Thailand’s private healthcare outlook in 2021

Dr Surapong Ambhanwong from Thailand Private Hospital Association shares his views on the outlook for Thailand’s private healthcare sector in 2021.

Speaker: Dr Surapong Ambhanwong
Chief Advisor
Thailand Private Hospital Association (PHA)

Summary

PHA counts around 300 private hospitals (out of around 380 hospitals) in Thailand as its members. Every private hospital would have received HA accreditation, or accreditation awarded by The Institute of Hospital Quality Improvement and Accreditation (HQIA) in Thailand, while some have received JCI accreditation and takes care of mostly international patients.

For COVID-19 quarantines for travellers to Thailand, there is an Alternative State Quarantine (ASQ) scheme where travellers quarantine in a hotel and receive healthcare services from private hospitals. Dr Ambhanwong expressed hope that the COVID-19 situation can stabilise by Q3 or Q4 2021, as Thailand has seen its COVID-19 siutation relatively under control in recent months, and vaccines have arrived in Thailand. This would allow schemes such as travel bubbles or vaccine passports to take effect, allowing resumption of medical tourism without quarantine requirements.

In the new normal, patients prefer to consult online or via phone, unless they have physical tests that require them to be present at a medical facility. More care services will be conducted at the patients’ homes, with home delivery of medication. Non-emergency procedures such as plastic surgery or beauty treatments may be postponed indefinitely or see a sharp decline.

Key takeaways:

  1. Thailand’s COVID-19 situation has been relatively stable, raising hopes of the resumption of medical tourism.
  2. For medical tourism to resume, schemes such as travel bubbles or vaccine passports will have to be put in place. Thailand will have to reach agreements with other countries on the details of such schemes.
  3. Private hospitals in Thailand will have to adapt to the new normal, with most patients electing for consultations online, and certain non-emergency procedures dipping in demand.

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