Thailand 'has potential to be medical tourism leader'

Medical fair organiser says global market growing 25 per cent a year

Thailand can emerge as the region's top medical tourism hotspot, as the country attracts 550,000 ASEAN medical tourists yearly, according to Gernot Ringling, managing director of the trade fair organiser Messe Dusseldorf Asia.

"Across the region, medical tourism is on the rise with more than 3.5 million consumers arriving in Southeast Asia annually.

"Globally, the medical tourism market is expanding by up to 25 per cent each year and is worth more than US$55 billion (S$75 billion) annually.

"Out of the more than 11 million global medical consumers, nearly a third travel to Southeast Asia," said Ringling.

As Southeast Asia's public and private health systems are increasingly embracing and funding technology enabled care to follow their European and North American counterparts, advanced technologies that can deliver scalable, efficient and highquality care are becoming increasingly popular in the region.

For instance, the increasing use of robotic surgery, 3D printing, implantable devices, use of automation and artificial intelligence in clinical settings, and other digital innovations for prevention, monitoring and treatment are among the hottest products and solutions and trends across Southeast Asia.

Messe Dusseldorf Asia, a subsidiary of Messe Dusseldorf in Germany, one of the world's leading trade fair organisers, will hold the eighth Medical Fair Thailand at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre from September 6 to 8.

Among the highlights are rehabilitative care and connected healthcare, such as digital healthcare equipment and solutions, and wearable technologies that are rapidly transforming the market.

"Rehabilitative care and connected healthcare are fast growing sectors within the medical and healthcare industry and these specialised healthcare areas are gaining traction due to an ageing population and a tech savvy middle class," Ringling said.

The ageing societies in the region will result in greater healthcare expenditures by the elderly.

Singapore and Thailand have the highest percentage of ageing population above 65 years. The percentage of people over age 65 is expected to more than quadruple by 2050 in Southeast Asia.

Zion Research forecasts that the global home healthcare market, including rehabilitation, is expected to grow to US$391.41 billion by 2021.

Based on the "Market Research Future Report", the global connected healthcare market will reach US$105.33 billion by 2022, with the AsiaPacific market expected to be the fastest growing, reaching US$24.07 billion by 2022.

The US$100 billion medical industry can contribute as an economic booster to Southeast Asian countries. Medical manufacturing is one of the key growth areas in ASEAN region.

The medical device market in these countries is projected to double from US$4.6 billion in 2013 to US$9 billion by 2019.

More than 700 exhibitors from 45 countries are expected to join the fair.

Around 18 national pavilions and groups, including debut group participation from Canada, the European Union, India, the Netherlands and Russia, will present more than 5,000 state of theart medical and healthcare products, equipment and solutions to a targeted audience of 10,000 medical and healthcare professionals.

Alongside the exhibition, the fair will also feature seminars, forums, conferences and technical presentations.