Hong Kong - Country Commercial Guide
Healthcare

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country.  Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2022-01-20

Overview

The table shows trade data for medical equipment in Hong Kong.

 

2018

2019

2020

2021 (estimated)

Total Market Size 

535

756

841

860

Total Local Production 

420

567

793

952

Total Exports 

2,467

2,467

2,979

3,724

Total Imports 

2,582

2,656

3,027

3,632

Imports from the U.S. 

555

489

510

551

Exchange Rate: 1 USD 

7.8

7.8

7.8

7.8

values: USD million

Data Sources: Hong Kong Census & Statistics Department

(Medical equipment refers to instruments and apparatus under HS code 9018, 9019, 9020, 9021, 9022, 9025 and 9402.)

Healthcare services in Hong Kong are provided by both the private sector and the government-funded public sector. Public medical services are provided by the Department of Health and the Hospital Authority (HA.) Services are delivered through 43 public hospitals, 48 specialist clinics, and 73 general outpatient clinics.  To help combat the COVID-19 pandemic, a temporary infection control hospital was opened in early 2021.  In 2019, there were a total of 41,474 hospital beds in the city, including 28,929 beds in 43 public hospitals, 4,657 beds in 12 private hospitals, and the remainder in nursing homes and correctional institutions. The bed-to-population ratio is 5.5 beds per thousand of population the third highest in Asia.  Hong Kong’s total expenditure on healthcare amounted to US$22.7 billion or 6.2 percent of GDP in 2020 and is among the highest in Asia.

The HA is the largest end-user of goods and services in Hong Kong’s healthcare sector.  In the government’s 2021/22 budget, an additional US$480 million was allotted to the HA to meet the increasing demand for healthcare services.  As a result of heavy government subsidies, the HA can offer relatively high-quality services at minimal charge.  Patients only pay an out-of-pocket fee of US$16 per day for inpatient stays in Hospital Authority institutions and US$2 for each prescription drug item. Given the much lower cost of services relative to the private sector, services provided by the Hospital Authority are always in high demand and can often experience long wait times.  

To cope with a rapidly aging population, the Hong Kong Government has increased its funding for public healthcare. For fiscal year 2021-22, US$14.8 billion has been allocated to recurrent healthcare expenditures, accounting for 15.9 percent of total government recurrent expenditure. Other resources devoted to enhancing government medical services include expediting the upgrading or acquisition of medical equipment, introduction of advanced medical devices, and the promotion of primary healthcare services. 

 Hong Kong has started two back-to-back 10-year hospital development plans, amounting to US$64 billion, to enable the Hospital Authority to expand and upgrade healthcare facilities. The first 10-year plan is estimated to cost US$25.6 billion and will be completed by 2027. The second 10-year plan is budgeted at US$38.4 billion. Projects will include providing 15,000 additional hospital beds, over 90 operating theatres, the redevelopment and expansion of 11 hospitals, and construction of a new acute general hospital to meet projected service demand by 2036. This new hospital will house the first neuroscience center in Hong Kong.  

Approximately 16 percent of Hong Kong’s population is aged 65 or above, and this age group is expected to surge from the current 1.27 million to 2.37 million by 2036, which will constitute 31 percent of the total population.  An aging population will increase the prevalence of chronic diseases. In response, the Hospital Authority will strengthen ambulatory services, including a phased plan to construct ambulatory care centers and community health centers, and to improve clinic facilities. The Government will establish a framework to implement measures on disease prevention, disease screening and identification (especially chronic diseases) by making use of big data analytics.  

In April 2019, the Hong Kong Government implemented the Voluntary Health Insurance Scheme to encourage citizens to purchase health insurance and provide more choices for users of private healthcare services.  The Government also introduced tax deductions for taxpayers who purchased Certified Plans for themselves and/or specified relatives. 

In Macau, healthcare services are provided by two public hospitals - Hospital Conde de S. Januário and Macau University Hospital (an institution established under the Macau University of Science and Technology Foundation), and two private hospital - Kiang Wu Hospital, and the Macau Yinkui Hospital, 10 public clinics, and 319 healthcare establishments, with 2,066 hospital beds. The Macau SAR budget available for the Health Bureau increased 8 per cent to MOP9 billion (US$1.1 billion) in 2020.   Macau has a population of 649,335 in 2020, of which 12 percent are aged 65 or above. By 2031, this ratio is projected to increase to 18.6 percent. The Macau Government is anticipated to continue increasing healthcare expenditures to improve its healthcare system.  

The Hong Kong medical equipment market size was worth US$841 million in 2020. Hong Kong’s medical equipment imports in 2020 amounted to US$3.02 billion. The United States was the market leader in the high-end market segment, capturing 17 percent of the total import market.  The U.S. is one of the leading suppliers of advanced radiation equipment, and ultrasound diagnostic equipment to hospitals in Hong Kong.

