Positioning Malaysia Favourably

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By Dr G Ruslan Nazaruddin Simanjuntak

With the reopening of Malaysian borders, we are sure to see several sectors such as tourism, hospitality and aviation work toward their recovery phase. One such sector that promises recovery and growth for the national economy on the reopening of borders is healthcare travel. 
In 2019, Malaysia welcomed 1.2 million healthcare travellers, recording RM1.7 billion in health tourism revenue.
According to the Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC), over the years, Malaysia has become a preferred healthcare destination for patients seeking treatments related to fertility, cardiology, oncology, neurology, orthopaedics, premium health screening and Hepatitis-C.
Much of the success that the nation has seen in terms of growth in our healthcare travel market can be attributed to Malaysia’s experienced medical experts, availability of state-of-the-art technology, high-quality treatment options and seamless end-to-end patient care. 
The reopening of borders for healthcare travellers signals further optimistic growth for the country’s illustrious healthcare market. 
In the past years, Malaysia has gained a reputation for becoming the region’s hub for fertility, oncology, and cardiology treatments. As the country positions itself to become a global healthcare leader, it is time for the industry to showcase the country’s expertise in other niche medical specialties including orthopaedic treatments. 

Dr G Ruslan Nazaruddin Simanjuntak, Consultant Orthopaedic, Arthritis & Sports Surgeon from ALTY Orthopaedic Hospital.
Dr G Ruslan Nazaruddin Simanjuntak, Consultant Orthopaedic, Arthritis & Sports Surgeon from ALTY Orthopaedic Hospital. Image supplied.

Delayed electives and a sedentary lifestyle have contributed to the rise of Orthopaedic associated conditions in Malaysia and APAC

Chronic pain is one of the most critical problems that is seen within the APAC region. In fact, 20 per cent of global chronic pain cases arise from orthopaedic conditions such as osteoarthritis (OA). In Malaysia, one in three people over the age of 55 years suffer from OA pain. This is followed by musculoskeletal discomfort typically related to our shoulders, neck and lower back region. 
The incidence of orthopaedic conditions, especially in young adults, has also increased during the pandemic as the majority of us got comfortable working from home. Poor posture, long hours in front of the screen and several other factors have contributed to this rise. 
A study published by the International Journal of Health Sciences and Research reported that 70.5 per cent of participants between 18-65 years who were working from home reported discomfort and pain, especially in the lower back and neck region. With a growing ageing population and a sedentary lifestyle, the incidence of orthopaedic conditions within the APAC region is only expected to rise. 
Along with changing lifestyle habits, the global pandemic has also added to this burden. For example, in Malaysia more than 90 per cent orthopaedic cases were cancelled or postponed due to the anxiety surrounding the pandemic. Delayed assessments, lack of testing, reluctance in obtaining the right consultation and low levels of physical activities are likely to have consequences on patients’ health, both immediate and far-reaching. 
As part of the healthcare industry, it therefore becomes important to equip ourselves to effectively manage this rise and ensure that patients receive the right medical care and attention on their journey towards recovery and better health. 

The single specialty model and investments in sophisticated technology are cornerstones to Malaysia’s positioning as a hub for orthopaedic treatments in APAC

While the COVID-19 pandemic has led to disruptions in the healthcare industry, it has also opened several new discussions around better patient management and effective operation practices to ensure industry sustainability. 
This has created a catalyst for healthcare practitioners to move into a single specialty hospital set up that allows hospitals to be nimble and optimise their performance, while delivering top quality patient care. Moving beyond the narrative of the pandemic, single specialty hospitals are acquiring a unique position of accountability, affordability and agility thereby garnering greater interest from healthcare professionals and patients alike. 
In Malaysia, we are now seeing a rise in single specialty hospitals that are focused on providing niche healthcare treatments across several fields including fertility, cardiology and even orthopaedics. Not only do single specialty hospitals create a total ecosystem of care, but they also strengthen doctor-patient relationships, empowering the patient to oversee their wellness journey. 
For example, at ALTY Orthopaedic Hospital, we specialise in managing conditions of the joints, spines and muscles. Our focus on orthopaedics ensures that our dedicated healthcare professionals from consultants to nurses are trained to cater to patients with orthopaedic conditions, right from patient registration to post-surgical care. Being focused on a single specialty, we are also able to recruit top doctors and specialists and create an overall infrastructure that ensures each patient we work with experiences the best in-class patient care. 
Providing dedicated care for joint and spine health, we are also able to invest in world class imaging and diagnostics technology. 
With this regard, ALTY Orthopaedic Hospital recently acquired the first ever EOS imaging system in Malaysia, an advanced 2D/3D imaging system dedicated to adult and paediatric patients with orthopaedic and osteoarticular pathologies. The hospital has also invested in Malaysia’s first-ever weight-bearing Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), also known as the tilting MRI. 
This imaging technology not only gives more comfort to patients with joint and spine discomfort but also a more precise outcome for diagnosis and further treatment. 
A similar shift in operations and investments in advanced technology is seen across several orthopaedic establishments in Malaysia, making the country a choice destination for orthopaedic treatments for conditions like arthritis, osteoporosis, scoliosis, sports injuries and similar. 
Coupled with expert rehabilitation programmes that are already well established in the country, patients can experience a holistic model of care and recovery at the World’s Healthcare Marvel. 

About the author: Dr G Ruslan Nazaruddin Simanjuntak is the Consultant Orthopaedic, Arthritis and Sports Surgeon from ALTY Orthopaedic Hospital. This is an opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of this publication.

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