HEALTHCARE | Staff Reporter, Singapore

Singapore hospitals are losing foreign patients

RMF, for one, hit a single-digit drop in non-local patients.

Whilst Singapore still remains a compelling medical tourist destination, foreign patient growth may decelerate gradually as competitive pressures from neighbouring ASEAN countries grow.

According to UOB Kay Hian, this can be seen in the patient mix of healthcare players in Singapore.

"For instance, IHH has seen a shift in patient mix over the past years. In 2013, local: foreign patient mix stood at 60:40 but has since shifted to 70:30. Separately, we observed RMG has seen a slowdown in medical tourism in the past years, with the group estimated to record a low single-digit drop (in %) in foreign patient inflow in its latest 1Q17 results," UOB Kay Hian analyst Thai Wei Ying and Andrew Chow explained.

Going forward, the analysts are expecting patient growth to stem largely from local patients, underpinned by favourable demographic trends such as ageing demographics as well as rising income levels.

"Moreover, we continue to expect spillover effects from public hospital, taking into consideration that bed occupancy rate in public hospitals still remained very elevated (82%-97% based on latest data v 60-70% at private hospitals), even exceeding the standard levels (82-85%) by Australian Medical Association and Australasian College of Emergency Medicine," the analysts said.

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