Singapore - Country Commercial Guide
Healthcare

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

Last published date: 2021-08-13

Overview

Singapore’s healthcare market is expected to grow to $49.4 billion by 2029.  Healthcare spending, comprising both public and private healthcare expenditure, is expected to account for 5.9% of GDP and could go up to 9% by 2029.  This increase is largely attributed to rising government spending on healthcare, as well as the local population’s consumption of healthcare services, given the aging population and a trend towards earlier diagnosis of chronic conditions, close monitoring and follow-up.  Government healthcare expenditure is estimated to grow to $36 billion by 2029 while private healthcare expenditure is forecast to be $13.5 billion, according to a Fitch Solutions market insight report.  

In March 2019, Newsweek magazine ranked the Singapore General Hospital as the third-best in the world, crediting the hospital’s clinical research and outstanding nursing care.  Also, in 2017, Singapore took the top position in progress towards the health-related UN Sustainable Development Goals and in the Global Innovation Index 2017. 

Singapore currently provides universal coverage for its citizens with multiple layers of care.  Among its ASEAN peers, it spends the most annually in healthcare on a per capita basis and this is expected to rise faster than GDP given the aging population and changes in demographics. 

Singapore serves as the healthcare and medical hub of the region and offers Asia’s best healthcare system.  The Joint Commission International (JCI) has accredited 13 Singapore hospitals and healthcare facilities.  Each year, Singapore draws over 350,000 patients with its high-quality healthcare.  Prominent international healthcare and research organizations such as the American Association for Cancer Research, Duke University, Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, and JCI have established a presence here.  The research institutes work with scientists here to accelerate drug discovery and develop therapies for unmet healthcare needs.

Singapore has strong fundamentals in healthcare excellence.  This emphasis on quality care has enabled the country to achieve high life expectancies, fourth in the world, and the lowest infant mortality in the world.  The challenge is it has one of the fastest aging populations in Asia, which will translate to a greater demand for specialized elderly care amid rising costs. 

In 2020, imports of medical equipment and supplies to Singapore increased by 6% over the previous year.  U.S. medical equipment and supplies accounted for 22% of market share in 2020 and this has averaged between 22-26% over the last few years.  On average, more than 70% of products imported into Singapore are subsequently re-exported.

The outlook for 2021 will likely see an increase in imports and local production.  This is due to the ongoing global pandemic, stabilizing of supply chains, calibrated opening of borders and a slow return to normalcy.  Medical supplies including test kits, vaccines and personal protective equipment will continue to see demand as these are deemed essential.  Based on available data, the market for medical devices is anticipated to grow this year and imports are expected to increase by approximately 8%. 

Medical devices are regulated under the Health Products Act and Health Products (Medical Devices) regulations.  Singapore’s Health Sciences Authority (HSA) oversees the system of statutory control aimed to safeguard the quality, safety and efficacy of medical devices available in Singapore.  Almost all medical devices are regulated.  Class A medical devices supplied in a non-sterile state are exempted, however, Class A sterile, Class B, C, and D medical devices are subject to product registration requirements.  Classification rules are adopted from the guidance developed by the Global Harmonization Task Force (GHTF).

The Ministry of Health aims to license telemedicine services in mid-2022 as part of the phasing in of the upcoming Healthcare Services Act.  The Health Services Bill is expected to replace the Private Hospitals and Medical Clinics Act in 2023. The broadened scope of this new Act will include healthcare services, allied health and nursing services, traditional medicine and complementary and alternative medicine. 

ASEAN has been developing a uniform system for registering and assessing medical devices across the ten-member countries.  Various ASEAN economies have started adoption of the ASEAN Medical Device Directive (AMDD).  This requires ASEAN countries to adopt uniform classification criteria for medical devices.  This bodes well for U.S. medical device manufacturers as they will be able to easily access a common medical device market with a market size of more than 600 million people.  Adherence to the basic principles of the AMDD in ASEAN will likely take place over the next few years.

Healthcare Trade Data: 2018-2021 est.

 

2018

2019

2020

2021 estimated

Total Local Production

9,618

9,734

10,173

11,658

Total Exports

14,070

14,456

15,311

16,485

Total Imports

6,391

6,804

7,243

7,857

Imports from the US

1,623

1,681

1,587

1,542

Total Market Size

1,939

2,082

2,105

3,030

Exchange Rates

1.35

1.36

1.38

1.33

Units: $ millions
Source: IHS Markit

Leading Sub-Sectors

Healthcare demand and spending will increase due to an aging population, heavier chronic disease burdens, advances in technology and a more well-informed and perceptive population.  Combined with medical facility constraints, Singapore will likely see a rebalance of its healthcare system towards more home-based care. There will be opportunities to introduce telecare initiatives as the healthcare system gradually evolves towards being less hospital-centric and pivot towards more outpatient care.  The advent of telecare, remote patient monitoring will be of strategic importance to pharmaceutical companies as medical professionals will be better able to monitor patients’ adherence to treatment, and as more patients are affected by multiple chronic conditions that require multiple pharmaceutical products. 

