Samitivej Hospitals: Letting service speak for itself
Samitivej Hospital, one’s of Bangkok’s leading healthcare centres, takes a bold approach to branding. Management believes its services speak for themselves, so it doesn’t feel it needs to compare itself to competitors, with word-of-mouth comprising many of its customers. “We are very concerned with service,” said Dr Somsiri Sakolsatayadorn, the managing director and chief executive of Samitivej Hospital. “We want to have the best hospitality of any hospital. We believe if you feel better during your treatment, the treatment will be more successful. Modern medicine often wants to just prescribe some pills and send you on your way, but we believe in holistic care.” Indeed, Samitivej has carved a lucrative niche by offering several services that are not available at other Thai hospitals. Samitivej just opened its cardiac institute this year, which all types of non-invasive technologies to assist patients. “Arrhythmia, or an irregular heartbeat, is quite common for those over 50,” she said. “We have radio-frequency abrasion to help stop the irregular rhythm. We also have implants for congenital heart defects that synchronise the heart beat. There are biodegradable stents that dissolve when the vessel is strong enough to support itself, and we have an EVA machine to deal with aneurysms.” “We also have the world’s leading authority on hepatitis on our staff. Hepatitis is an epidemic for people in Southeast Asia, and it is transmitted by blood, so if we can detect it early we can prevent its spread. Our liver and GI centre has 15 doctors as residents.” Samitivej was founded in 1979, named by former Thai prime minister, newspaper founder, and writer M.R. Kukrit
“Foreigners have always made up a significant portion of Samitivej’s patients.”
P Pramoj, has three branches: Sukhumvit S Soi 49, Srinakarin and Si Racha in Chon Buri province. It has three more planned: Thon Buri, on the other side of the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok, another in Chon Buri province, and an international clinic slated for Yangon, M Myanmar in 2014. Other distinct services Samitivej offers include an orthopaedic surgery and s sports rehab clinic. “Often times older folks don’t know what kind of exercise their body can handle besides walking and jogging,” said Dr Somsiri. “Our therapists can help with building a regimen, including for elderly with balance problems. Another advantage is that our fitness department not only rehabs you after an orthopaedic injury, we make you confident enough to return to your sport of choice. Patients often don’t trust a body part after it’s been injured, but we rebuild the body part and your psyche so that you can return to competition.” Foreigners have always made up a significant portion of Samitivej’s patients, whether it’s because of the level of
care or its location. The original Sukhumvit branch is in the heart of the Japanese community, and that segment makes up half of its foreign patients. Foreigners comprise 40% of the hospital’s total patients, and Samitivej caters to them with a diverse array of services promoted on its website, www.samitivejhospitals.com, which is translated into eight different languages. Dr Somsiri expects an influx of Chinese patients for its fertility clinic, as the service is banned in that country and their consumer purchasing power is increasing. The hospital group also offers VO2MAX, which checks athlete’s oxygen consumption when they exercise, hair restoration services, vaccinations for expats going abroad, and acupuncture. On this last service, she insisted Samitivej followed a mix of modern and alternative care. “We believe in a blend of care, with both Western and Asian therapies, as acupuncture and herbs can sometimes reduce the amount of medicines you need to ingest,” said Dr Somsiri. “Even at Harvard and Stanford medical schools, integrative medicine is part of the curriculum. Pills can often heal a problem, but they also have side effects. I went to China a while back and watched a world-leading doctor cure patients of cancer with a mix of modern and traditional Chinese practices.” She added that it is normal for doctors to become hospital managers in Thailand, “because doctors don’t like to be managed, and we understand them. Besides, the doctors are the key as to whether a hospital is successful.” Samitivej won a Best Employer award from Sasin Graduate business school, which Dr Somsiri credited to setting up a happy workplace, as employee reviews formed the basis of the award criteria. The hospital has also received several certifications of distinction, which all point to the institution’s international standard of care.
Dr Somsiri Sakolsatayadorn