International Living magazineâ€™s Annual Global Retirement Index voted Malaysia as the â€œBest Country in the World for Healthcareâ€ in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2019.
In 2018 Malaysia received 1.2 million medical tourists, up 14% from the year prior.
Hospitals here are known for being excellent at cardiology, oncology, fertility, orthopedics and cosmetic surgery.
While some may head to the capital city of Kuala Lumpur for treatment and recovery, 60% went directly to Penang.
Below are 7 reasons why.
Patients Without Borders says international medical tourists seeking treatment in Malaysia can save between 65% to 80% on their medical costs, with only India coming in cheaper at 65% to 90%.
Other countries that are more expensive include Thailand, Turkey, Mexico, Costa Rica, Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, and Brazil.
Currently, Indonesians make up about 60% of medical tourists in Malaysia, with the rest mainly from China and the Middle East.
This all shows that the cost of treatment in Malaysia is very very affordable.
However, even among local private medical institutions, the price of treatment at Georgetown Specialist Hospital is 10% to 20% lower.
2. High-tech facilities and wide-range of advanced treatments
While the cost of medical tourism in Malaysia might be lower than many countries, hospitals here still use cutting-edge technology and state-of-the-art facilities.
Georgetown Specialist Hospital already has facilities for Internal medicine, Nephrology, Orthopaedics and spine treatment, Gastroenterology, Hepatology, general surgery as well as Endoscopy and Urology.
Coming to Malaysia for medical tourism does not require a special Medical Visa so if you’re one of the few countries that require a Visa to visit Malaysia, a normal Tourist Visa will do.
Furthermore, Penang has an International Airport (IATA code PEN) in Bayan Lepas with 7.3 million visitors passing through in 2017.
Cathay Pacific, China Southern Airlines, Malaysian Airlines, Wings Air and Thai Airways International are just some of the carriers fly in and out of Penang.
You can catch flights to and from Medan, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Jakarta or Guangzhou among others.
Once you land in Penang, there are taxis and 3 bus routes into George Town which is just 16km (or 9.9 miles) away and, depending on traffic.
Also, the Georgetown Specialist Hospital is just 20 minutes to an hour from the terminal.
Most Malaysians are bilingual with English being a commonly used language among locals.
Many Malaysians are even multilingual and are able to converse in Hokkien, Mandarin, Cantonese, Hakka, or Tamil, along with English and Bahasa Malaysia.
This means there’s a good chance you, your doctors and your nurses, will be able to communicate with each other easily.
5. Experienced and professional medical personnel
As of 2018 there were some 50,000 medical doctors in Malaysia, around 6,000 of them Specialists and 1,000 more specialising every year.
Most of them are working in the private sector.
For example, Georgetown Specialist Hospital has a Urologist, Nephrologist, Physician, Orthopaedic Doctor, Trauma Surgeon, Surgeon, Women’s Wellness Doctor, Anaeasthesiologist, Radiologist, Vascular Doctor, Oncologist, Radiotherapist, Chest Physician, and Cardiologist.
6. Medical tourism in Penang is booming
While Penang has already made great strides in developing and promoting medical tourism in the state, stakeholders aren’t sitting on their laurels.
Georgetown Specialist Hospital has 20 beds with plans to expand even further over the next four years already in the pipeline.
In Phase 2 and 3 of the expansion there will be 300 beds for patients and another 100 rooms being added to accommodate patient family members wanting to stay close by.
Hospital chairman Datuk Dr Liong Men Long says the overall investment is roughly RM350 million.
7. Penang is already a significant tourist destination
Penang is a coastal state with a large tropical island which means many beautiful beaches to relax on as well as hiking trails and shopping malls for fitness buffs and shopaholics.
For the culturally inclined, there is also an active art-scene and murals hidden all around for you to discover and has a rich history due to 500 years of trade between the East and West.