This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.
The Philippine healthcare system is shared between the public and private sectors. The pandemic allowed hospitals to upgrade and increase their facilities to cope with the situation. Public hospitals focus their efforts on preventive and primary care while also taking the lead in educating the public on health issues. On the other hand, private hospitals focus on specialized care for cardiovascular diseases, cancer, pulmonology, and orthopedics.
The Philippine Government signed Republic Act 11223 or the Universal Health Care (UHC) Law in 2019, allowing all Filipinos, including Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), access to healthcare services under the Government’s health insurance program (PhilHealth). The UHC aims to cover at least 50% of medical expenses to encourage Filipinos to visit specialty doctors and undergo advanced medical procedures.
The Philippine healthcare system continues to grow as many private equities pursue investments, acquire smaller hospitals, and upgrade hospital infrastructure. Large hospital groups continue to drive hospital development throughout the country and provide capital to upgrade facilities and modernize equipment. Most hospitals are in the Calabarzon region (Region 4-A), which includes the following provinces: Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, and Quezon, which are around 228 hospitals. Followed by Central Luzon’s (Region 3) seven provinces: Aurora, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Tarlac, and Zambales) with about 196 hospitals. The National Capital Region (Metropolitan Manila) includes sixteen independent cities and one independent municipality) with 186 hospitals.
The top three causes of death in the Philippines in 2021 were ischemic heart diseases, cerebrovascular diseases, and COVID-19. Ischemic heart disease accounts for 17.8% of the leading causes of death, while cerebrovascular diseases and COVID -19 accounts for 9.7% and 9.6%, respectively. The country ranks fifth behind China, Indonesia, Japan, and Thailand in terms of the number of individuals diagnosed with diabetes.
The Philippines is seen as an emerging medical tourism country and currently ranks 24th out of 46 countries on the 2020 Medical Tourism Index with competitive medical services prices and English-speaking medical professionals. Private hospitals are consistently upgrading their facilities to be on par with other countries.
The Philippine healthcare market has opportunities for health IT and innovative medical devices. Private hospitals and distributors are proactively searching for imaging and diagnostic equipment to diagnose patients accurately. Others are also concentrating their efforts on specialty fields like cancer treatment.
The COVID-19 pandemic created opportunities for health IT, specifically telemedicine. The Philippine Government and private companies have started telemedicine programs to provide easier access to medical consultations. However, no current legislation supports health IT in the Philippines. The Philippine Department of Health and the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) released Joint Administrative Order 2021-002 or the Mandatory Adoption and Use of National Health Data Standards for Interoperability, which aims to establish the national health data standards, develop the Philippine market, and define the implementation of governance for Health IT services. In line with this, PhilHealth, the country’s national health insurance agency, has developed an IT roadmap to lay down its plans for implementing standards for PhilHealth’s IT policies for planning, investment, and implementation.
In November 2021, the Philippine House of Representatives approved House Bill (HB) No. 10245, otherwise referred to as the proposed “eHealth System and Services Act.” HB 10245 aims to make healthcare data accessible for evidence-based decision-making. A Senate version, under Senate Bill (SB) 1618, otherwise known as the “Philippine eHealth Systems and Services Act,” which aims to provide a policy framework, dictate the direction, and regulate the practice of eHealth in the country was submitted for discussion; however, this has not been tackled by senators.
Private hospitals and health IT distributors are keen on acquiring IT-enabled health services to provide more efficient service to their patients. These private hospitals differ in their procurement processes, and U.S. companies must cultivate relationships with these entities.
The Philippine medical device industry is highly dependent on imports. Currently, imported medical devices account for 99.2%, with the United States accounting for 12% of the market share. Other top suppliers include China, Singapore, Japan, and Germany. Major medical device companies present in the country are Baxter, Johnson & Johnson, Medtronic, GE Healthcare, and Varian. Chinese medical devices hold a significant share as their competitive prices and products are readily available. Local production is limited to hospital furniture and medical disposables. Moreover, local production also supports prototypes and spare parts.
Public hospitals focus on preventive healthcare, while private hospitals concentrate on curative services. Increasing incidences of hypertension, diabetes, kidney disease, respiratory diseases, cancer, heart and lung problems, obesity, and malnutrition contribute to the strain on the Philippine healthcare system.
U.S. medical devices manufacturers may find export opportunities for low-volume, high-value equipment to strengthen the current efforts of hospitals on specialized services. Innovative medical devices like advanced point-of-care devices, diagnostic devices, and cancer treatment devices are also in demand.
|Low-Volume, High-value equipment||Innovative medical devices|
|CT scan systems||Advance point-of-care devices|
|X-Ray units||Advance diagnostic devices|
|Ultrasound systems||Cancer treatment devices|
The Philippines aligns itself to the ASEAN Medical Device Directive (AMDD), which classifies medical devices according to four classes A, B, C, and D and ranks low to high risk. Medical devices classified under Class A must obtain a Certificate of Medical Device Notification (CMDN). For medical devices classified under Classes B, C, and D, apply for the CMDN and the Certificate of Medical Device Registration (CMDR) at least three months before the CMDN expiration.
U.S. companies looking to enter the Philippine market should appoint a distributor to handle all aspects of registration with the Philippine Food and Drug Administration, marketing, sales, and after-sales support.
- Department of Health
- Food and Drug Administration
- Philippine Association of Medical Device Regulatory Affairs Professional (PAMDRAP)
- Healthcare Technology Association of the Philippines (HTAP)
- Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP)
Katrina Domingo, Commercial Specialist, U.S. Commercial Service Philippines