The Kingdom is the world’s No 1 destination for medical tourism, renowned for personal and affordable service and world-class, cutting-edge facilities and treatment
By Wanida Tardivel & Luxury Society Asia Team
Thailand’s hospitals and clinics are like the five-star hotels of the medical industry. There are over 36 JCI internationally accredited hospitals in the country, boasting a wide range of doctors and specialists trained and certified abroad. Appointments are easy to come by, and the costs are affordable compared to the West. It’s no wonder overseas patients dropped US$3 billion into the Land of Smiles’ economy last year, making it the No 1 destination for medical tourism in the world.
Recovery rooms are spacious, and Thai medical staff are known for being sincere and gracious, putting cultural hospitality to good practice. Thailand’s tropical weather and gorgeous scenery are also well suited to speedy recoveries, leading many patients to spring for an island getaway or resort stay after they’re discharged. Hospitals can also organize nursing care to accompany patients in the days after, for those who worry they’ll need extra help getting back on their feet.
Thailand’s medical industry goes hand in hand with its wellness culture, including internationally acclaimed spas and health resorts remotely tucked away in nature. Aromatherapy and body scrubs made from local herbs take the stress out of recuperation. Not to mention Thai cuisine, which is fresh and nutritious, from soothing fruit juices to organic fruits and vegetables that help to bring the body back to full strength. Crystal seawater is not only easy on the eyes, it can also provide vitamins and minerals with fantastic healing properties.
If you’re looking to take advantage of Thailand’s first-class medical industry, you needn’t do all the planning and research yourself either. There are companies that can help facilitate patients’ journeys, from air travel to visas, right down to that luxurious recovery. Health tourism providers work as intermediaries, coordinating with hospitals and other organizations to help you feel perfectly at ease. Patients have a choice between being directly involved in the process of choosing doctors and specialists or simply showing up for consultation and surgery, whatever makes them feel more comfortable.
Whether heading in for a routine check-up or choosing to go under the knife, we rounded up the best hospitals and clinics you may want to visit.
Bumrungrad International Hospital
Bumrungrad International is Southeast Asia’s largest private hospital and Asia’s first JCI internationally approved hospital. Despite being a million-square-foot complex, it’s not hard to find your way around. Staff and personnel are warm and friendly, and stationed everywhere to help the 1.1 million annual visitors find their way.
There are 1,200 full-time and consulting physicians on staff, many of whom have been certified overseas in countries like Australia and Germany, making it Thailand’s most shining multi-speciality facility. There are over 38 speciality centres and clinics in total, including dental, cosmetic surgery, orthopaedics and more. After a recent US$12 million renovation, Bumrungrad is also home to facilities with a slick modern design and the latest technology, including image-guided radiotherapy used for treating cancer, advanced diagnostics and a variety of therapies.
BNH is one of Thailand’s most successful private hospitals and an important part of local history, starting out in 1898 as Bangkok’s first clinic for expats in a blossoming capital. It was among Southeast Asia’s first hospitals to offer a Western approach to medicine and remains one of the most popular choices for international and expat patients today.
Its recovery rooms are known for being luxurious, boasting sky-high city views and top amenities, from refrigerators to dining tables and satellite TV. The hospital also prides itself on being a facility of “family doctors”, where physicians really get to know their clients, from consultation to treatment and after-care. BNH is also particularly famous for its spine centre, the most comprehensive in all of Thailand, offering innovative treatments with mildly invasive, specialized equipment.
This upmarket hospital group has five hospitals and more than 20 outreach clinics across Thailand. It deals in a wide range of specialities, but it’s most famous for its neonatal and infant care, with Bangkok’s Samitivej International Children’s Hospital being Thailand’s only private children’s hospital.
It’s home to a renowned Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), both featuring the latest instruments in paediatric surgery technology. The Women’s Health Centre deals with birth plans, in-vitro fertilization and counselling. Certified by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) as a mother and baby-friendly hospital, Samitivej is the perfect choice when it comes to family planning.
Yanhee Hospital is Thailand’s top facility for chasing beauty, offering a wide range of cosmetic and plastic surgery procedures, from facelifts to tummy tucks and breast implants. Its cosmetic surgeons are well known for skilful and delicate workmanship, completing makeovers from head to toe.
The best example are the sexual reassignment procedures performed here. These are among the most complex of any surgeries because of the high number of operations required. Yanhee also features an onsite cosmetic dental surgery and dental clinic and consultations in alternative medicine such as hyperbaric oxygen therapy and acupuncture.
Bangkok Hospital was one of Thailand’s first private medical institutions and is one of its largest private hospital networks today. It has 13 locations spread out around the country, in destinations like Phuket, Chiang Mai, Ko Samui, Hua Hin and Pattaya. With such convenient locations, it’s really the perfect choice for combining a beach or mountain holiday with medical treatment.
The hospital offers a range of transportation, from van to limousine, to pick up patients and whisk them away to relaxed and dreamy locations once they’ve been discharged. The hospital also offers a fast-track service, which includes a staff member to escort you swiftly through customs and immigration queues.
Medical emergencies can happen at any time. There are occasions when a patient may need to be evacuated to a regional hospital for specialized or acute treatment that is not available locally. VIP Jets Ltd now offer MedEvac flight services throughout Southeast Asia. The company recently installed a modern medical life support and stretcher system by Spectrum Aeromed.
The aerial medical evacuation service is available at short notice to evacuate patients from hospitals in Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Bangladesh, India, Bhutan, Vietnam and Southern China to the best hospitals in either Bangkok or Singapore.
Medical Wings, the air ambulance division of Siam Land Flying Company in Bangkok, has become the first Asian operator to achieve the CAMTS standard from the US-based Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transportation Systems. As well as being the first operator in Asia to achieve the CAMTS standard, Medical Wings is one of only eight operators outside the US to hold this accreditation.
Medical Wings operates four aircraft in air ambulance configuration, including Hawker 800XP/850XP and Super King Air 350s. These fully pressurized aircraft provide patients with the optimum environment for medical transport and are equipped with state-of-the-art equipment. The qualified medical teams carry all the appropriate certifications in Aviation Medicine, Emergency Medicine and Paediatric Critical Care Transport. Medical Wings provides fast and dependable air ambulance services to destinations throughout Southeast Asia and beyond, operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week.