Hospitals to showcase latest in medicine at fair

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 August, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 10 August, 2007, 12:00am

The city's 12 private hospitals are to create a 'virtual hospital' at a major health fair to educate people about the latest in medicine.

The 2nd Hong Kong International Medical and Health Care Fair, which starts next Thursday, is not aimed at attracting more patients to the private sector, hospital executives insisted yesterday.

'It is dissemination of information, rather than anything else. Private hospital occupancy is extremely high, sometimes over 100 per cent,' said Private Hospitals Association chairman Alan Lau Kwok-lam.

'We are not trying to catch new customers. We will try to inform customers about what is available to them so they have a good choice,' he said.

The virtual hospital will let people experience a hospital environment so they will be less anxious, he added.

The five-day fair is expected to attract at least 130,000 people, with about 110 international exhibitors displaying their products.

Among the hi-tech devices to be demonstrated at the virtual hospital are a new HK$10 million magnetic resonance imaging-guided ultrasound machine to shrink fibroids that cause heavy menstruation, the latest in orthopaedic surgery, a virtual laboratory, and tools made of gold and diamond to treat tumours and heart disease.

The chief executive of Baptist Hospital, Chiu Hak-fai, said people sometimes believed private hospitals were 'money-grabbing operations'.

'They will be surprised to find out that the vast majority of private hospitals are non-profit-making hospitals whose quality of service, equipment and staff are up to world-class standards,' Dr Chiu said.

He added that the strict ban on medical advertising made it difficult to reach out to the general public.

Lynne Fung, general manager for communications at Matilda International Hospital, agreed.

'It [the fair] is a forum that allows the public to see what types of treatment are out there. It is very difficult [otherwise] to give the information out so the public can make informed choices on their treatment and care,' she said.

Joseph Chan Woon-tong, assistant medical superintendent at Hong Kong Sanatorium and Hospital, said the virtual hospital would show off private hospitals' hi-tech equipment.