What were the highlights of 2012 for Prince Court Medical Centre?

CHONG: Cancer services grew really rapidly, admittedly from a rather low base. We are one of the only two hospitals in this country that has a tomotherapy machine, which gives really targeted radiation to small tumors. We also had two oncologists joining us as well as a specialist in palliative medicine. So that really took off. A good and a bad was also seen in the fertility services, IVF. It was good for us but obviously it shows that there is a trend that fertility is becoming a problem in the country. But we also saw quite a lot of foreign nationals coming in and we've seen good pregnancy rates and good live births which is important. So those were two highlights. Our robotic surgery in urology and gynecology works also grew, that’s the da Vinci robot that does surgeries for prostate and hysterectomies. So really if you think about last year, those were the key highlights and I’m really hoping that it continues this year.

What were your patient numbers for 2012? What are your projections for 2013?

CHONG: Generally, patient numbers have grown. We've had a lot of babies. Last year was a good year for babies, both local and international. Prince Court is a little bit unusual; almost 30% of our patients are foreign because we are right in the middle of the Golden Triangle so there are a lot of expatriates that live around here. So they form that 30% and then an extra 5% are actual health travelers from overseas. Last year was a good growth and we expect to see that tick up again this year. We’re just getting better known in the region now. Year-on-year, 2011 to 2012, we really saw double digit growth in patient numbers and what we've seen in terms of international patients is growth in unusual markets such as Myanmar, Bangladesh, and even more unusual, Somalia and Libya. There seems to be quite a large expatriate population here who recommend the hospital. So we expect to see double digit growth again this year.

We’d like to be able to increase our expatriate population because I think that gives us a foothold in the market that is a bit more international and knows what it wants. We are in a really crowded marketplace and location wise, we are not really within a residential population. We don’t have the advantage of being just down the road from a housing population. So we need the input from the expatriates and the working community and we’d like to target that more. Obviously the expatriate community will depend on how the economy grows and of course everyone is talking about how Europe and the US continue not doing too well. But all the indications are that Malaysia will continue to grow economically and I reckon we will continue to see growth in expat numbers.

Which international markets are most promising from a growth perspective?

CHONG: Indonesia has been the number one foreign market for Malaysia for a long time. Of late, we see potential in the Bangladesh market, especially among the middle-income population there, and surprisingly even Myanmar, and that was even before all the political changes. There are 2 or 3 doctors from Myanmar who know Malaysia and they've actually been the channel to bring patients in, mostly cancer patients. We try not to steal patients, we try to compliment whatever service deficiency they have in that country. Those two have been good growth markets. The Australian market for cosmetic surgery continues to be strong. For the smaller markets, such as Libya and Somalia, it tends to be general surgery and orthopedics. But I still think cancer will be the growth market.