Hong Kong health care and hospitals

Hong Kong private hospital competition heats up over fixed price packages to capture middle market

  • Gleneagles says it will expand all-inclusive fixed price packages to cover more medical conditions and complex surgeries
  • CUHK Medical Centre, set to open in Sha Tin in 2020, says it will go one step further by price packaging all its services
PUBLISHED : Sunday, 02 December, 2018, 6:02pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 02 December, 2018, 9:10pm

Hong Kong’s newest private hospital will expand its all-inclusive fixed price packages to cover more medical conditions and complex surgeries to ease patients’ fears over forking out more for complications.

Gleneagles Hong Kong Hospital CEO Dirk Schraven revealed the plan as another private hospital, CUHK Medical Centre, set to open in Sha Tin in 2020 under Chinese University – said it would go one step further by price packaging all its services.

The 500-bed Gleneagles opened in March last year in Wong Chuk Hang focusing on middle-market services. Among 12 private hospitals in Hong Kong, it is the only one providing at least 51 per cent of inpatient bed days at packaged rates. More than 120 unique packages have been set out.

In an interview with the Post, Schraven said patients buying the packages would not be required to pay more than the fixed price as long as their duration of stay did not change. This applied even in the event of complications or extra consultations.

Among the packages listed on the hospital’s website, a patient undergoing a hip arthroscopy can expect to pay HK$59,800 (US$7,645) for a two-day, one-night stay. A hysterectomy will cost HK$67,600 for a four-day, three-night stay.

Schraven said they were planning to expand such fixed price services.

“We are also looking at more complex surgeries, and something we are now discussing with the government is to create individualised or customised packages which will fit certain patients in a more bespoke manner.

No will to tackle Hong Kong’s private hospitals

“One of the big problems with the middle class in Hong Kong is that they are concerned about using private health care facilities because they are not sure how high their bills will be, and to what extent their insurance covers the expected expenses.”

But Schraven said he could not guarantee that the hospital would not raise prices in the near future.

“We will be raising prices every so often because of health care inflation,” he said, pointing to the lack of space and manpower in the city.

“[But] we will ensure packages remain competitive because we want to make sure they are accessible to the middle class.”

He also said the hospital planned to open an inpatient psychiatric service, believed to be the first of its kind in the private sector.

“We intend to roll it out step by step. We are thinking of services such as eating disorders or substance abuse. We will start there and slowly expand the type of conditions that we can accept.”

He said there was a real gap in the market as people had to queue up in public psychiatric wards.

New Hong Kong private hospital CUHK Medical Centre out to lure public patients with price guarantees, as officials seek to ease strain on government facilities

The hospital recently opened a spine centre, where, according to Schraven, a multidisciplinary team from the University of Hong Kong treats patients “in a very high quality way which is not easily available in the private market”.

He also said the occupancy rate at the hospital was within their expectations.

“We are on line with what we expect for a new hospital ... Every month [it is getting] better. It usually takes about three to four years to fill a hospital and it’s within expectations.”

The hospital has also been conducting three research projects jointly with HKU, its exclusive clinical partner.

The work centres on quality of life for cancer patients, care services provided by the Jockey Club Cancer Rehabilitation Centre, and the ease of use of an electronic health records sharing system at Gleneagles.