When calling up Phyathai hospital it’s not a problem at all to get through to Mr. Fredrik. And when showing up at the hospital asking for Mr. Fredrik the receptionist opens up her face in a big smile. Apparently everybody knows Mr. Fredrik around here. When you meet the Swede it’s not such a big surprise. A tall foreigner walking around in a dark suit is not the everyday sight at the average Bangkok hospital. But the staff has gotten used to the outstanding farang, and Phyathai is after all not your average hospital in Bangkok.
Here on the 21st. floor where the better single rooms are situated it’s not far from comparison with a hotel. The rooms are decorated nicely, there’s a huge flat-screen television, lots of space – also for visitors, and there are even mini bars in the rooms as well. Guaranteed you wouldn’t find a beer inside the mini bar. This is about health care, and indeed this would not be the worst place to recover after an operation.
A leading hospital
Fredrik Öhrn got the position as Division Manager of International Business just four months ago. A new position at Phya Thai. Put shortly his job is to strengthen the awareness of the Phyathai hospitals among foreigners both in Thailand and also outside the Kingdom, and eventually attract more foreign customers as they are called in Thailand. In Europe they are still patients.
“Phyathai is one of the leading hospitals in Thailand and therefore it seemed natural for us to try and focus also on this relatively new trend, which they have done more focused over the last year. There is a very big market out there, and this is probably just the beginning of it all. The whole attitude towards medical travel is about to change. You would still see many professionals in for instance Scandinavia who would ask why a hospital has a marketing department.
This is slowly going to change”, says the 33 years old Swede, and explains that the globalization is a part of the reason medical travel is growing big.
“We travel a lot more than before and this sector has started off with tourists seeking out a good dentist at a good price while going on a holiday anyway, or get a health check-up which they have heard they can find at very attractive prices in Thailand for instance.
It is becoming popular for tourists to combine tourism and check-ups or even more advanced treatments as well, as more and more people experience that Thailand is a safe and pleasant place to have it done. The combination of a low cost of living in Thailand and the incomparable hospitality, make Bangkok and Phyathai a world class destination in this growing market”, says Fredrik Ohrn.
From Danderyd to Phyathai
Fredrik Ohrns wife Mia works at the Swedish embassy as a diplomat. The couple came here 16 months ago. Fredrik is not a novice within the hospital business. Educated as a nurse and having experience from Danderyd university hospital within the field of hospital marketing & communication, he tried to find out more about medical tourism business when he came to Bangkok. Via some marketing tasks he had for Swedish companies he got to know the management at Phyathai hospital. They eventually offered Fredrik Öhrn to come and work at the hospital.
“Phyathai is a very nice place to work. I’m impressed with the way its run. I find it extremely professional. Both doctors and nurses are very well trained and much of the staff have been trained overseas as well. We do have an agreement with Harvard University in Boston and benefit a lot from that, in terms of protocol and staff training.”
Besides the professionalism, there is a homely atmosphere at Phyathai as it is not a very big hospital. On the contrary there are actually four Phyathai hospitals in Thailand. Three in Bangkok; Phyathai 1 on Sri Ayutthaya Rd, Phyathai 2 on Phaholyothin Rd and Phyathai 3 on Phetchkasem Rd. Si Racha not so far from Pattaya is the location of the fourth Phyathai Hospital.”, says Fredrik Ohrn.
The popular choice among Thais Fredrik Ohrn may still be representing a hospital not that famous by foreigners. Traditionally people associate Bumrungrad hospital as the place foreigners go to. But Phyathai is extremely popular among Thais. In a recent survey 40.000 Thais were asked what hospital they would choose if they could. Phyathai came in as a clear number one. A fact not to overlook and according to Fredrik Ohrn, Phyathai aims to keep that position and focus on their core service which is healthcare for the local communities. The famous TV-doctor, Dr. Surapong might help keeping up Phyathais popularity. For 32 years he has been given health care advice every Saturday evening on Thai television.
From brain surgery to cosmetic treatments
But keeping focus on core values doesn’t mean you can’t develop. According to Fredrik Orhn Phyathai is a leading hospital especially when it comes to brain surgery where they utilize a new navigating system to identify tumors. Phyathai is leading in heart surgery and is also specialized in heart surgery on children which is not common at all in Thailand. A very professional dentist department is on the premises and when it comes to plastic surgery Phyathais plastic cosmetic center is capable of doing the job, any kind of job.
It can be difficult to measure the effect of marketing, especially after only four months of working. But in a happening and upcoming market it’s important to be in the forefront. Especially when insurance companies and social welfare sectors will start opening their eyes and look to the east. The prospects of outsourcing within the sector are big. Mr. Fredrik and Phyathai seem just ready.