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DIALOGUE: Expanding Healthcare Horizons, Dialogue with Natalie Ebden, Clinic Manager of Raffles Medical Group, Beijing, Tianjin and TEDA
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Expanding Healthcare Horizons

Dialogue with Natalie Ebden

Clinic Manager of Raffles Medical Group, Beijing, Tianjin and TEDA

By Michelle Port

778253169Beginning her career in healthcare over 25 years ago as a nurse in Austrailia, Natalie Ebden is now Clinic Manager of Raffles Medical in Beijing, Tianjin and TEDA. She has been working in China since 2002 wherein she joined the International SOS Assistance Centre as an evacuation nurse and later moved into healthcare management. Now responsible for the overall business of three clinics, as well as their day to day operations, Ebden strives to deliver a service based on international quality standards, compliance with local regulations and to bring high quality customer experience.

As Raffles Medical Group is born out of a recent merger with International SOS, Ebden speaks to us about the benefits of this expansion for healthcare in Asia as well as giving us insight into healthcare trends for the future.

What factors contributed to the company's decision to establish the joint venture with Raffles Medical Group and International SOS in China and Cambodia?

Raffles is now truly a pan-Asian healthcare company. With our operations in Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Osaka, the joint venture continues to expand Raffles services to nine new locations. As Raffles celebrates 40 years of caring for patients and clients and working with all partners to deliver the care and service that Raffles is well known for, we are now well placed to meet their diverse and comprehensive needs across Asia.

Tell us a bit about the services and locations of Raffles Medical Group.

Raffles Medical Group is the largest private medical group in Singapore, owning and operating medical facilities that are fully integrated. Since its founding in 1976, RMG has grown consistently to serve more than 2.2 million patients in Singapore and over 6,500 local and multi-national corporate companies spanning all industries each year.

Across Asia, Raffles Medical provides a range of services including general practice, medical checkups, specialist services, health screening, dental services, in-patient services, traditional Chinese medicine, Japanese clinic and pharmacy services.

Following the joint venture, Raffles Medical is now in 13 cities, namely Singapore, Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Nanjing, Tianjin, Dalian, Osaka, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Vung Tau and Phnom Penh. The service levels and medical care in each clinic adhere to the same high standard based on established protocols developed over 40 years of medical experience and practice.

di 97A0681Raffles Medical is well known for their excellent and dedicated medical team. Please, talk about them and their experience. How is the team organised?

At Raffles Medical, we pride ourselves on our group practice model, where staff and doctors are centrally accounted for and work as a team, pooling their knowledge, skills and expertise to ensure that our patients receive the most appropriate treatment and care. This model promotes peer reviews to achieve higher standards of medical excellence and accountability.

It also enables us to provide team based patient-centred care, putting the interests of the client and patient first and gives us a unique advantage and value proposition of being flexible in tailoring, integrating and efficiently managing a package of services customised to the unique needs of our corporate clients.

What is the key to managing such an experienced and professional medical team to deliver its best?

We all share the same goals -- to provide the best care to our patients. Because of this shared goal, we work hard as a team to ensure that our focus is always on patient experience as well as delivering services in line with best medical practices for optimal clinical outcomes.

I think the key to managing any team is a shared vision. This, combined with effective communication, ensures that our patients always receive the best care and have a great experience in our clinics.

What benefits can your corporate customers get from this expansion of services?

Courtesy of its expansion, Raffles Medical will have more than 100 medical facilities across 13 cities in Asia. This will allow our clients to have greater accessibility to a growing number of medical centres and even hospital services. For a start, we are offering "Green Channel" to access Raffles Medical specialist services in Singapore and "Green Channel" to access Raffles Medical International vaccination services through their airport clinics, especially in cases where vaccines are not available in China.

With 40 years of experience in medical provision, Raffles Medical offers a full range of integrated medical services with a comprehensive range to support corporate patients in the areas of workplace health, travelling staff support, airport medical, medical advisories, travel medicine etc. As such, our corporate clients will enjoy a greater range of products to support their entire workforce, Chinese and foreign, as well as the exciting new fee structures across a range of areas.

di 97A0685What technical developments have happened recently at the sites you are managing?

We are really focusing on Telemedicine, meaning technology that allows us to see and treat patients from the comfort of their home, office or site clinic. Through Telemedicine our patients, wherever they may be, can have access to our doctors, and not just the doctors based in Tianjin, but also our family doctors and specialists in Beijing.

How would you evaluate the current situation in the health industry in China?

It is an exciting time in the healthcare industry as China "opens" up the gateways for private facilities/services. The government has increased their focus on healthcare reform and has committed to develop a stronger primary healthcare system with greater accessibility to quality healthcare.

There is still considerable need for wider education of the population on the benefits of general practice or "family medicine". A strong understanding of family medicine and it's a holistic approach to healthcare will allow community clinics to flourish and alleviate some of the demand on the current hospital based system.

The Chinese are looking for improvements in the healthcare options available to them as well as the overall quality of service provided. Areas like quality time with doctors, reduced waiting times and value for money are all areas of interest.

What is next for the future of the industry?

We will continue to see the unfolding of the current 5 year healthcare plan. In major cities, we are already seeing changes in regulations. One example is that in some cases doctors are now allowed to work in more than one medical facility. This is significant as it gives experienced doctors from the 3A (top tier) hospitals the opportunity to share their expertise at a more community level.

We will also see an increase in private healthcare providers, which will drive competition and in turn improve overall quality and service scope, giving people more and better healthcare options.

What are your thoughts about lower number of expats in China and domestic rivals taking significant market share in this sector?

It is true that we are seeing a change in expatriate demographics in China. In some cases a shift away from the "typical expat" to locally hired foreigners has also been observed. However there is also a growing Chinese middle class, middle and senior managers working for both foreign and Chinese companies who are also looking for new healthcare options.

Healthcare is still very much a growing market in China and Raffles Medical's goal is to provide high quality healthcare that is accessible and affordable to a broad mix of population.

di 97A0699What are some of the things Raffles Medical is doing to maintain its strong position?

China is a priority for Raffles Medical and we have a strong focus on continuing to provide the same high quality services to our clients and expanding on our programs and services for their entire workforce. Longer term, Raffles Medical is expanding its footprint in China with a 400-bed hospital opening in Shanghai in 2018 and growing the number of facilities we have in China overall.

Can you tell us about any exciting new projects that are currently in the pipeline at Raffles Medical Group?

Raffles Medical is very pleased to be opening a 400-bed tertiary hospital in Shanghai, Pudong in 2018. This hospital will provide a wide range of specialist services with state of the art medical technology to serve the needs of the local and international community.

What are your own personal goals for the coming months and years?

As a member of the Raffles Medical China Executive Committee, I will be focused on supporting Raffles Medical growth and continuing to build relationships and solutions for our clients as their trusted healthcare partner.


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