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PHL hospitals see foreign investment as key to upgrading management practices

By Alyssa Nicole O. Tan, Reporter

INCREASED foreign investment will allow the medical industry to incorporate more advanced technology and management practices, according to a hospital industry official.

“I think for healthcare in the Philippines, the only problem probably is financing,” Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines, Inc. President Jose Rene D. de Grano told BusinessWorld on the sidelines of the Taiwan Healthcare Expo held in Taipei.

If the Philippines is able to strengthen ties with Taiwan, it could lead to more Taiwan investment in Philippine hospitals, he added.

“While they invest, we will promote their products,” Mr. De Grano said. “At the same time, they will be improving the technology of the healthcare system in our country.”

The president of Taiwan’s Institute for Biotechnology and Medicine Industry, Chi-Huey Wong, said Philippine hospitals could be on the radar for potential Taiwan investors.

“I’m sure the business people here will have great interest to invest in the Philippines in terms of hospital management and also the healthcare system,” he told BusinessWorld at the forum.

“From that point of view, the managers of hospitals here should continue to discuss the regulatory system there (in the Philippines),” he added. “So, when you collaborate, you will know better about the system from each other, and then come up with a common acceptable business model.”

Mr. De Grano said a delegation needs to be invited to visit the Philippines to survey the medical industry.

“We would like (for them) to come over to see how things are back in the Philippines. Right now, the investors are really serious (about the business side), and the technology that they are trying to promote, so that’s what we need — to improve our own technology,” he said. 

“Maybe the Taiwan investors will (tap) the Philippines (to help promote their) technologies,” he added.

Similarly, Philippine Medical Association President Jose P. Santiago, Jr. told BusinessWorld that he thinks “funding is really always the concern of our country.”

If we are given adequate funding, the importation of innovative medical equipment will no longer be an issue, he added, “maybe we can improve the healthcare system.”

Imports raise costs and hinder advances, Mr. Santiago said. He hopes the government offers more tax exemptions for developers of medical equipment.

He said one desirable outcome of collaboration with Taiwan is to upgrade artificial intelligence and medical technology.

Mr. Santiago noted confidence in the potential of the Philippines to develop and improve the technology of its neighbors.

“Definitely ingenuity, creativity, innovativeness (are) very characteristic of Filipinos. They’re really good, very strategic, maybe they’ll even be able to improve the craft, so that’s why we want this collaboration… so we can share our expertise and knowledge (while also) improving our healthcare system,” he said.