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A New Trend in Medical Tourism

2024-02-07

Healthcare and Health Maintenance in Taiwan Mei Kuo February 2024 Hospitals in Taiwan possess high-end medical technology and equipment, and Taiwan is a world leader in certain specialties, including liver transplantation and reproductive medicine. Institutions here provide very cost-effective healthcare services and have a competitive advantage against the rest of the world in terms of the level of medical science and the quality of care. When you also consider that Traditional Chinese Medicine is practiced here side by side with Western medicine, Taiwan offers a two-track Chinese and Western medical and health-maintenance environment that is rare anywhere around the globe. There is a new global trend of traveling for medical care and health maintenance. If you come to Taiwan, besides enjoying the natural environment and local culture, you can also seek out healthcare consultations and medical treatment. In one trip you can satisfy your desire for both recreation and healthcare. Taiwan’s robust healthcare system The average life expectancy in Taiwan is nearly 80 years, significantly higher than the world average. The main reason, besides the island’s comprehensive national health insurance system, is that Taiwan offers high-­quality healthcare services. In 2023 the inter­national business magazine CEOWORLD compared the healthcare systems in 110 countries around the world, and Taiwan ranked number one. Wu Ming-yen, CEO of the Medical Excellence Taiwan foundation, says that Taiwan put in place an assessment and evaluation system for healthcare institutions as long as 30 years ago. It was the first country in Asia and the fourth in the world to implement healthcare institution assessments. For example, to date 17 healthcare institutions in Taiwan have received JCI Gold Seal of Approval accreditation from Joint Commission Inter­national, an inter­national assessment organization for medical services. Wu notes that Taiwan has an excellent reputation inter­nationally for a variety of medical services, including cranio­facial surgery, liver and kidney transplantation, assisted reproductive technology, cardiovascular treatment, joint replacement surgery, and dental care. Among these, liver and kidney transplantation are especially successful, with low rates of complications and high rates of success and survival. Living-donor liver transplantation in particular is renowned worldwide, with a five-year survival rate of 93.5%, higher than in Europe or North America. Taiwan’s specialized medical service providers began engaging in international cooperation decades ago. In 2007, Shin Kong Wu Ho-Su Memorial Hospital worked with Palau to launch a joint healthcare program, including sending medical personnel from Shin Kong to Palau to provide on-site services, referring patients from Palau to Taiwan for treatment, offering a school nutrition education program, and training local medical personnel. Meanwhile, Far Eastern Memorial Hospital provides in-house training to doctors and dialysis nurses from Belize. Medical staff who have received training in Taiwan work as seed teachers to provide clinical training when they get back to Belize, thereby upgrading that country’s professional capabilities in kidney disease prevention. Competitive advantage in cost-effectiveness The saying goes that “to do a good job, a worker needs the best tools.” Wu says that good equipment is essential to good healthcare. Whether it be computed tomography (CT) scanners and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines, which greatly assist disease screening and diagnosis, or even high-priced proton therapy devices for precision treatment of cancer, “Taiwan has a lot of them.” In recent years, in addition to the treatment of diseases, there has been an increasing emphasis on preventive medicine. Large healthcare institutions have been willing to invest in equipment for sophisticated physical examinations and develop health check services to meet a rapidly growing market for self-paid health checks. Alex Hung, administrative deputy superintendent at Shin Kong Hospital and chairman of the committee in charge of Health Check-up Program Certification at the Joint Commission of Taiwan (JCT), states that the JCT established the committee in 2021 to establish a quality certification system for health check programs provided by healthcare institutions. The JCT evaluates the caliber of various procedures, such as cancer screening, cerebrovascular and cardiovascular testing, and comprehensive physical examinations. There is consequently a high level of confidence about the quality of health checks in Taiwan. Because Taiwan has a national health insurance system, its medical services are especially cost-effective. Wu Ming-yen references an article in the UK’s Daily Telegraph newspaper, which stated that Taiwan provides the best healthcare facilities in the world while the costs are very patient-friendly. This is a major reason why many inter­national patients choose to come to Taiwan for treatment. For example, for in-vitro fertilization, in Taiwan the average live birth rate is over 30%, while the costs are only one-third of what they are in Europe, North America, and Japan. Two-track Chinese and Western system “Another unique aspect of healthcare in Taiwan is that it includes Traditional Chinese Medicine [TCM], which incorporates both treatment of health problems and general health maintenance.” Wang Ching-chiung, a professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at Taipei Medical University, states that although forms of traditional medicine are practiced throughout the world, it is only in Taiwan, China, and Korea that edu­cation, professional examinations, training and practice in Western medicine are incorporated into the standard training of TCM doctors, so that the TCM curriculum also covers basic training in Western medicine. This two-track system that includes both Chinese and Western medicine is very rare anywhere in the world. Su Po-hsuan, an attending physician in the Department of Traditional Chinese Medicine at Taipei Medical University Hospital, explains