The conversations of life

Exporting Australia’s health and aged care know-how


Last weekend a Chinese health and pharmaceutical company paid $938 million to buy Australia’s third largest private hospital operator, Healthe Care. They want more than just to own Australian health services and expertise – they want to export them.

This points to a little talked about success that Australia is enjoying internationally – as leaders and exporters of health and care know-how.

For example, the Australian architectural firm, Thomson Adsett, is the leader in hospital and aged care design in Asia with projects like Singapore General Hospital and multiple projects in China such as Wuxi International Health City with 2,200 residential apartments, a 1400-bed international hospital and a 600-bed elderly care and mental health facility.

The Victorian not-for-profit home care operator RDNS (Royal District Nursing Service) has signed a major joint venture agreement with China’s Zhongshan College to develop and operate an aged care facility in Jiangsu Province, north of Shanghai. It will include 1,500 integrated care places, a 400 bed hospital and links to the college’s education faculty.

Melbourne retirement village consultants, Independent Management Group, has been contracted to lead the development of a 9,000 unit development in north-east China.

Retirement village operator Aveo is just completing the development of a 2,500 unit village in Shanghai with local Chinese partners.

Ramsay Health Care is the largest private hospital group in France with 115 facilities (101 hospitals). It has over 23,000 staff; cares for over 1.5 million patients; delivers close to 30,000 babies and sees over 400,000 emergency department presentations each year. It is a leader in mental health care with over 30 dedicated facilities across the country.

The success of Ramsay takes us back to the beginning story, the purchase of Healthe Care. The buyer is Luye Medical, part of the multi-billion-dollar privately owned Chinese group. This is their first hospital investment and they state they wish to take the company’s expertise into not only China but to lead substantial growth throughout Asia.

A new kind of Aussie export

What does the export of health and aged care mean for Australia? Very simply, it generates significant export income with very little upfront investment.

Unlike mining and agriculture which requires massive upfront investment to build facilities and historically has required overseas finance and ownership, the intellectual property of ‘health’is home grown with virtually no capital required. We are exporting our knowledge and our people (and these people are likely to return home).

Even better, with each ‘export’ we learn more and improve our ‘international health brand’, stretching our lead over competitors with each project. It’s a perfect circle.

We Australians can only benefit because this experience will feed back into our own health services. It also delivers on the government’s mantra that we must reinvent ourselves, moving our reliance from what’s in the ground to what we can simply ‘create’.

Health is good news, in more ways than the obvious.

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