KResearch is of the view that there is heightened competition among private hospitals vying for Thai patients here because purchasing power of such patients remains subdued. Although private hospitals have opportunities to expand their customer bases by capturing the growing number of senior citizens, they should recognize that this consumer segment does not have high purchasing power. As a result, they may target medium-income earners or those earning at least THB100, 000 p.a. (excluding financial assistance provided by their children) instead.
Currently, the international patient market is a major driver of the Thai private hospital business. We at KResearch project that the number of medical services offered by our private hospitals to foreign patients will possibly reach 3.42 million in 2018. Of that total, 2.5 million will be offered to foreign medical tourists and 9.2 million to expatriates. We expect that the number of patients from Asia, in particular Japan, Myanmar and China, visiting Thailand for medical treatments will increase in the near future, thus replacing those from the Middle East. Medical tourists from the Middle East to Thailand are set to decline because of new medical treatment policies and substantial improvements in public health quality and standards, aimed at attracting local patients in those countries.
Due to the rising number of Chinese tourist arrivals to Thailand and growing number of Chinese patients seeking medical treatments abroad, KResearch is of the view that Thai private hospitals should seek this opportunity to tap into Chinese medical tourists, especially those interested in beauty treatment services. Currently, Thai private hospitals have a high competency in facial surgeries, infertility and simple dental and anti-aging treatments, plus health checks. Thai private hospitals, however, may face stiff competition from Japan, South Korea and Malaysia, which are all major markets for Chinese medical tourists. We at KResearch have assessed that the number of Chinese medical tourists seeking treatments abroad will reach about 630,000-650,000 in 2018, with at least 40,000 or 6.0 percent visiting Thailand.