How can Thailand’s healthcare industry reach its full potential?

August 18, 2020

How can Thailand’s healthcare industry reach its full potential?

Thailand’s healthcare sector is both dynamic and robust. The country has done an exceptional job of flattening the COVID-19 curve, and the healthcare industry played a vital role in this success.   

Prior to the pandemic, Thailand was responsible for nearly 90% of the medical tourism market in Asia. Now that the virus has been successfully contained for the time being, the nation is resuming its push to become a world-leading medical hub as part of the Thailand 4.0 initiative.   

For Thailand’s healthcare industry to reach its full potential, however, some important issues in the system must be addressed. For instance, wait times are still a major concern for many Thais – particularly those who live in rural areas. Likewise, the process of refilling a prescription can be unnecessarily complex. As with many other healthcare systems around the world, the problems often stem from a lack of digitization.

Enter the HealthTech startup

Numerous Thai HealthTech startups have been harnessing the power of modern technology to improve the level of access and care provided by Thailand’s healthcare sector. The examples below are made possible by encrypted data transfer, videoconferencing, automated data collection, the Internet of Things and more – all specially tailored for the unique needs of patients and doctors.

Arincare offers an e-prescription service that lets doctors safely prescribe medicine to patients online, eliminating the need for in-person consultations. Their service improves access to medicine, especially for rural patients, and simplifies medicine inventory management for hospitals and clinics. Reducing traffic and wait times at medical centers is also a positive knock-on effect.

Diamate, a remote diabetes monitoring application, logs blood sugar levels, rates food quality, and notifies the patient to adjust medicine volumes if needed. It also lets diabetics chat with health professionals and connect with a community of fellow app users.

Chiiwii’s telemedicine application allows patients to consult with specialist doctors online. Users can book an appointment easily with specialists in children’s health, women’s health, mental health, dermatology, orthopedics, pharmaceuticals and more.

These are just some of the most prominent Thai HealthTech startups making major inroads now. Together, such initiatives can show the way forward, helping Thailand’s healthcare sector continue to boom. Entrepreneurs stand to win big, while genuinely helping people, if they invest in HealthTech. But the path forward is not without obstacles.

Stakeholder overload and the three P’s

Tech startups in other sectors have it relatively easy compared to those in HealthTech. While the technology itself may be extremely complex, most industries can follow a very simple approach: Provide a product or service that users enjoy. HealthTech startups have far more people to answer to. They need to ensure that government regulators, hospital administrators, doctors, patients, and insurance companies alike are all happy with them. This is a tricky balancing act.

To successfully walk this tightrope, HealthTech startups could do well to follow the advice given in Steve Case’s book The Third Wave. The AOL founder recommends that startups pay attention to three P’s: Policy, Partnership, and Perseverance.

Policy comes first, as compliance with all relevant government regulations is an absolute must – it’s permission to play.

Partnership means carefully listening to all stakeholders. But it also involves sharing information and collaborating with other HealthTech startups. HealthTech services can be extremely niche and specific, so partnership could bring more benefits than competition.

Finally, perseverance means you have to work hard and be patient. A scalable business model may take years to develop, but the rewards can be immense – not only in building a successful business but also enriching the lives of the people you help.

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