Message from the Managing Director
Ms. Linda Lisahapanya
For Bumrungrad the year 2020 was challenging indeed, as our 40th anniversary coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic. Reflecting on the past, we have successfully navigated other challenges, from the Asian financial crisis in 1997 to the subsequent outbreaks of SARS, H1N1 and MERS viruses. COVID-19 was the most acute challenge we have faced thus far, when broad travel restrictions were enacted by the government to control the spread of the virus and fear permeated domestic sentiment.
In the past, it was in fact Bumrungrad, which detected the first case of MERS in Thailand and thereby curbed the local spread of the infection. Our rigorous screening measures gained praise from the World Health Organization as well as the Thai Ministry of Public Health. Drawing on decades of experience and commitment to clinical and operational excellence, we have successfully navigated these troubled waters in 2020.
In the first quarter, we began offering direct teleconsultations and homecare services through our Bumrungrad@Home service to our patients, making it easier, and more comfortable for patients to connect with our doctors, to receive medications, vaccinations and specimen collections. This channel allows patients who trust in and demand Bumrungrad-quality services, but who cannot, or are reluctant to physically receive care, to be served. Our telemedicine service was well received, both by domestic and even our international patients. To improve the speed at which we render care, we launched the ‘drive thru’ 60-second clinic, offering vaccinations, medicine pickups and blood draws within that time and established a new Preventive Genomics & Family Check-up Services center, staying at the forefront of advanced medical intervention through genetic testing and consultations to identify and help patients mitigate the risk of hereditary disease and drug allergies.
We were undeterred by the difficulties of providing care to our overseas patients who continued to express desire to come to Bumrungrad. We endeavored to connect with our international patients where possible. An exemplification of our commitment to our patients overseas saw two Bumrungrad Relief Flights being arranged, which chartered aircraft to transport patients and their companions safely into Thailand from Myanmar. Moreover, we especially outfitted a van to provide safety-compliant and comfortable transport for patients travelling overland from Cambodia and Laos.
We also offered Alternative State Quarantine (ASQ) services for overseas travelers to quarantine at partner hotels and Alternative Hospital Quarantine (AHQ) services at the hospital, where patients can receive care under strict protocols and measures. As the psychological impact of isolation and restricted movement under quarantine can often be daunting or distressing, we committed resources and technology to enhance their experience and mitigate the effects of temporary social isolation. It is this patient-centric and patient-safety approach that is at the core of everything we do. Every day, we have a waiting list of up to 400 overseas patients who are applying for permission from the government to come to Bumrungrad for their care.
Another underlying theme for this year is an emphasis on communications, and connectivity. Not only did we keep our patients informed of measures to ensure their safety, but we also communicated with the Thai public to help promote understanding of the pandemic and how to better protect themselves. During the year we launched a new 1378 hotline and the Bumrungrad app. The app allows patients to seamlessly book, adjust or review appointments, to view content, purchase the latest promotions or packages, and to be enrolled in our loyalty card program. We envision the app as the platform through which additional services and where one’s health and wellbeing can be managed. The Company also conducted increasingly targeted digital marketing campaigns and in social media. These campaigns not only allow us to adapt to changing trends in media consumption, but allows us to increasingly measure performance and manage returns on ad spending.
Mutually beneficial partnerships are a channel we will increasingly nurture. During the year we opened 4 Centers of Excellence for joint and spine surgeries with partner hospitals under the Bumrungrad Health Network. We see significant expansion opportunities offering similar services to other networked hospitals and in other specialties such as cancer in the coming years. Bumrungrad partnered with Central Group’s The 1 Card in order to offer our patients the ability to ‘earn and burn’ points when paying for our services. This collaborative model has generated new patient registrations and encouraged spending in a challenging economic time.
We also adjusted or accelerated projects or new services as patient needs evolved. New services allowed patients to seek treatment and advice remotely. These include: tele-consultation, tele-medicine, the Bumrungrad@Home Service, 60 Second Service, the app Bumrungrad Application and the 1378 hotline. To accommodate different patient needs, a wide range of over 150 health packages are now available online, including the promotional health check-up packages as part of our 40th Anniversary Campaign. Other new services include our Preventive Genomics & Family Check-up Services Center, which offers genetic testing to identify and mitigate the risk of hereditary disease and drug allergies.
Our subsidiary, the Vitallife Scientific Wellness Center, also expanded its offering in 2020. With the aim of providing world-class holistic healthcare, we launched Vitallife@Bang Krachao at RAKxa, a medical and wellness retreat located among lush greenery, nestled between the bend of the Chao Phraya river in Bang Krachao island. The retreat is the first of its kind in Thailand to provide such services and in the first month of operation, sold 40 prepaid memberships. We believe RAKxa, particularly when unrestricted travel is restored, will be a go-to regional wellness destination.
In conclusion, I would like to express my sincere thanks to our shareholders, Board of Directors, physicians and clinicians, dentists, staff and management for their support over this past year. In particular, I thank all the frontline staff and doctors who have continued to provide the highest standard of treatment and care throughout the pandemic. Lastly, I must thank our patients, whose trust we have enjoyed for over 40 years. Our six-month price freeze pledge for 2021 is a token of our gratitude for their patronage, especially during these challenging times. With your continued support, I am confident that Bumrungrad will continue to be world-acclaimed hospital in and grow from strength-to-strength.