that TCM uses the methods of observation, auscultation, olfaction, inquiry, and pulse diagnosis to provide differential diagnoses and prescriptions to people depending on their individual physical condition. There are nine basic patterns of physical condition, including “deficiency of qi” (vital essence), “deficiency of yang” (the active force), “deficiency of yin” (the passive force), “damp heat,” and “phlegm dampness.” Many people have a mixture of these types, such as a combination of “phlegm dampness” and “qi deficiency,” that need to be treated at the same time. It is not only Taiwanese who opt for TCM treatment—many foreigners also seek TCM therapies for their bodily ills. For example, when Hitomi Kuroki, a Japanese actress and director who has won a Hong Kong Film Award, was invited to Taiwan in 2022 to serve as a presenter at the Golden Horse Awards, she revealed at a press conference that she would be spending an extra night in Taipei in ­order to see a TCM doctor to get medicine for her stomach. Su Po-hsuan says that his foreign patients include some who seek TCM help for infertility, as well as people with Alzheimer’s disease who opt for TCM therapies including acupuncture and moxibustion to alleviate hand tremors or cognitive impairment, and who may take six months’ worth of medications with them when they return home, and come back for a follow-up appointment after half a year. TCM and health maintenance Wang Ching-chiung emphasizes that TCM not only offers therapies, but is also part of general health maintenance, which is a rare healthcare model anywhere in the world. For example, the TCM prescriptions for sore, watery eyes (a frequent problem among the elderly)—ji ju dihuang wan (pills containing lycium, chrysanthemum, and rehmannia), and mingmu wan (“eyesight-improving pills”)—have both therapeutic and health maintenance functions. One of the principles of TCM is that the internal organs correspond to “meridians” that run through the body. When the functions of a certain part of the body fall out of balance, various methods can used (including scrape therapy, cupping, qigong, and acupressure) to enable the qi and blood to flow more freely through the meridians and restore the body to health and harmony. Wang Ching-chiung states that masseurs at health massage facilities in Taiwan pay particular attention to accupressure points. When giving a massage, they explain to clients the internal organs that correspond to certain pressure points. For example, to relieve headaches they massage the pressure points called the taiyang xue (on the temples, at the sides of the head) and the hegu xue (in the flesh between the thumb and index finger of each hand). This is a practical example of how TCM has been incorporated into health maintenance. Su Po-hsuan adds that while beauty salons in Taiwan give head, neck, and shoulder massages when shampooing hair, the head, neck, and shoulder massages and foot massages provided by wellness centers are based on the principle of pressure points. In addition, soaking at a hot spring can promote circulation of qi and blood and achieve the goal of health maintenance. Taiwan has well-known hot springs at locations such as Beitou in Taipei City, and Jiaoxi and Su’ao in Yilan County. TCM emphasizes changing with the seasons and choosing a healthy diet suited to each part of the year. In spring, food should “nourish the liver”; in summer, one should eat things that “clear dampness” and “dissipate heat”; in autumn it is best to consume foods that “nourish the lungs” and “moisten dryness”; while in winter, tonic foods like ginger duck in rice wine, mutton hotpot, and sesame oil chicken are taken to keep warm. Su adds that people can first have their individual physical condition determined by a TCM doctor and then, based on this assessment, choose tonic foods with “warming,” “cooling,” or “balanced” properties to maintain their health in accordance with the seasons. In this way one can stay healthy naturally. A new trend of medical tourism The Hualien Tzu Chi Hospital, a major medical center in Eastern Taiwan, is a bastion of stem cell therapy and regenerative medicine as well as other specialties, and attracts many patients to come to Taiwan for treatment. This year Tzu Chi began working with the Gaeavilla Resort in Hualien to promote an international tourism and healthcare plan. Patients undergoing long-term therapy can stay in the hotel with their families and enjoy Hualien’s beautiful scenery, and when they need treatment or follow-­­up appointments, shuttle vehicles will take them to the hospital and back. In this way international travelers can come to Taiwan and receive high-quality healthcare while staying at a high-end resort rather than in a hospital ward. The Chang Gung Health and Culture Village in Tao­yuan’s Guishan District welcomes elderly people who are healthy, in suboptimal health, or disabled. The residences are built in a tranquil hillside forest. The Health and Culture Village offers transportation to take residents to Chang Gung Memorial Hospital for medical care or to Carrefour for shopping. “Forty percent of the residents are ROC citizens who previously lived overseas, and there are 2,000 people on the waiting list to move in,” says Tu Su-chen, director of the Management Department. We interview a Mr. Feng, age 65, who lived for many years in the US and China and who came back to Taiwan with his wife four years ago to live in the Health and Culture Village. Having just finished a taiko drum class, he tells us: “The quality of healthcare here is high, life is convenient, and all of us residents get along well, so it’s even better than I imagined.” Alex Hung states: “Healthcare services are built on brand identity and trust.” Combining recreation with medical treatment is an emerging trend in the tourism sector. Taiwan has a rich natural environment and a strong cultural foundation, and the medical community is highly experienced. You can arrange for a medical tourism visit to Taiwan and as you travel you can also experience high-quality health checks, cosmetic surgery, or specialized medical care, healing your mind and body amid beautiful scenery. By Taiwan Panoramareurl.cc/g4ngL4

