Thailand’s healthcare system is seen as one of the best in Southeast Asia, even receiving the accolade of the best Health Care Index in ASEAN last 2019. However, the country is also facing a series of unique challenges—an aging society, rising costs, and complex medical needs—that are putting pressure on the healthcare system.
Both public and private hospitals see creating Smart Hospitals as the answer to their unique challenges. There are several definitions for what makes a hospital “smart,” but the consensus lies in developing hospitals with automated and optimized processes that improve efficiency and the level of patient care. Most hospitals in Thailand have done this through digital means.
In the white paper The Future of Smart Hospitals in Thailand: How Digitalization is Transforming Thailand’s Hospital System by YCP Solidiance, the different factors that make a hospital “smart” are explored, as well as a deep dive into the Thai healthcare system and the opportunities for private businesses to devise unique solutions in healthcare.
Developing a smart hospital ecosystem
To guide Thailand’s hospitals, the Ministry of Public Health has released the eHealth strategy, which is geared towards using technology to improve health services, management, and communication. The program, which runs from 2017 to 2026, has four primary goals aimed at improving hospitals’ efficiency and effectiveness:
- Investment (2016-2017): creating a foundation for eHealth development through establishing interoperability frameworks for the healthcare sector
- Inclusion (5 years): involving all stakeholders in eHealth operation and passing system reforms in key infrastructure, legal, telehealth, eLearning, and other areas
- Transformation (10 years): using technology for healthcare to reach its full potential via digital innovation, a national health information management center, and adopting Smart Health Care
- eHealth Leadership (10-20 years): creating economic value in the public health system through long-term and sustainable eHealth development
Several hospitals, both public and private, have started developing their own systems to be “smarter” through digital applications and automated technology, fully supported by the government’s program. This presents a unique opportunity for businesses to devise breakthrough ideas that can change the landscape of healthcare.
Opportunities to innovate
100% of hospitals in Thailand have plans, or have already implemented, a form of digital transformation. The focus has been on process improvement and enhanced quality of care. Some hospitals have already rolled out AI technology to assist in patient flow and Big Data to supplement existing management processes. And while many hospitals already have plans, majority have not put these plans into action. This presents opportunities for businesses like IT software suppliers, medical device makers, and digital technology players to partner with hospitals for customized solutions that fit their complex needs.
With more Thai citizens needing healthcare, seamless patient flow is a vital investment area for both public and private hospitals. Solutions like self-registration kiosks and cashless terminals will be essential in decongesting patient flow and supporting overextended medical workers.
Robotics is yet another field that can innovate ideas for the healthcare sector. Pharmacy robots are a popular technology in mobile asset management for hospitals—dispensing medicine for patients is inherently complex, and there is an urgent need to streamline the process. Using robots will not only be a novelty for patients, but it will allow pharmacists and technicians to focus on patient care.
Other “smart” advancements sought after by hospitals are digital scans to increase diagnostic speed, and core information system software to help hospitals manage finances and other administrative needs.
Helping hospitals get “smart”
Thailand’s hospitals are fast adopting, and are interested in, technology to make them “smarter.” The government has also created a roadmap for eHealth success—and the different needs of public and private hospitals present ideal circumstances for vendors and businesses to enter partnerships and to innovate.
To learn more about Thailand’s healthcare landscape, and to study opportunities on how your business can help hospitals get “smart,” download our full paper here.