Seventeen large hospitals in Taiwan formally launched an association on June 25 to jointly explore the health care market in countries targeted by the government's New Southbound Policy.
The association, which includes National Taiwan University Hospital, Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Taipei Veterans General Hospital and Mackay Memorial Hospital, came into being at a ceremony in Taipei.
The initiative revolves around the Ministry of Health and Welfare's "one center, one country plan," according to Shih Chung-liang, the head of the ministry's Department of Medical Affairs.
Under the plan unveiled earlier this month, six Taiwanese medical centers or large hospitals have been chosen to set up partnerships with India, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand and help build medical exchanges with them.
Each Taiwanese hospital will gauge demand for medical services in the country it is partnered with, train medical workers, provide health consulting services, and help build an environment conducive to good medical care, according to the plan unveiled earlier this month.
The hospitals will also try to attract people in those countries to get checkups or other medical care in Taiwan, according to the plan.
Members of the association will be responsible for implementing the plan, which Shih said will still require relaxing relevant laws, including incorporating "remote diagnoses" into the scope of international medical services local hospitals can provide.
Taiwan has already amended regulations on training foreign health professionals and referring them to appropriate teaching hospitals, allowing medical professionals from target countries to receive practical, on-the-job training in Taiwan, Shih said.
Under the previously announced "one center, one country plan," each of the six big hospitals will invest US$167,500 to explore opportunities in their partner country, hoping to double revenues of patients from foreign countries receiving medical care in Taiwan from the current NT$15 billion to NT$30 billion per year.
They also hope to boost exports of medicines and medical devices by 20 percent, according to the plan.
According to Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) President and CEO Walter Yeh, more than 305,000 international patients received health care in Taiwan last year, and a third came from Southeast Asia, showing that Taiwanese hospitals already have good bases in that market.
The organizers did not specify the obligations of the 11 hospitals added to the previous group of six or their potential financial commitments.
The New Southbound Policy seeks to strengthening relations with Southeast and South Asian nations, Australia and New Zealand.
Source: FOCUS TAIWAN
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