A New Trend in Medical Tourism

TVGH inks BioNTech MOU to cooperate in new drug research and development

2023-08-19

Taipei Veterans General Hospital and the German BioNTech biotechnology company jointly cooperate in the research and development of new drugs. This (17) morning, Superintendent Wei-Ming Chen of Taipei VGH and Mr. Sean Marettia, Chief Commercial and Chief Business Officer of BioNTech biotechnology company, signed a memorandum of cooperation on behalf of the two parties, injecting a new force into Taiwan's cancer precision medicine. Superintendent Wei-Ming Chen said that the Taipei Veterans General Hospital will continue to be in line with international standards, explore the most advanced medical technology, bring more innovations to Taiwan's medical care, and continue to work tirelessly for the health of the people in Taiwan. We also work tirelessly for the health of the Taiwan people. Conquering Cancer Together and Collaborate for impact. Chief Commercial and Chief Business Officer Mr. Sean Marettia is very happy to have this opportunity to cooperate with Taiwan's top medical center. He was deeply impressed by the Taipei Veterans General Hospital’s outpatient chemotherapy, integrated Traditional Chinese medicine and Western therapy, and the world's most advanced heavy ion cancer therapy center. In the field of cancer treatment, Taipei Veterans General Hospital has reached the world-class level in terms of medical technology and treatment effects. Up to one-third of the inpatients in the hospital are cancer patients. In addition to advanced surgical operations and medical treatment, In May 2023, the world's most advanced heavy ion cancer therapy center was opened to give full play to the power of interdisciplinary team treatment, and the results are exciting. Precision and personalized medicine are the international trends in cancer treatment. Based on the spirit of pursuing excellence, Taipei Veterans General Hospital cooperates with German BioNTech this time to strive for more new treatment options for Taiwan’s people. source:https://www.vghtpe.gov.tw/News!one.action?nid=12496 Last Modified:2023/08/18 09:25:07

TVGH inks BioNTech MOU to coop...

AI system improves clinical decisions for better patient care at Taichung hospital

