2016 has seen a number of notable developments in Cambodia’s medical sector. The opening of the new Khema Clinic last month, located in the city’s central BKK1 neighborhood, is undoubtedly one of them. We had a chat with the clinic’s director Dr. Som Leakhena to learn more about the new facility and the medical industry in general here.
B2B: Why did it make sense to open a second Khema clinic in Phnom Penh, and why did you choose the BKK1 neighborhood?
Dr. Som: The decision was made based on the exceptional results of our first clinic in Toul Kork, which we opened in May 2012. We got very good scores and feedback from national and international insurance firms, and the clinic currently ranks second among private healthcare providers in the city. We decided we needed to expand, but our building in Toul Kork was not big enough. We opted for BKK1 because it’s a residential area with a lot of expats who can afford the high quality healthcare that we offer. Also, we wanted to make life easier for our patients by opening a clinic right in the heart of the city, where they can easily reach us.
You mentioned the success of the first clinic. To what would you attribute this success?
Expats are attracted to our healthcare facilities because our doctors are highly qualified. We are all specialists. We boast specialists in general medicine, emergency services, cardiology, ICU, surgery, lung disease, chronic disease, and many more. Also of importance is the fact that most of our doctors can speak English and French, which always makes foreign patients feel more comfortable, and facilitates the process of dealing with the insurance company.
How many doctors do you employ, and how many of them are foreigners or have trained or practised medicine abroad?
In the Toul Kork clinic we have 25 doctors, both part-time and full-time. 90 percent of them are Cambodians that have practised medicine abroad for some years before coming back home. The new clinic is bigger. We have 35 doctors; 95 percent of them have trained or worked abroad for at least one year. We also have a few foreign doctors working with us who earned their diplomas in Germany, Russia and other countries. We work with a number of international partners as well. A team of urologists and another team of ENT (ear, nose and throat) doctors, both from France, visit us regularly and have consultations in the clinic. An Australian team, Happy Kids, is running our rehabilitation center on the ninth floor. Finally, we also cooperate with a very famous Singaporean gastrointestinal specialist who, like the French teams, comes to our office on a regular basis to conduct consultations.
What facilities and services does the new facility offer?
Spread over 10 floors, our facilities are apt for the practice of 36 medical specialties, including emergency services, cardiology, internal medicine, dermato-oncology, family medicine, gastrointestinal medicine, gynecology, orthopedics, neurology, pediatrics and maternal-fetal medicine. Our equipment and facilities include ICUs, intermediate ICUs, a surgery ICU, an advanced medical laboratory, a cath lab (catherizaton laboratory), two delivery rooms (for natural delivery and medically assisted delivery), an ambulance and a pharmacy open 24/7. We can perform CT scans, X-ray scans, mammograms, ultrasound scans, C-sections, endoscopies and spine surgery. Soon, we will also have installed a telemedicine system to enable cooperation with doctors in other countries and allow our patients access to a second opinion.
How do you see medical care developing in Cambodia, and what areas do you think need the most urgent improvement?
The system has improved immensely in the last 10 years. Private providers in the Kingdom are delivering a standard of healthcare that is very close to what you’d find in Thailand or Vietnam. The equipment and facilities available are slightly less advanced, but we are not too far off from being on par. However, more time is needed to increase the trust of Cambodian patients on our healthcare system. Also, not all specialties are available in the Kingdom yet. For example, there is no speech therapy programs run by locals—we still need foreigners to come here and train people in these disciplines. Organ transplants cannot be performed here either. Although neurosurgery is available in Cambodia, for certain rarer brain conditions, the patient will need to go abroad.
Do you see the trend of locals and expats seeking medical attention abroad decreasing or increasing?
It is decreasing. Less people are going abroad for medical service and to do check-ups. This is because the quality of the medical services available within Cambodia is rising.
How about medical tourism. Is Cambodia attracting patients from overseas?
I think it is too early to speak of medical tourism in Cambodia. Perhaps you can talk of medical tourism in Cambodia when it comes to dental services. Dentists in the Kingdom are now starting to grow their reputation regionally and internationally. This is partially due to the fact that dental services are very expensive in the West and usually not covered by national healthcare schemes. Right now, I hear people from Australia and the US are visiting Cambodia and getting treatment for their teeth. It’s not happening at a large scale, but it’s happening. When it comes to other medical disciplines, however, I would say it’s too early.
The opening of this clinic is a notable development for Cambodia’s medical sector. What other recent developments in the sector would you highlight?
I think the medical infrastructure is growing fast in the country. Sunrise Japanese Hospital, for example, was recently inaugurated. With very advanced equipment and Japanese standards of service, they are attracting a big portion of the wealthy population. They have great neurosurgeons as well.