The number of patients from Middle Eastern countries visiting Thailand for medical treatments has declined steadily due chiefly to changes in their home country healthcare policies and improvements in the quality and standards of their public health systems. However, it is expected that more international patients from other regions, in particular Asia, e.g., the CLMV, China and Japan, will likely visit Thailand for medical treatments, thus helping to sustain our overall income from international patients.
We at KResearch project that international patients will help generate some THB48-49 billion in income for private hospitals here in 2017, increasing 3-4 percent YoY, against an 8 percent increase reported for 2016. The number of visits to Thailand made by international patients in 2017 may reach 3.3 million, 2.4 million of which would be made by medical tourists and the remainder 900,000 by expatriates in Thailand.
Looking ahead, despite the promising outlook, Thai medical-service related businesses may face heightened competition from new providers in the domestic market and Asian rivals such as Singapore, Malaysia and South Korea, which are all working at becoming the regional leader in medical services.
To maintain our competitiveness, Thai medical businesses will need to cement their strengths further, especially service quality and medical standards, because these are important factors that boost the confidence of international patients towards meeting their needs as such. Aside from adopting effective, unique marketing strategies to reach targeted clients, Thai medical service providers may consider venturing into the general health and wellness business category to capture more international tourists, or older foreign tourists taking long-stay vacations in Thailand.