The ROC Government officially began permitting mainland tourists to enter Taiwan for the purpose of seeking medical care as of January 2, 2012. In a bid to further develop Taiwan’s healthcare industry and encourage Chinese medical tourists to visit the country, the Department of Health approved 30 hospitals to apply directly to the National Immigration Agency (NIA) for medical treatment visas on behalf of their prospective patients.
Representing a major breakthrough in the promotion of Taiwan’s medical tourism, hospitals and clinics are now able to invite Chinese nationals to receive health checkups, medical treatments and cosmetic surgery procedures in Taiwan. After initially extending permission for individual travel to Taiwan for Chinese tourists from Beijing, Shanghai and Xiamen last June, eight more mainland cities—Tianjin, Nanjing, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Chengdu, Chongqing, Jinan and Xi’an—are expected to be added to the individual travel list in March. With the increase in cross-strait interactions and relaxing of policies, Taiwan is expected to attract a growing number of medical service seekers from outside the island.
Following the relaxation of various cross-strait policies, the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA), one of the major promoters of Taiwan’s medical tourism, has stepped up its partnership with hospitals and clinics that offer medical services to overseas patients. Hospitals in Taipei, such as Shin Kong Memorial Hospital and Mackay Memorial Hospital, as well as in central Taiwan, such as Tungs’ Taichung MetroHarbor Hospital and Chang Bing Show Chwan Health Park, have all been collaborating with TAITRA and have received applications for medical visas from various parts of China.
Shin Kong Hospital has submitted a number of successful visa applications to the NIA on behalf of their patients. Chang Bing Show Chwan Health Park arranged for a group of Urumqi tourists to travel to Taiwan for a three-day advanced health checkup in mid-February. Mackay Memorial Hospital and Tungs’ Taichung MetroHarbor Hospital are also committed to taking medical requests from China.
Why they are traveling to Taiwan
It has become common for Chinese tourists traveling in Taiwan for business and leisure to take advantage of the sophisticated medical treatments, health checkups and cosmetic surgery procedures during their stay.
In addition to receiving advanced checkups involving state-of-the-art PET/CT and MRI scans—which are especially popular among mainland tourists—Taiwan’s friendly environment and helpful specialists have impressed mainland medical service seekers even more.
Patients who have experienced Taiwan’s medical services firsthand often describe their experience similarly: “Taiwanese nurses and doctors are friendly and kind and go out of their way to help you feel at home when seeking treatment.” Medical services in Taiwan are not only affordable and efficient, but they also boast an environment on par with 5-star resorts.
Furthermore, because Taiwan lies just off the coast of China, the two regions have many similarities in terms of language, food, habits, customs and culture, making communication easy between the two sides. These advantages make Taiwan an ideal overseas destination for mainland Chinese seeking healthcare services.
In addition to its high-quality services and environment, Taiwan’s medical technology is very much up to global standards. For instance, the first successful heart transplant in Asia was performed in Taiwan. The success rate of coronary stents is as high as 99 percent with a complication rate below 1 percent. I
n the area of liver transplants, Taiwan’s five-year survival rate has surpassed that of the United States. The medical team here boasts the best performance in living donor transplants in the world. The first craniofacial center in Southeast Asia was also established in Taiwan in 1987.
The team of professionals has received international recognition with a 100 percent success rate in cleft lip and palate treatment. Furthermore, Taiwan is highly experienced in joint replacement, with almost 20,000 cases performed on a yearly basis.
These are minimally invasive procedures that have the benefits of minimal incisions, speedy recovery and low infection rates. Most importantly, the cost savings of a joint replacement in Taiwan are about 90 percent compared to the U.S. Heart bypass surgery costs about 80 percent less than in the U.S.
With state-of-the-art technology, advanced equipment, high-quality service and competitive pricing, Taiwan’s medical care is internationally competitive. To prepare themselves for global medical service seekers and to gain patient trust, 13 hospitals have been accredited by Joint Commission International (JCI), the gold standard in international healthcare.
The launching of visas for medical purposes for mainland visitors in 2012 represents a strong push for the development of international medical services in Taiwan. TAITRA will continue to organize medical tourism exhibitions and trade missions in mainland China to promote Taiwan’s healthcare industry and increase the visibility of medical tourism worldwide.
TAITRA will also help introduce Taiwanese medical institutions and tourism agencies to medical tourism insurance agencies in Mainland China, Europe and North America to attract more prospective medical visitors to Taiwan. With these joint efforts and advantages, it is believed that 2012 will be a fruitful year for Taiwan’s healthcare industry.