Healthcare groups tackle the recession


Healthcare providers are not recession-proof, as the two major players in Singapore illustrate.

At Raffles Medical Group, revenue continued to grow but the speed of growth has dropped.

Parkway Holdings, the city-state’s biggest private hospital operator, suffered a seven to eight percent decline in foreign patients in 2008 and the pace of growth slowing. It successfully achieved revenue growth by targeting foreign patients in new markets, such as Bangladesh, the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Pakistan and Russia. The result is double-digit growth in revenue and admissions from these foreign patients at the Singapore hospitals.

Parkway and Raffles are the two biggest private hospital groups in Singapore. Both have robust operating margins, brand equity and a more diversified patient base than a decade ago.

Both groups have been taking steps to deal with the downturn in business. Parkway has cut headcount and slashed senior management salaries. Raffles has been keeping its staff costs stable and with a new international marketing head - Singapore Tourism Board healthcare services director Jason Yap, it appears to favour tackling the situation by increasing demand, particularly for the complex cases which offer higher average revenue per patient.

Neither is sitting back and waiting for business, they are marketing in targeted countries, promoting high- value medicine rather than the low-cost approach of most rivals, and if people overseas will not come to them, are taking healthcare provision to them.  

Raffles Medical Group has hospitals in Hongkong and representative offices in Indonesia, Vietnam and Bangladesh. ParkwayHealth has 15 hospitals around the region, including in Brunei, India and Malaysia. plus 45 International Patient Assistance Centres across the globe including Bangladesh, Brunei, Canada, China, Hongkong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and Vietnam.



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