'Reasonable' fees at new hospital
THE new Farrer Park Hospital (FPH) will aim to offer affordable private healthcare, its chief executive officer Timothy Low has told The Straits Times.
Due to be officially opened next month, it will control its own prices though not the rates of its specialists.
However, Dr Low said the hospital will try to attract "more amenable" doctors with a similar pricing philosophy.
"Healthcare in Singapore is getting very expensive for both locals and foreigners," he added. "We felt that we needed to provide good medical services to patients, at a price they can afford."
Dr Low said the starting consultation price for FPH's emergency clinic will start from a "very reasonable" $60 while other hospitals charge upwards of $100.
Ward charges at FPH start at $251 for a four-bed ward, as compared with $276 at Mount Elizabeth Orchard.
"A few years ago, the Indonesians and Malaysians, for instance, would come and pay whatever rates we charged. Now, they will actually calculate and see if they can afford it, or if they should go elsewhere in the region," said Dr Low, who cited currency fluctuations as one possible factor in the patients' decisions.
He was chief executive of Gleneagles Hospital from 2000 to 2006. The 54-year-old has also worked in areas including pharmaceuticals and the medical devices industry.
FPH was founded by a group of former Parkway Hospitals doctors.
Designed to hold 220 beds, it is opening its wards in stages. It has hired nearly 600 staff to date and this will increase to 800 when all the wards are fully operational.
The hospital's construction started eight years ago on the site where former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew held his first "Merdeka" (Malay for independence) rally speech.
"Our emergency clinic is the only accident and emergency (A&E) in the vicinity," added Dr Low. "The nearest ones, at Tan Tock Seng Hospital and KK Women's and Children's Hospital, are among the busiest A&Es in Singapore, and we think we can alleviate some of the load."
The $800 million complex is equipped with the latest smart systems. Doctors, for instance, have tablets and phones linked to the hospital systems. They can get real-time updates of diagnostic scans, X-rays and blood-test results of their patients, and can order medications on the go.
"Technologically, we are equipped to enable the smooth flow of information to all stakeholders," he said.