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Dr. Jacob Thomas: Medical Tourism in Malaysia

Dr. Jacob Thomas, the President of the Association of Private Hospitals in Malaysia, transitioned into the world of medical tourism naturally, due to his involvement in the healthcare industry since the early 70’s.

When an influx of people from neighboring countries began traveling to Malaysian hospitals, private hospitals decided to make it easy for these visitors to get treatment, and the numbers started growing.

“The Association of Private Hospitals said ‘hey this is something, lets organize this in a way that will benefit our private hospitals,’” says Dr. Thomas.

The success of private hospitals inspired the government to hop on board with this plan and decided to make Malaysia a medical tourism attraction. The government made it easier to travel and made minimal visa requirements. Hospitals and shopping centers flourished as people started traveling with their families.

Malaysia has two very successful sectors of healthcare: public and private. A partnership between the two has developed in order to benefit the entire healthcare system. In regards to the challenge of having both private and public healthcare work toward a common goal, Dr. Thomas said, “It evolved over the years.”

The public system cares for the citizens of Malaysia. Private healthcare centers serve both Malaysian and international patients. Certain services and procedures can only be preformed at private hospitals. If a patient of the public system needs one of the procedures only available at a private hospital, the government will pay the private hospital for the procedure.

“I think there is nothing more important than making sure the patients that come to our hospitals are safe,” says Dr. Thomas. “One way to ensure that is to look at patient safety, quality of care, and looking at outcomes. All this happens when you are accredited by one of many international accrediting bodies.”

Dr. Thomas is a counselor for one of these accrediting bodies, The Malaysian Society for Quality and Health (MSQH). His impressive resume also includes serving as the Chairman of Ramsay Sime Darby Healthcare, a joint venture dedicated to expanding healthcare businesses in Southeast Asia and the whole region. He is a member of the Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council, a member of the Consultative Panel of the Healthcare Sector of the Malaysia Productivity Corporation, and a member of the Asia Pacific Regional Advisory Council of the Joint Commission International. He works closely with various government agencies to promote Malaysian healthcare both locally and internationally.


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