Mr. Pipit Aneknithi, Managing Director Kasikorn Bank said that before the outbreak of COVID-19 Thailand’s main income is from being one of the world’s leading tourist destinations. Especially medical tourism or Medical Tourism as a medical center or Medical Hub of the Asian region. Medical tourists coming to Thailand in 2017 accounted for 38% of all medical tourists in Asia.
However, the number of medical tourists continued to slow down. Even before the spread of COVID-19 The growth rate has slowed from 13% in 2017 to only 0.3% in 2019. The key question is how can medical tourism continue to be strong? To hold a position as a long-term global medical destination
There are three issues and challenges of medical tourism in Thailand:
1. Structural problems that Thailand focuses on treating uncomplicated diseases and emphasizing service strengths rather than the use of technology and specialized treatments. Limited number of medical personnel And it will not increase enough to support the domestic demand that will rise rapidly from the problem of aging society.
Including the cost of importing medicines and medical supplies. In 2020, it was found that Thailand imported medicines and medical supplies worth more than 160 billion baht, accounting for 70% of the total cost of medicines and medical supplies. causing loss of opportunity to use these budgets to research and develop innovative medicines by Thai people
2. The outbreak of COVID-19 affect overall tourism And medical tourism is inevitable. It is estimated that by 2024, or about 4 more years, the number of medical tourists will recover back to normal at 1.2-1.3 million people per year
3. Intense competition from regional countries Compared to countries that promote medical tourism as a star industry, such as South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand’s strength is found in the cost of medical care. which is at a competitive level and compared to the treatment in the United States Thailand will save more than 82%. Moreover, Thai medical tourism is at the forefront of Asia.
At present, there are more than 66 hospitals that have passed JCI or Joint Commission International standards. began to compete in this market even more. Investments have also begun to build a comprehensive medical center such as Dubai Health Care City (DHCC) to serve the needs of the Middle East region.
From the above issues and challenges Therefore, it is believed that it is time for Thailand to transform itself from quantity-focused medical tourism to sustainable medical tourism, focusing on quality, expertise and technology to become a business that can drive the Thai economy in the future. long term At the same time, it helps to increase the medical potential of the country. Support the aging society of Thailand and reduce the cost of health care for the government
There are 4 factors that will help elevate Thailand to become a World-Class Medical Hub:
Factor 1 Promotion of Health Tech Ecosystem
– The use of technology to develop services and achieve actual use which the spread of COVID-19 It is a catalyst for the transformation of medical models into more online formats. This is reflected in telemedicine services. (Telemedicine) that is on the rise during COVID-19 can help people access medical services more conveniently and as an opportunity to earn money Reduce the burden on the health system that is about to bear the burden of aging society as well. Examples of health tech in foreign countries are interesting, for example, in China, there is a Ping An Good Doctor platform to provide comprehensive health services. Currently, Ping An Good Doctor has 400 million registered users, generating over $1 billion in revenue.
– Serious support for the health tech startup ecosystem in Thailand Currently, Thailand has a health tech startup ecosystem that covers both medicine. Medicines from medicinal plants that are researched and developed from modern science and technology. physical therapy services, drug delivery, long-distance hospitals Network of doctors, etc., if there is funding, can enhance capacity, create a big and realistic business model. It will be able to upgrade the medical services of Thailand to be better.
Factor 2 towards Genomic Medicines
– Genomics is a medical innovation that uses individual genetic information in combination with other health information. used to diagnose, treat and predict risk factors that cause disease including the treatment of chronic diseases at the cellular level Therefore, the patient can be treated precisely, precisely and has the opportunity to be cured from chronic diseases that are expensive.
– Promoting genomics medicine will help upgrade Thai treatment to precision medical services. Using technology to treat more complex diseases Therefore, it is an opportunity to generate higher income from the medical tourism group. And with this advancement, people’s health care will be more efficient. Thus, it can help reduce health expenditures in the country, which are largely the burden of the government. It is predicted that the adoption of genomics medicine Thailand will be able to save more than 300 billion baht in health expenditures in 2037, or more than 1% of GDP.
Factor 3 Government Support
– The Thailand Medical Hub Strategic Plan is the role of the government to push Especially in the production of skilled personnel with more specific expertise. and promoting research to enable Thailand to create unique Thai medical products. mix technology enter the industry To elevate the medical center of Thailand to the next level. ready to meet the needs of consumers in the post-Covid-19 era
– Investment promotion through BOI, which clearly sees the trend The government focuses on promoting investment in specialized services and high-technology services. They will receive tax exemption benefits for up to 8 years, which is an opportunity for service providers in this business to invest.
– Issuing a policy to promote a 10-year long-stay visa for foreigners in line with the direction of the world that is entering an aging society
Factor 4 Investment by a private company (Corporate Venture)
The country’s leading conglomerates invest in both technology and capital. Started to provide health and medical business services. in various forms such as medical center services, telemedicine services, pharmaceutical companies, if leading private companies see potential in health tech groups, which are small service providers with innovative strengths including seeing opportunities from genomics medicine It will be extended to provide services in a larger size. and lead Thailand to become a sustainable regional medical center faster.
If Thailand can integrate technology potential along with support from government policies and investment from the private sector with high potential Upgrading the country’s medical services to become the world’s leading medical center in a sustainable manner It is certainly possible
Healthcare Industry It will become an important service sector in generating income into the country. and drive the economy in the future In addition, Thai people will have the opportunity to access medical services more easily and economically through technology. Reduce the burden of government expenditure on long-term health care
In 2019, Thailand’s medical tourism generates a revenue of 23.5 billion baht, and it is expected that by 2037 it will generate 150 billion baht in revenue for the country.