Ever since COVID-19 was first identified in 2019, greater emphasis has been placed on healthcare sectors, both internationally and within Singapore. According to Department of Statistics Singapore (SingStat), there are 25 hospitals in Singapore as of 2019, with a total operating receipt of over S$10 million. Furthermore, COVID-19 highlighted the importance of Public Private Partnerships in creating a holistic healthcare ecosystem, which IHH Healthcare contributed as a player in the private healthcare sector. IHH staff were involved in temperature screening at checkpoints, providing swab tests at Community Care Facilities, and receiving COVID-19 patients.
IHH Healthcare offers patients a full spectrum of integrated healthcare services, from primary to highly specialised care and across a wide range of other acute medical services, via the Group’s international network of clinics and hospitals. IHH Healthcare’s portfolio comprises recognisable names such as Gleneagles, Mount Elizabeth, and Parkway. To further strengthen their portfolio, the Group plans to grow their business in diagnostics, ambulatory care, and data analytics. IHH Healthcare’s resilient financial performance is demonstrated by their positive net income since its listing in 2012.
IHH Healthcare extended their New Master Lease Agreement with Parkway Life REIT until the end of 2042, with an option to renew for a further 10 years. This allowed IHH Healthcare to continue operating the three hospitals (Mount Elizabeth Hospital Property, Gleneagles Hospital Property and Parkway East Hospital Property) in the prime locations of Singapore is maintained, strengthening its long-term ability and commitment to serving patients in Singapore.
For interested investors who are keen in companies in the healthcare sector, here are 5 things to know about IHH Healthcare.
Do you see medical tourism as one of the industry’s key drivers to return post COVID-19?
COVID-19 has undoubtedly curtailed global medical tourism as patients deferred non-urgent or elective treatments. But with the relaxation of travel restrictions, formation of more travel lanes and continued rollout of vaccination programmes worldwide, we are optimistic that medical tourism will pick up as there remains strong demand for quality private healthcare and the long-term prospects for this are unlikely to change in a post-COVID world.
For example, in Turkey where we operate and where travel restrictions have eased, we saw a firm rebound in foreign patient contribution since around the second half of 2020.
What do you think are some key drivers for this industry?
Addressing near-term workforce challenges arising from COVID-19 – in particular, safeguarding frontline staff’s safety and well-being – while also building future workforce adaptability and resilience will require data- driven, human-centric solutions that allow organisations to move quickly to support evolving employee needs.
The pandemic has accelerated technology adoption, with digitalisation playing a key role in increasing efficient delivery of healthcare services. It has also changed the way people live, work and play, as many are forced to adapt to a digital lifestyle. Healthcare too, cannot be “business-as-usual” as patient trends evolve towards “better, faster, easier, more cost effective”.
COVID-19 has shown the importance of Public Private Partnerships and how having a holistic healthcare ecosystem will create opportunities for new health care behaviours, business and funding models and more effective stakeholder collaborations which can lead to novel combinations of products and services from incumbents and new entrants.
What are the key focus areas for IHH Healthcare in the next 2-3 years?
Our Refreshed Strategy to double our return on equity (ROE) by 2024 is already bearing fruit and we continue to work towards improving our performance. Over the near term, we will focus on three strategic pillars anchored on our purpose of touching lives and transforming care to be the world’s most trusted healthcare provider. They are to:
#1 Reduce losses from entities: We have achieved breakeven EBTIDA for Gleneagles Hong Kong Hospital in May 2021, and significantly reduced our Turkish Lira exposure.
#2 Drive operational excellence: Leveraging our international scale for synergies, efficiency, and best practices.
#3 Capital efficient growth: Growing selectively in key metros, so we can provide higher-value services from a large patient population. For instance, we can significantly ramp up our laboratory and digital capabilities in Singapore, Malaysia, India, and Turkey.
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Going digital/technological innovation is seen as a requirement to remain a viable business. What are some ways the Group is “disrupting” itself?
While digital health has disrupted the healthcare ecosystem, it is not a replacement for the brick-and-mortar model. Instead, telemedicine and other digital modalities has enabled hospitals to connect with patients more efficiently and are extensions to the traditional hospital model that will be here to stay.
However, over time, this hybrid model of care of online to offline care will enable healthcare players to focus on-site resources in hospitals and medical facilities more on care that truly requires physical presence such as for surgeries and other medical procedures, which will enable providers to serve more patients.
At IHH, we are already leveraging cutting-edge technology to meet this trend. In 2018, we launched an AI-powered predictive hospital bill estimation system to dynamically generate personalised, hospital bill estimates at 80% accuracy. This has helped empower patients to make more well-informed decisions on the medical treatment options available and provide greater peace of mind and transparency.
Understanding your customers is one of the best ways to retain and build business. What are some things the Group has learned about its customers changing needs in a post-pandemic world?
Patients are demanding for faster, cheaper, and more convenient services, and the future of hospital care is one that will be both “high-tech” and “high-touch”.
As such, our Refreshed Strategy is focused on developing sustainable platforms including digitalising the care we deliver and offering greater convenience to our patients to complement our brick-and-mortar facilities. COVID-19 has also highlighted the importance of building a strong “out of hospital” system that can provide preventive primary healthcare to allow hospitals to focus on more acute and complicated work.
Today, we can provide our patients peace of mind and access to uninterrupted quality medical care, whether from their homes or at our facilities, and allow seamless transfers as necessary. Our patients can trust us to not only deliver excellent care and outcomes but also value.
Editor’s Note: Some answers for this article were extracted from the SGX 10 in 10 series published on 31 August 2021 and have been republished with permission. You can read more on the SGX website.
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