Sami­tivej Hos­pi­tals: Let­ting ser­vice speak for it­self

Norway-Asia Business Review - - Contents - By Eric Baker

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

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