The Indonesian government is planning to develop medical tourism in the country so as to revive the pandemic-hit tourism sector, while at the same time, strengthening the public health system resilience.
Sandiaga Uno, minister of tourism and creative economy, said 15 class A and class B hospitals in Greater Jakarta, Bali and Medan will be piloted for the development.
“Our hospitals are not inferior to (those) overseas. Eka Hospital, for example, is the only hospital in South-east Asia to have German-made medical equipment for spine treatment,” he said.
Other hospitals he cited as examples included Mayapada Hospital that excels at curing neurological disorders and Siloam Hospitals that specialises in providing brain-related health services.
While the goal is to attract the international markets, the government will initially tap the domestic segment, particularly the affluent outbound medical travellers whose total annual spending pre-Covid reached approximately US$11 billion, according to Sandiaga.
The government will focus promotions on “8+1”, which means eight most sought-after medical services plus one for medical check-up. They include treatments for eyes, heart, and weight loss, among others.
The 8+1 will be offered as part of medical tourism packages which will also include accommodation and transportation facilities provided by trade players. The packages will be launched in November, and the government will form the Indonesia Health Tourism Board to manage and organise the programme.
Ng Sebastian, managing director of Incito Vacations, said the greatest hurdle to advancing the medical tourism sector is the distrust towards medical systems due to the lack of hospitality in Indonesian hospitals.
Agreeing, Yento Chen, CEO of Destination Tour, urged Indonesian doctors to work towards increasing patient satisfaction across the healthcare sector by learning from their foreign counterparts who were willing to conduct longer consultations with patients to put them at ease.
Sebastian urged the government to ensure that the participating hospitals have gone digital in order to scrap issues like red tape bureaucracy.
He said: “If such issues are not immediately solved by the government, travel operators will find it difficult to sell the medical packages.”