2023-03-31

The technology enables more accurate, faster data analysis. Advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) can play an important role in modern medicine and in providing better patient care and services. The technology fills a significant gap in the medical system by enabling better processing, management, detection, and analysis of large data sets and mathematical algorithms at unequalled speed and precision. Whilst there may be some concerns surrounding this technology, it can help save lives, reduce avoidable medical complications and medical errors, and streamline layers of patient and medical data when properly utilised and trained for specific applications. To reap these benefits, China Medical University Hospital (CMUH) in Taichung, Taiwan, has implemented innovative and specialised AI technologies to aid with complex clinical decision-making in two critical fields of medicine: antimicrobial medicine and cardiovascular medicine. These AI-assistive systems have improved clinical decision-making and clinical outcomes in challenging areas of medicine. For this, CMUH is being honoured as Smart Hospital Initiative of the Year - Taiwan by Healthcare Asia Awards 2023. Slated for presentation on March 29, 2023, the awards programme aims to honour hospitals, clinics and other healthcare providers that have risen and made a remarkable impact on their patients. In cardiovascular medicine, AI is making a difference with fast and accurate ECG interpretation at CMUH, in the form of an innovative wireless or remote 12-lead ECG monitor. The AI detects abnormal heart rhythms that indicate cardiovascular events such as an ST-elevated myocardial infarction (STEMI), which require emergency care in a defined 90-minute window, often referred to as door-to-bed. AI assistance in ambulances also saves time and facilitates triage for better clinical outcomes. Prehospital 12-lead ECG examinectin, transmission, and interpretation The technology is especially helpful in detecting cardiovascular events in patients experiencing chest pain who have atypical symptoms, making timely diagnosis and treatment intervention difficult. Additionally, it prevents treatment delays during busy periods in the hospital and during the off-hours when fewer medical staff are available. With the AI-assistive technology, ECG interpretation times have been reduced to 10 minutes or less, an increase from 24% to 63.4% since implementing ASAP scoring in patients without chest pain. The AI assistance for cardiovascular emergency medicine has also significantly reduced the door-to-bed time during the off-hours period when hospitals have fewer staff in operation. Meanwhile, antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a critical problem in medicine associated with inappropriate antibiotic treatment and medical error. Over time, microbial pathogens that cause infections adapt to antibiotic medications, making them ineffective and resulting in antimicrobial resistance. It is therefore imperative to make better clinical decisions in antimicrobial medicine through careful microbial pathogen detection and precise antimicrobial medication selection. Al-assistance provides a solution AI assistance for antimicrobial medicine predicts eight drug-resistant strains and septic mortality within one hour, reducing 85% of the medical errors and the mortality rate. As a result, CMUH has improved the treatment for microbial infections by guiding antimicrobial medicine selection and effectively reducing the amount of inappropriate antimicrobial medication use and medical error. In addition, the technology can quickly and accurately assess antimicrobial medication resistance against specific microbial pathogens to avoid ineffective treatments and avoid medical complications. Stakeholders of the hospital have also noted reduced hospital expenses and avoidable complications since implementing the AI assistance systems, according to Aichi Chou, CEO of International Center at CMUH. “AI assistance is instrumental because of its ability to analyse large data sets fast and accurately to make good clinical decisions by guiding antimicrobial selection, generating antibiograms, and predicting sepsis and mortality risks which save lives and reduce further medical complications due to ineffective infection treatment,” Chou said. Chou added, “Medical records are often missing detailed annotations regarding previous infections and treatments which further complicates microbial treatment. AI assistance improves the accuracy of medical records through detailed annotations.” The hospital has “received feedback from several patients and their families that they are very grateful for the speed of emergency care when they or their loved one has had a heart attack but are not near a hospital, and especially if it happened during late hours or the middle of the night, she said. HEALTHCAREASIA

AI system improves clinical de...

Newsweek lists National Taiwan University Hospital as one of world’s best

2023-03-08

Newsweek lists National Taiwan University Hospital as one of world’s best NTUH superintendent: Taiwan hospitals should have been ranked higher By Matthew Strong, Taiwan News, Staff Writer 2023/03/07 National Taiwan University Hospital ranks No. 249 in the world, according to Newsweek and Statista. (CNA photo) TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan made its first appearance this year in Newsweek’s annual ‘World’s Best Hospitals’ list, with National Taiwan University Hospital (NTUH) ranking as the country’s best, or at No. 249 on a global basis. The U.S. magazine and global data firm Statista said they ranked 2,300 hospitals in 28 countries, including Taiwan on the list for the first time. A total of 35 Taiwan hospitals were featured on the list, though only NTUH made it into the top 250. Superintendent Wu Ming-shiang (吳明賢) expressed surprise at the fact that most Taiwan hospitals were rated relatively low, UDN reported. Considering local hospitals’ technological achievements and high-quality levels of service, they should have appeared higher on the list, even in the top 100, according to Wu, who added that many hospitals are unlikely to agree with the ranking they received. NTUH was followed by Taipei Veterans General Hospital, the Chang Gung Memorial Hospital campus in Kaohsiung City, National Cheng Kung University Hospital in Tainan City, and the China Medical University based in Taichung City.

Newsweek lists National Taiwan...

