourists, the answers are Mongolian, Russian, Kazakhstani, etc.
In terms of expatriates, American, Canadian, British, Australian, and German patients make up a significant portion of our patient base. However, we monthly have patients from places like Zambia, Fiji, Bulgaria and over 100 other countries, as they are part of diplomatic corporations or multinational companies working here.
What is the difference between UFH in China and a hospital in the U.S.?
There is very little difference in terms of management and standard practices in many of the best hospitals in the U.S. However, there are tremendous differences in terms of the level of care we can afford to give patients by capitalizing on the economic advantages of a place like China. As one of the top premium care facilities in the world, United Family hospitals actually offer a standard of patient care that is rarely found in hospitals in most U.S. cities, with an inpatient nurse to patient ratio of 1 to 2 at times. Our nurses, all English-speaking, are mostly trained abroad in places like Australia, Singapore and Canada, and then choose to come back to China to practice. Our patient services staff members are at patients’ beck-and-call, and our medical staff is deeply experienced in satisfying patients and has the very best bedside manner for people from 110 different countries and cultures.
One thing China has is people, and we take advantage of this for the benefit of our patients. This means that our Chinese doctors have had to go through rigorous training and beat out competition to get to the very highest levels of Chinese medicine. This is before they then chose to practice with us. More and more international physicians are willing to come to China. We can afford to have much more staff, and our arrangement with the medical products division of our company ensures we have top level equipment.
Our prices, therefore, can still come in at the 70th percentile of the top 100 U.S. hospital pricing, while in most cases offering a much more personalized and higher level of service.
What are your goals for the future regarding medical tourism?
The main goal is to continue improving our quality and personalized care while maintaining a value in the prices offered at other facilities throughout the world, making it more appealing to international patients to seek treatment in China. We also are looking carefully at developing offerings in areas such as stem cell research, functional medicine, wellness, fertilization, genomics and other areas that are increasingly sought after by people across the region and in the West. We see great potential for regional medical tourism in fields. Finally, we are being proactive in outbound tourism; emergency medicine, wellness and preventative check-ups and other premium services, as they are increasingly sought after by Chinese traveling abroad.
Beijing United Family Hospital and Clinics is a member of the Medical Tourism Association™ and for more information you may visit www.ufh.com.cn. n
Beijing United Family Hospital and Clinics (BJU)
(In Chinese “Beijing Hemujia Yiyuan”)
Address: #2 Jiangtai Lu, Chaoyang District, Beijing, CHINA 100016
Tel: +86 (10) 5927-7000 / For Emergencies: +86 (10) 5927-7120 / Email: [email protected]