The Health Ministry’s mandate is to deliver affordable healthcare, ensure good medical outcomes, reduce illness and promote good health, and ensure that the country is resilient against communicable disease threats and civil emergencies.  A $5.6 billion budget has been allocated to address infrastructure concerns in the short and long term, as well as to support healthcare provisions and subsidies for the poor.  The three key areas of focus are healthcare infrastructure, healthcare delivery, and managing the associated costs and issues related to an aging population.  This budget also includes larger subsidies for surgical implants, the treatment and management of chronic diseases, as well as funding programs to promote healthy lifestyle and active-aging programs.

For the long term, the Singapore government remains committed to ensuring that the national healthcare system keeps pace with global medical advancements.  To keep up with advances in biomedical science and encourage the development of new clinical treatments for Singaporeans, the Ministry of Health, in partnership with A*STAR (Agency for Science, Technology and Research) and several other governmental bodies, have invested in clinical and translational research.  The aim is to augment Singapore’s medical capabilities in the public healthcare system and position Singapore as the premier regional medical services hub.  U.S. exporters that provide cutting-edge technology, laboratory and testing equipment, and services for the healthcare and research communities will find Singapore a lucrative market.  In December 2020, RIE2025, also known as the Research, Innovation and Enterprise Plan, was launched with a $19.23 billion budget and will be organized across four domains, with human health and potential being one of them.

The elderly (defined as over 65 years) currently represent 10.7% of the total population, highest among all the other ASEAN countries.  Within the next 20 years, Singapore will experience what is known as ‘hyper-aging.’  Over a quarter of the population will be 65 years and older by 2030.  As such, more facilities for the elderly, such as nursing homes and rehabilitation centers, need to be built.  The demand for services such as geriatric medicine, home-based patient monitoring, memory care, and rehabilitation medicine are expected to rise.  U.S. firms specializing in elder-care products and services will find a robust and growing market in Singapore. 

Opportunities

The national healthcare expenditure has recorded increases every year and the demand for healthcare has grown substantially as a result of population growth and aging.  The total expenditure for 2021 is projected to be $14.2 billion.  The Ministry of Health will do a major revamp of the public sector subsidy structure by the middle of 2022 to better target resources amid an aging population and those with greater need. 

Broadly speaking, the opportunities are in health IT solutions that focus on telemedicine, telecare, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and the protection of data contained in electronic health records and data sharing.  Others include personal health management, health screening, disease management, preventive care products, access to homecare resources, and advanced technologies that would enable seamless integrated healthcare.   

Government hospitals account for 80% of all hospital beds in Singapore while the private sector accounts for 20%.

Demand for medical equipment comes from public and private hospitals and clinics.  The Health Ministry is the largest consumer, accounting for nearly 75% of local demand. Parkway Hospitals Singapore, the largest private sector healthcare provider in Singapore, is also a significant buyer of medical equipment.  More than 80% of local demand is met through imports and there is a premium placed on American-made products.  U.S. manufacturers with innovative products will find Singapore a good marketplace.

Singapore will invest in primary care infrastructure such as polyclinics and community health centers.  Other areas include innovative models of treating patients, the use of artificial intelligence and robotics.  Digital technologies that focus on cybersecurity and the protection of medical health records are also of interest given the 2018 Singhealth medical health records data breach.  This is especially important as the National Electronic Health Record (NEHR) project, launched a decade ago and valued at US$144 million, will mean that each citizen will have his or her own electronic medical record.

Between now and 2035, parts of the Singapore General Hospital, to be renamed the Outram Campus and Community Hospital, will expand with major redevelopment of Singapore’s oldest and largest hospital.  This will strengthen the continuum of care by providing 545 beds, mostly for sub-acute care as well as a palliative care wing.  More polyclinics will be built, bringing the total to 32 by 2030.  Other infrastructure projects include the Woodlands Integrated Health Campus to be completed in 2023, the redevelopment of Alexandra Hospital, ready by 2030, a new integrated acute and community hospital in the east, National Cancer Centre and the existing Tan Tock Seng Hospital Integrated Care Hub.  All these projects are scheduled to be completed by 2036.

Resources

Trade Shows

Asia Pacific Medtech Forum 2021

October 19-20, 2021 / 2022 (Dates to be confirmed)

 

Eldercare Exhibition & Conference Asia 2021 (Eldex Asia)

November 5-7, 2021

 

VitaFoods Asia 2021

November 23-26, 2021 / 2022 (Dates to be confirmed)

 

International Dental Exhibition and Meeting 2022 (IDEM)

April 8-10, 2022

 

Medical Fair Asia 2022

August 31-September 2, 2022

Singapore Government Offices

  • Singapore Ministry of Health (MOH)
  • MOH Office for Healthcare Transformation (MOHT)
  • Integrated Health Information System (IHiS)
  • Health Sciences Authority (HSA)
  • Health Promotion Board (HPB)
  • Agency for Integrated Care (AIC)
  • Singapore Economic Development Board (SEDB)
  • Agency for Science, Technology & Resarch (A*STAR)

U.S. Commercial Service, Singapore Contact

Ms. Luanne Theseira, Commercial Specialist

Email: Luanne.Theseira@trade.gov