Healthcare to Thailand
Trends and opportunities
Thailand is well-positioned to be a medical hub of Asia, with already a
highly regarded medical sector. This is set to be boosted through policies
aimed at promoting ‘Thailand, a hub of wellness and medical services’ over
a ten-year time frame from 2016-2025, which is accompanied by Thai Board of
Investment (BOI) promoting foreign investment in local manufacturing of
Demand for healthcare services in Thailand is driven by an ageing
population, extensive healthcare coverage, universal insurance since 2001
plus a large medical tourism industry.
Thailand’s healthcare market was worth A$ 32.4 billion in 2015, with A$ 4.41
billion in private health spending. There are over 320 private hospitals
accounting for 23 per cent of all hospitals in Thailand (Source:
Thailand Pharmaceuticals & Healthcare Report Q3 2016, Business
Generally, the upper-middle class of the population pay for quicker
services (and better facilities) at private hospitals. An exception to this
are Thailand’s highly regarded university hospitals which serve people of
all levels of society; are often better equipped with new devices and
equipment than both public and private hospitals; and are staffed with
esteemed medical practitioners/professors.
Key private healthcare providers in Thailand are:
Bangkok Dusit Medical Services (BDMS):
is Thailand’s largest medical services operator and is the leader healthcare solution provider. BDMS owns and manages six major hospital
groups: Bangkok Hospital, Samitivej Hospital, BNH Hospital, Phyathai
Hospital, Paolo Memorial Hospital and the Royal Hospital with a number of
hospitals in areas such as Pattaya, Phuket, Samui and Cambodia.
BDMS plans to spend A$ 167.6 million over the next three years to expand
the Bangkok Hospital. This facility provides tertiary care, with neurology,
orthopaedics, and spine specialty centers.
With an aim to capture the business opportunities in preventive medicine,
longevity and anti-aging, BDMS is also developing a medical center which
will be the first holistic healthcare center in Asia (Source:
Thailand Medical Devices Report Q1 2018, Business Monitor International).
Bumrungrad International Hospital: Bumrungrad International is a
Joint Commission International accredited
, multi-specialty hospital located in the heart of Bangkok. Bumrungrad is
one of the largest private hospitals in Southeast Asia, with 580 beds and
30 specialty centers , and offers state-of-the-art diagnostics, therapeutic and intensive care
facilities as a one-stop medical center.
The Thai government promotes Thailand as a medical tourism hub, focusing on
medical treatments, health promotion, traditional and alternative medicine,
and health-related products (specifically Thai herbs).
Thailand’s advanced private healthcare facilities attract large numbers of
medical tourists. Joint Commission International (JCI) accreditation is
sought after by these facilities to demonstrate the high standards of care
delivery. While upholding high standards, the cost of medical services in
Thailand is very competitive, with medical procedures estimated to be 30 to 40
per cent cheaper than in Australia.
The medical tourism industry receives strong and continuous support from
government agencies such as the Immigration Office, the Tourism Authority
of Thailand, the Ministry of Public Health and the Thai Board of
According to Frost & Sullivan’s report on
SEA Healthcare Market Trends and Opportunities in 2016, the healthcare IT market in Thailand is projected to be around A$ 80
million in 2017.
Key factors affecting growth of the healthcare IT market are medical
tourism and the advancement of the internet and technology. Thai hospitals
are also upgrading IT infrastructure to maintain and obtain JCI
Thailand has several initiatives under the Ministry of Public Health and
the new Ministry of Digital Economy and Society to develop the health IT
Connecting 9,000 sub-district hospitals nationwide with high speed
Centralising databases with patients’ health profiles
Developing big data analytics capability e.g in preparation for
By only 2021 Thailand will be considered an aged society with 20 per cent
of the population 60 years and older. By 2035 this will be 30 per cent;
making Thailand a super-aged society (Source:
Department of Older Persons
the Kasikorn Thai Report 2016 on Thailand’s Silver Economy, Thailand has 7.1 million elderly people (age 65+), the second highest as
a proportion of population in ASEAN. This is driving an estimated 3 per cent annual
growth in the population (age 70+) who will need elderly care products and
The market for international elderly care in Thailand is growing rapidly at
approximately 20 per cent growth driven by the elderly from countries i.e Middle East,
Japan, US and Europe retiring or seeking long stay care in Thailand.
With this rapidly aging society and international visitors and residents,
Thailand offers high potential for elderly care business opportunities
including within nursing homes, in-home care services, care worker training
and home medical equipment.
The main opportunities in the sector for Australian suppliers are for
technologies, products or services which support Thailand’s growing medical
tourism, digital health transformation and aging population care needs.
International-standard medical devices, products and services to
healthcare facilities which cater for international medical tourists
Integrated Hospital Information Systems (HIS)
- Consultancy in managing retirement living facilities
- Niche products targeting day-to-day life of the Thai and foreign elderly
such as health and dietary supplements, F&B, assisted living (home)
furniture, e-health etc
- Education and training for hospital administrators in facilities
management, health informatics and other programs to up skill healthcare
Thailand continues to be dependent on imported products, with approximately
87 per cent of medical device equipment and accessories originating from
The healthcare sector is competitive and while demanding international
quality health and medical supplies, is also very price and value
conscious. The Thai Board of Investment (BOI) will promote the manufacture
of pharmaceuticals and medical devices to strengthen competitiveness in
this industry (Source: BOI’s Thailand Investment review, April 2017).
Japan is developing a strong relationship with the sector. In January 2016
the Thai Ministry of Public Health and Japan International Cooperation
Agency (JICA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding on “The Partnership
Project for Global Health and Universal Health Coverage”. Participating in
the MoU is the National Health Security Office. Thailand and Japan have
formed a close relationship at a high level with the endorsement of the
Prime Minister’s Office. As part of government-to-government collaboration,
JICA has been providing training to Thai policy makers and healthcare
practitioners, particularly in area of elderly care.
Australian digital health capabilities are mostly new to the Thai health
sector. Most facilities rely on systems by US companies. A small number of
Australian companies have a presence in the market.
Marketing your products and services
Companies wishing to export medical device equipment into Thailand must
meet stringent requirements controlled by the Medical Devices Control
Division of the Food and Drug Administration within the Ministry of Public
Medical devices are categorized into three levels: general control,
pre-marketing notification, and pre-marketing approval.
- Producers, importers or distributors of general control (or category I)
devices do not need to have a license, although all medical devices sold in
Thailand require labeling with Thai text. This category includes items such
as surgical gloves and syringes
- Class II items, such as HIV test kits and rehabilitation devices, are
required to submit information on the product to the FDA and must have a
certificate of free sale in the country of manufacture
- Importers of category III devices must register with the FDA and have a
license for production, import or sale of the item
- Thailand’s FDA recognizes several foreign standards, including the USFDA
(US Food and Drug Administration), CE Mark (Europe) and the PAB
(Pharmaceutical Affairs Bureau of Japan). FDA monitoring does not stop with
import criteria, but extends into post marketing control to ensure that
such devices comply with medical device standards.
To be successful in the market:
Appoint a local agent or partner to manage issues with regards to
regulations, government procedures, local business practices and marketing
- Refer to your success in other markets, especially in Asia
- Visit the market regularly for in-person meetings with your local agent,
partner and customers. Developing a relationship is important in Thai
Links and industry contacts
Food and Drug Administration
Ministry of Digital Economy and Society
Ministry of Public Health
National Health Security Office
Tourism Authority of Thailand – Health and wellness
Thai Health Promotion Foundation
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