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StarMed Specialist Centre provides one-stop ambulatory care

Setting up StarMed is in line with mainboard-listed HMI's regional growth strategy

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'We are delighted to partner with doctors who share our vision in providing quality healthcare at competitive prices.' - Chin Wei Jia, Group Chief Executive Officer of HMI Group.

WHILE expert specialists with long years of clinical experience are the backbone of any successful medical practice, effective top level management leadership with vision and ability to spot emerging trends is necessary to take the business to new heights. This is the forte of Ms Chin Wei Jia, Group Chief Executive Officer of HMI Group, which is a growing private healthcare provider with a regional presence in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Ms Chin was appointed as an Executive Director of HMI Group in October 2014 and as Group Chief Executive Officer of HMI Group in September 2015. As Group CEO, she oversees and leads the strategic and operational activities of the Group. She is also the Managing Director of 340-bed capacity Mahkota Medical Centre ("Mahkota") and 218-bed capacity Regency Specialist Hospital ("Regency") in Malaysia, which are the two pillars of the Group's business.

To grow HMI's business, Ms Chin recently spearheaded the Group's entry into the Singapore private healthcare sector with the establishment of StarMed Specialist Centre ("StarMed"), a new one-stop ambulatory care centre. Globally, there has been an increasing trend towards ambulatory care as dedicated facilities like it today can provide high-quality, cost-effective, convenient and comfortable experiences for patients and their families.

"StarMed taps into this growing global trend towards procedures being done outside of the traditional hospital setting. Surgeries such as knee replacements, which once required several days stay in a hospital, can now be performed safely overnight in ambulatory care centres, says Ms Chin.

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In Singapore, the number of surgical procedures done came to over 800,000 in 2016 with day procedures contributing to about 37 per cent of the total. The growth in day procedures has continued to outpace inpatient procedures, growing at a 16-year cumulative average growth rate of 7.6 per cent as compared to 2.1 per cent growth in inpatient procedures.

This trend is set to continue as many procedures are subsidised by the Ministry of Health (MOH) and patients are increasingly taking up day surgeries for the convenience of same-day discharge. Furthermore, due to the bed crunch scenario facing hospitals today, the MOH and hospitals alike are focused on increasing day surgeries to reduce bed occupancy rates. Worldwide, overall procedure volume has shifted dramatically from inpatient to an outpatient and day care setting due to its convenience and accessibility.

Ms Chin says the establishment of StarMed is in line with HMI's regional growth strategy. "The investment allowed us to enter the private healthcare landscape in Singapore with a group of experienced specialists, as we look to continue serving the rising healthcare needs of the region. More importantly, we are delighted to partner with doctors who share our vision in providing quality healthcare at competitive prices."

There are many advantages for a patient to visit a one-stop ambulatory care centre like StarMed as its facilities were built based on exacting hospital standards, and offers medical and surgical procedures to patients at competitive costs, often with greater scheduling flexibility than hospitals.

"Patients can see a specialist doctor, immediately get their diagnostic tests (such as radiology and laboratory investigations) done on-site, and if needed can undergo an endoscopy or surgical procedure all within the same day. At StarMed, patients can undergo elective surgical procedures during the day and recover at home if overnight observation is not required. In addition, there may be less risk of infection in an ambulatory care centre as opposed to a hospital setting," says Ms Chin. As estimated by the World Health Organization, reported by The Straits Times in an October 2018 article, 1 in 10 patients worldwide could catch a bug while in hospital.

StarMed is strategically located above the Farrer Park MRT station and co-located with the 300-room Park Hotel Farrer Park. Simply put, StarMed is a one-stop quality private healthcare solution where diagnosis to treatment is facilitated within one day in one centre.

Ms Chin highlights that StarMed's focus is on the provision of specialist medical services, minimally invasive surgeries, endoscopy services as well as comprehensive health screening and lifestyle management services. The team at StarMed comprises experienced specialist consultants supported by specialised nurses and allied health professionals. StarMed's Medical Director is Dr Peter Ting, a cardiologist with special interest in preventive and lifestyle therapy programmes to reverse or slow progression of coronary artery disease and other chronic diseases.

StarMed has more than 30 specialist consultants specialising in medical fields such as cardiology, urology, general surgery, gastroenterology, orthopedics, diagnostic and interventional radiology.

Ms Chin says that StarMed's multi-disciplinary team of specialists doctors are supported by a medical centre, diagnostic and interventional radiology centre, day surgery centre and endoscopy centre that enables patients to be diagnosed and treated within one day. StarMed's Day Surgery Centre is a one-stop centre that caters to a variety of surgical procedures that do not require admission into the hospital. Its operating theatres were built to exacting hospital specifications and were further customised and equipped to cater to minimally invasive surgeries. StarMed's Endoscopy Centre also offers a comprehensive range of endoscopy services.

StarMed currently spans over 16,000 square feet across four floors. In October 2018, HMI announced that it was buying an additional 6,700 square feet of space. Currently, StarMed is in the process of expanding into two additional floors, with the development of a comprehensive health screening centre and creation of additional single and deluxe patient rooms to cater to an increasing patient load.

Importantly, "StarMed provides diagnostic and day surgery facilities. The Radiology Centre provides a comprehensive range of diagnostic and interventional radiology services, and is equipped with a full suite of imaging equipment. This includes the first installation of SOMATOM Drive CT scanner in Singapore, which provides clear images with lower radiation dosage. Furthermore, we are one of the only private ambulatory care centres in Singapore with an Angiography Suite," says Ms Chin.

Following its founding in 1998, HMI was listed on the SGX-Sesdaq in 1999. The Group went on to acquire a 20 per cent stake in Mahkota Medical Centre, Melaka, a then loss-making hospital in 2000. By 2001, the Group achieved a turnaround of Mahkota and raised its interest in the hospital to 40 per cent.

In 2002, the Group opened the HMI Institute of Health Sciences, a Skills Future Singapore-accredited Continuing Education and Training Centre for the healthcare support sector. To date, the institute has trained more than 4,500 healthcare professionals and 160,000 individuals in emergency life-saving skills.

HMI was subsequently upgraded to the mainboard of SGX in 2008, shortly after acquiring a 35 per cent equity stake in Regency Specialist Hospital, a vacant hospital building at that time.

Fast forwarding to 2017, the Group reached its next significant milestone with the consolidation of the ownership in Mahkota and Regency to 100 per cent for S$183 million via a mix of cash and shares.

Since the consolidation of ownership in Mahkota and Regency to 100 per cent, HMI has continued its growth trajectory through the acquisition of a 70 per cent stake in StarMed and more recently, through an investment in Plus Medical Holdings, a chain of primary care clinics in Singapore. Across the Group, HMI has 200 specialist doctors, 1,600 employees and a patient load of more than 450,000 per year.

HMI is led by Executive Chairman Dr Gan See Khem, Group Chief Executive Officer Ms Chin Wei Jia, Chief Financial Officer Ms Yow Lee Chan and Chief Investment Officer Mr Chin Wei Yao. Under the second-generation leadership of Ms Chin and Mr Chin, the Group has seen substantial improvements in returns to its shareholders, including an increase in profit by more than 204.5 per cent from FY2016 to FY2018 and an improvement of HMI's market capitalisation by more than 164.9 per cent over the same period.