This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.
Republic Act 11223 or the Universal Health Care (UHC) Law was signed on February 2019 allowing every Filipino, including Overseas Filipino Workers, access to preventive, promotive, curative, rehabilitative, and palliative care under the government’s health insurance program (PhilHealth). Further, the UHC expands its coverage to include free consultation fees, laboratory tests, and other diagnostic services.
The pandemic allowed hospitals to increase their facilities to cope with the situation. Public hospitals focus their efforts on preventive and primary care. They are also taking the lead in educating the public on health issues. The Private hospitals, on the other hand, focus on specialized care for cardiovascular diseases, cancer, pulmonology, and orthopedics.
There are approximately 1800 private and public hospitals in the Philippines. The Department of Health directly operates 70 hospitals. The private sector is active in expanding their presence in other major provinces and cities across the country. Private equity firms like Metro Pacific Investments Corporation (MPIC), the Ayala Group of Companies and Mt. Grace Hospitals Group are infusing capital to smaller hospitals, providing them with better infrastructure and state-of-the art equipment.
Ischemic heart diseases and cancer are the leading causes of death of Filipinos accounting for 17.3% and 10.8% respectively. Diabetes ranked 4th in the leading causes of death. Further, it accounted for 5.7% of the leading deaths with an annual increase of 7.8%. The World Bank estimates that 7% of Filipinos live with diabetes.
The Philippine healthcare market has opportunities for medical devices and health IT. Private hospitals are proactive in searching for imaging and diagnostic equipment to accurately diagnose their patients. Public hospitals have delayed several intended procurements as they focus their efforts on addressing the pandemic situation. Local production of medical devices is limited to accessories, spare parts, and medical disposables such as surgical gloves, syringes, and needles.
Medical Devices: The Philippines is highly dependent on imports for medical devices. The United States is the top supplier for medical devices in the Philippines accounting for approximately 29% of market share. Other top suppliers include Germany, Japan, and China. Major medical device brands like Baxter, Johnson & Johnson, Medtronic, GE Healthcare, and Varian are already present in the country. Chinese medical devices hold a significant market share as their prices are competitive and the equipment is readily available. However, end-users complain that products are of mediocre quality.
Catheters, sutures, surgical masks, CT scans systems, X-ray units, ultrasound systems, and ECG units are some of the popular medical devices being imported. This presents an opportunity for U.S. manufacturers who can provide better quality medical devices to help augment market demand.
With the rise of private specialized hospitals, innovative medical devices present an opportunity for U.S. manufacturers. Some opportunities include:
- Advanced diagnostic devices
- Advanced point-of-care devices
- Cancer treatment devices
- Implants used in orthopedics and traumatology
Health IT: The Philippines does not have legislation to support eHealth. Currently, there is only House Bill No. 7422 or the Philippine E-Health and Telemedicine Development Act. It is envisioned to promote the delivery of medical services through the use information and communication technologies (ICT). It is still pending in the Philippine Congress.
Currently, the Philippine eHealth Strategic Framework and Plan (2014-2020) provides the guidelines for hospitals in promoting telemedicine and other IT-enabled health services. The framework is a collaboration between the Philippine Department of Health, Department of Science and Technology, the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) and other government agencies. The implementation of this initiative has stalled as it lacks financing as the country grapples with the effects of the pandemic. Other challenges for eHealth include slow internet connectivity, data storage and protection, and user adaptability.
Despite the lack of legislation, private hospitals are keen in acquiring IT-enabled health services to provide more efficient service to their patients. These private hospitals differ in their procurement processes and it is important for U.S. companies to cultivate relationships with these entities. Below are some opportunities that might be of interest to U.S. companies:
- Clinical decision support
- Consumer health IT applications
- Electronic medical record systems (EMRs, EHRs, and PHRs)
- Electronic prescribing
- Department of Health
- Food and Drug Administration:
- Philippine Health Insurance Corporation
- Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines
- Philippine Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association
Katrina Domingo, Commercial Specialist, U.S. Commercial Service Philippines