Medicines and pharmaceutical products must be registered with the Department of Health’s Pharmacy and Poisons Board prior to their sale in Hong Kong. The registration process takes approximately 9-15 months and costs between US$5,000-$10,000.  The Medical Device Control Office (MDCO) regulates the use of medical devices in Hong Kong. Though registration is currently voluntary, both private and government hospitals generally prefer to use approved devices that has a MDCO listing number.  U.S. manufacturers who intend to sell to their devices to hospitals in Hong Kong are encouraged to register. Registration takes approximately two months and costs between US$2,000-$5,000.  The voluntary registration scheme is intended as a phase-in of mandatory registration.  MDCO has already set up the Medical Device Administrative Control System to facilitate the transition.   

Leading Sub-Sectors 

  • In Vitro Diagnostic Equipment and Reagents 
  • Implantable and Intervention Materials
  • Therapeutic Products 
  • Imaging Products 
  • Surgery and Emergency Appliances 
  • Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation Equipment 
  • Geriatric Specialized Products 
  • Home-Use Medical Equipment 
  • Orthopedic Implants and Instruments 
  • Dental Implants and Instruments 

 Opportunities 

Hospital Authority tenders: Hong Kong’s public and private healthcare development projects represent outstanding business opportunities for U.S. suppliers of hospital systems, medical devices, laboratory equipment, instruments and hospital supplies. The Hospital Authority procures through public tendering process. Check for Hospital Authority’s notices and invitations for expression of interest.

 Future Hospital Development: To ease constraints on the public healthcare system, the general public is encouraged to make use of private medical facilities when possible, and additional land will be allocated for private hospital development.  Interested hospital developers, designers, and equipment suppliers may contact us to remain apprised of development plans in this sector. 

Preventative and elder care: The people of Hong Kong and Macau are becoming more health-conscious and focusing more on preventive care, which increasingly includes routine vaccinations and screening for various cancers, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes, prenatal care, and regular wellness visits. The rapidly aging populations of both Hong Kong and Macau will require elder care facilities such as nursing homes and rehabilitation centers, as well as hospital and consumer healthcare products for the elderly. 

Digital healthcare solutions and eCommerce: Following the outbreak of CoVid-19 in Hong Kong in early 2020, demand for digital healthcare solutions and home health products have accelerated.  The eCommerce activity of non-pharmaceutical healthcare products such as dietary supplements have also increased as residents purchase more vitamins for boosting their immune system.  

Pearl River Delta region, also known as the Greater Bay Area: In November 2019, the Chinese Government announced a policy to allow certain drugs and medical devices approved in Hong Kong, but not yet approved by the China National Medical Product Administration, to be used within designated facilities (i.e., Hong Kong-owned healthcare institutions) in the Greater Bay Area.  This initiative provides the U.S. companies who have been selling their pharmaceutical products and medical devices in Hong Kong and Macau a stepping-stone into the bigger market in the Pearl River Delta region of Guangzhou and Shenzhen (which has a population of 70 million), without the need to go through the product registration processes in China.  The implementation of this pilot has so far seen one drug and one medical device approved for use at the Hong Kong University-Shenzhen hospital. This a burgeoning opportunity for U.S. pharmaceutical, biomedical, and health technology companies to register their products in Hong Kong with a view to expanding their business in the Pearl River Delta region.   

Agents and Distributors: The best practice for U.S. exporters of pharmaceutical products, and medical equipment and devices to expand into Macau markets is to use Hong Kong-based agents and distributors, given the relatively smaller size of Macau and the proximity of the two markets. The U.S. Commercial Service has contact with Hong Kong distributors of healthcare products and can introduce U.S. companies to these distributors. Many of Hong Kong’s medical agents/distributors have established networks and excellent relationships with the medical industry in Macau.  Local agents and distributors can be helpful in marketing U.S. healthcare products in Hong Kong and in mainland China. 

U.S. companies that are required to appoint a Locally Responsible Person (LRP). This LRP can be the Hong Kong distributor or an independent third party but must be based in Hong Kong. The LRPs serve as intermediaries and regularly communicate with end-users, importers, the Hong Kong Government. These LRPs can help U.S. exporters to ensure safe and efficacious use of their products in Hong Kong and Macau.

Resources 

Trade Shows: 

Hong Kong International Medical and Healthcare Fair 

 

Government Agencies: 

Hong Kong Department of Health Drug Office 

Hong Kong Department of Health - Medical Device Control Office 

Hong Kong Hospital Authority  

Macau Health Bureau 

The Hong Kong Medical Association  

The Private Hospitals Association 

 

For more information about this industry sector, please contact:  

U.S. Commercial Service, Hong Kong 

Gary Kwan, Senior Commercial Specialist 

Email: gary.kwan@trade.gov