Thailand - Country Commercial Guide
Medical Equipment

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

Last published date: 2021-02-18

Overview

With a strong healthcare infrastructure, highly skilled medical professionals, and international standard medical services, Thailand is a global hub for medical tourism.   In 2019, approximately 3.5 million medical tourists visited Thailand.  As of June 2020, the Joint Commission International (JCI) accredited 61 Thai medical institutes as meeting international standards.  In terms of revenue from medical tourists, Thailand ranks third in the world after the U.S. ($3.5 billion) and South Korea ($655 million).  In 2019, Thailand earned $600 million, which is the highest within ASEAN, followed by Malaysia ($350 million) and Singapore ($150 million).  According to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), Thailand ranks fifth for inbound medical tourism after the United States, France, Turkey, and Belgium, and the Medical Tourism Association ranks Thailand sixth out of 41 destinations.  The Healthcare Research Center ranked Thailand sixth in the medical category of a Medical Tourism Index (MTI), while Thailand’s facilities and services were ranked thirteenth.  The US magazine CEOWORLD placed Thailand sixth in its list of countries with the best healthcare systems, after Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Austria, and Denmark. 

At a time of intense global concerns about rapidly spreading diseases such as coronavirus, Thailand ranked sixth out of 195 countries in the Global Health Security Index, which measures a country’s ability to respond to epidemics, pandemics, and other health emergencies.  This Global Health Security Index was undertaken by researchers with the Nuclear Threat Initiative and Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.  Thailand was among the first countries to be hit by the virus after China.  Thailand has a good healthcare system, and the government listened to two groups, doctors and the business sector, to make the lockdown as less disruptive as possible. 

Approximately 12-14% of Thailand’s gross domestic product comes from tourism.  An economic contraction of 5-6% is forecasted for 2020, and hospitals supporting medical tourism have experienced direct, adverse effects from the coronavirus epidemic.  Both public and private hospitals now have fewer patients because many people tend to avoid visits to hospitals if not necessary.  At the same time, higher demand arose for nutritional supplements and medicines to strengthen the body’s immunity, as well as personal protective supplies such as masks, alcohol gel, and hand sanitizers.

As the global pandemic added further strains to frontline health services and back-end supply chains, the Thai Board of Investment (BoI) announced additional measures in April to accelerate investments in the medical care industry, which could have positive implications for the sector’s broader strategic goals.  Complementing the existing tax holiday of between three to eight years for qualified medical devices, equipment, and supply businesses, the new measures include a 50% reduction in corporate income tax for a further three years.  This additional incentive is available to firms that apply before June 30 and begin production before December 31.  Furthermore, manufacturers that adjust existing production lines to manufacture medical devices or parts will be exempted from import duties on machinery in 2020, provided they apply before September.

According to Thailand’s Office of Industrial Economics, in 2019 the value of the Thailand medical device market rose to $6 billion.  The growth of the medical devices market is a result of several factors.  First, an increasing number of patients with heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes have developed due to Thailand’s aging population.  Second, an increasing number of foreign patients are in Thailand.  Third, hospital groups and new players are building new facilities.  Thailand ranked as the world’s seventeenth-largest exporter of medical devices (mostly single-use devices) and the world’s thirty-second ranked importer of medical devices.  In 2020, to cope with Covid-19, local manufacturers increased their production of personal protective equipment (PPE) for supplying to the local market and exporting to the world.  Although imports of medical devices used for Covid-19 patients, such as ventilators, increased, imports of medical devices, in general, decreased by approximately 25%.  Overall, the result is a decrease in imports in 2020.

 

 

2017

2018

2019

2020 estimated

Total Local Production

6,569

6,961

7,157

7,873

Total Exports

2,929

3,267

3,325

3,658

Total Imports

1,783

2,015

2,178

1,742

Imports from the US

428

443

544.5

435

Total Market Size

5,423

5,709

6,010

5,957

Exchange Rates

31

31

31

31

Units: $ millions (total market size = (total local production + imports) - exports)
Source:  Medical Devices Intelligence Unit (MEDIU), Thailand Office of Industrial Economics

Leading Sub-Sectors

  • Electro mechanical medical devices
  • In vitro diagnostic devices (IVD)
  • Cardiovascular devices
  • Clinical diagnostic devices
  • Dental devices
  • Dermatological devices
  • Electro-diagnostic devices
  • Health information technology
  • Neurological & surgical devices
  • Ophthalmic and optical devices
  • Orthopedic and fracture devices
  • Rehabilitation equipment
  • Therapeutic respiration devices
  • Ultrasound and X-ray devices

Opportunities

In 2020-2021, the medical devices sector is expected to grow 8-10%.  This outlook is supported by (1) the increasing trend for both expatriates and medical tourists to use Thai medical services as their confidence grows in the standard of care; (2) government policy that aims to establish Thailand as a medical hub; (3) rising rates of ill-health in the Thai population (especially from heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes) which together with the steady aging of the population is fueling increased demand for the use of modern, high-tech diagnostic equipment; and (4) plans to put in place by healthcare providers to expand or build new hospitals.

Thailand has an aging population, with 20% of its population forecasted to be over the age of 60 by 2022, increasing to 30% by 2035.  This societal change is creating an imminent need for support services and facilities catering to an increasingly elderly population.  Real estate developers are partnering with hospitals in developing senior care residence projects.  Major public hospitals are developing their facilities to serve the elderly population.  For example, Ramathibodi Hospital is building a senior complex that comprises hospice, intermediate care, and residences.  Siriraj Hospital is developing the National Academic Center of Geriatric Medicine to provide intermediate care for elderly patients.  As a result, demand exists for related medical devices such as rehabilitation equipment and patient transferring equipment. 

Thailand plans to build a new medical hub in the Eastern Economic Corridor area called “EECmd,” which will include the Medical Research Institute, Chulabhorn International College of Medicine, and Thammasat University Hospital, Pattaya Campus.  One cornerstone of the hub will be the Lakeside Premier Complex dedicated to the study and treatment of elderly patients. 

Web Resources

Thai Medical Device Technology Industry Association
Thai Medical Informatics Association
Science and Technology Trade Association

Upcoming Trade Shows:

Bio Investment Asia 2020

Date: September 16-18, 2020

Thailand Lab International 2020

Date: October 28-30, 2020

Medical Fair Thailand 2021

Date: September 8-10, 2021