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: 2021-03-04

Overview

Table:  trade data for medical equipment in Hong Kong.

 

2017

2018

2019

2020 (Jan - Apr)

Total Exports

2,299

2,467

2,467

866

Total Imports

2,236

2,582

2,656

959

Imports from the U.S.

520

555

489

165

Exchange Rate: 1 USD

7.8

7.8

7.8

7.8

Units: 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 run along a dual-track model, with services being provided by the private sector and government-funded public sector. Public medical services are provided by the Department of Health and the Hospital Authority. Services are delivered through 43 hospitals, 48 specialist clinics, and 73 general outpatient clinics. In 2019, there were 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 Hospital Authority is the largest end-user of goods and services in Hong Kong’s healthcare sector. Public expenditure on healthcare amounted to US$8.5 billion in fiscal year 2018/19. As a result of heavy government subsidies, the Hospital Authority 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.

Hong Kong’s service-based industries rely heavily on imports. Total medical equipment imports in 2019 amounted to US$2.66 billion. The United States was the market leader in the high-end market segment, capturing 18 percent of the total import market. Hong Kong is a medical products and equipment sourcing base for mainland China and other destinations. Accounting for 35 percent of Hong Kong’s medical product and equipment exports, mainland China is the largest market.

To cope with a rapidly aging population, the Hong Kong Government has increased its funding for public healthcare. For fiscal year 2020/21, US$9.6 billion has been allocated to recurrent healthcare expenditures, accounting for 13.9 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, expansion of the scope of drug formulary, and 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 be the first neuroscience center in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong’s population aged 65 or above is expected to surge from the current 1.27 million to 2.37 million by 2036, which will constitute a 31 percent increase of the total population. An aging population means a 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 improve clinic facilities. The Government will establish a framework to implement measures on disease prevention, disease screening and identification (especially chronic diseases) 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), one private hospital – Kiang Wu Hospital, 10 public clinics and 319 healthcare establishments with 2,066 hospital beds. Every Macau resident enjoys free primary healthcare services. The Macau Government’s total expenditure on medical and health services in 2018 was US$899 million (the latest available figure), an increase of 8 percent over 2017.  Macau has a population of 667,000 of which 11 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.

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 Medical Equipment
  • Orthopedic Implants and Instruments
  • Dental Implants and Instruments

Opportunities

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 notices and invitations for expression of interest.

To address an overburdened public healthcare system, the Hong Kong Government introduced a Voluntary Health Insurance Scheme. 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 should make contact with Hong Kong Government authorities and industry players to remain apprised of development plans in this sector.

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.

In November 2019, the Chinese Government announced a policy to allow drugs and common 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. The move is yet to be implemented, however, since the details are still under discussion between regulators from both sides. When finalized, the policy means that medical products may enter the Chinese market using Hong Kong as a springboard. This is a burgeoning opportunity for U.S. suppliers.

The best practice for U.S. exporters of pharmaceutical products, and medical equipment and devices to expand into the Hong Kong and 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. 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. exporters of healthcare products that do not have an office in Hong Kong 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 intermediary and communicate with the end-users, importers, the Hong Kong Government and the U.S. exporters to ensure safe and efficacious use of the products.

Resources

Trade Shows:

Hong Kong International Medical and Healthcare Fair

Government Agencies:

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

Kimmy Lee, Senior Commercial Specialist

Email: kimmy.lee@trade.gov