Taiwan has been the No. 1 favorite place for foreign travelers for 3 consecutive years

2021-05-19

In January 2021, more than 12,000 expat respondents from across the globe took part in the latest Expat Insider survey. Together, they represent a total of 174 nationalities and live in 186 countries or territories around the world. And, for the first time since the Expat Insider survey was launched in 2014, more than 6,000 local residents — many former and future expats among them — also had the opportunity to respond to selected questions; most of these addressed the way the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic might have disrupted relocation plans or a recent stay abroad. Safe & Sound in Taiwan Taiwan ranks 1st out of 59 destinations for the third year in a row in the Expat Insider 2021 survey. It also comes first in the Quality of Life and Working Abroad Indices: Most expats are satisfied with their job security (83% vs. 61% globally) and the state of the local economy (85% vs. 62% globally). Additionally, the majority is happy with their job (75% vs. 68% globally) and their life in general (80% vs. 75% globally). Furthermore, 96% of expats rate the quality of medical care positively (vs. 71% globally), and another 94% are satisfied with its affordability (vs. 61% globally). An expat from Chile shares: “The Taiwanese healthcare system truly considers people as human beings instead of mere numbers.” Moreover, not a single expat feels personally unsafe in Taiwan (vs. 8% globally). An expat from Canada shares: “I can live independently. I feel safe wherever I go, and everything is convenient.” The Taiwanese healthcare system truly considers people as human beings instead of mere numbers. Although Taiwan places slightly lower in the Ease of Settling In Index (13th), it is the best-ranking country worldwide in the Friendliness subcategory (1st). Most expats find it easy to make friends there (62% vs. 48% globally) and describe the Taiwanese population as friendly towards foreign residents (96% vs. 67% globally). Where Expat Life Is Great: The Quality of Life Index Methodology In 2021, the Expat Insider survey includes 59 countries and territories with a minimum of 50 respondents each. The Quality of Life Index covers 20 factors from seven different subcategories: Leisure Options, Health & Well-Being, Safety & Security, Personal Happiness, Travel & Transportation, Digital Life, and Quality of the Environment. Respondents rated factors on a scale from one to seven. Taiwan: Still Going Strong In the Quality of Life Index, Taiwan places first for the fourth time. In the Expat Insider 2021 survey, it lands again among the top 10 in two subcategories that have always been among its strongest points: Health & Well-Being (1st) and Travel & Transportation (8th). Expats in Taiwan appreciate both the affordability of healthcare (94% positive replies vs. 61% globally) and its quality (96% positive vs. 71% globally). “I love the excellent and affordable healthcare system!” says a French expat in Taipei. Another 90% give the transportation infrastructure a positive rating, compared to 76% worldwide. I love the excellent and affordable healthcare system! Taiwan gets above-average results in three more subcategories. However, all these rankings are somewhat negatively affected by one specific factor. For example, Taiwan places 14th in the Digital Life subcategory. Its ratings for high-speed internet access, for instance, are excellent, with 94% of expats judging this factor favorably (vs. 79% globally). However, they are less satisfied with the cashless payment options: 85% rate them positively, about the same as the global average (83%). Though this is still a good result, it is not an amazing one, which leads to Taiwan not ranking quite as highly as it might have. Similar trends emerge in the Safety & Security (14th) and Leisure Options (17th) subcategories. Last but not least, Taiwan only lands in an average 29th place in the Quality of the Environment subcategory. This is mainly due to the local air quality, which a mere 56% rate positively, compared to 66% worldwide. Nonetheless, expats in Taiwan are pretty happy with their life in general — four out of five (80%) say so (vs. 75% globally). The Best and Worst Places to Feel at Home Abroad Taiwan ranks first for Friendliness, closely followed by Mexico and Costa Rica. In fact, 96% of expats in Taiwan rate the general friendliness of the population positively, compared to a global average of 69%. The same share (96%) agrees that people in Taiwan are generally friendly towards foreign residents, and 54% even agree completely (vs. a global average of 67% and 25% respectively). “Taiwanese citizens make me feel at home,” an expat from France points out. “I don’t feel like a foreigner here.” In the bottom 3 of the subcategory, Austria (58th) joins Denmark (57th) and Kuwait (59th). Nearly three in eight expats in Austria (37%) rate the general friendliness of the local population negatively (vs. 16% globally), and the same percentage (37%) find people in Austria to be generally not friendly towards foreign residents (vs. 18% globally). “Austrians take a long time to warm up to you,” says a British expat, and a survey respondent from Turkey agrees that “socializing with the locals is not easy”. Source:https://www.internations.org/expat-insider/2021/

Taiwan has been the No. 1 favo...
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