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10 Predictions for Digital Health in Thailand in 2021

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10 Predictions for Digital Health in Thailand in 2021

With 2021 (finally) around the corner, we look ahead to see what the new year might bring us in the digital healthcare landscape. Most of this is based on our own data, research, and observations over the past 24 months. Please note that these are not investment advice, but rather insights into potential developments:

  1. 📉 Telehealth adoption will continue to decline from the COVID peak in March 2020, with pure-play telehealth startups looking for additional ways to monetize their businesses. People finally realize telehealth is “all sizzle and no steak” in Southeast Asia.

  2. 🎯 More and more hospitals will bypass third-party telehealth platforms to go direct-to-consumer using popular platforms like Zoom; telehealth is mainly to be used as a CRM tool to regularly check in with (mostly chronic disease) patients after the initial in-person visit. This is the use case telehealth technology was originally intended to be used for.

  3. ✈️ Medical tourism will come back with a vengeance along with a tourism boom following a complete global rollout of COVID vaccines and pent-up demand for global travel. 2021 will be the biggest year in history for global travel and medical tourism. (And Airbnb shares to reach all-time highs in 2021.)

  4. 🇹🇭 Hospitals continue to re-position themselves for domestic demand in order to diversify risk away from a huge dependency on medical tourism that led to revenue drops of over 50% in 2020.

  5. 💵 The cash-pay, elective, and preventive healthcare market will continue to grow in the aftermath of the COVID-driven recession that has left many unemployed and without health insurance coverage or facing major salary cuts. 2020 has been a crash course in health and wellness education for Generation Z members leading to increased health consciousness and the resulting growth in preventive healthcare spending.

  6. 💰 Venture capital investments into digital health will reach new all-time highs in 2021. Digital health business models will crystalize in 2021 whereas previously the big question of monetization still kept many investors on the fence.

  7. 🤝 Government entities will collaborate more closely with digital health startups, realizing it’s much harder to drive innovation from within the system.

  8. 💊 Offline pharmacies, hit hard in 2020 by COVID, will lobby regulators to allow for online sales and delivery of prescription medications, following similar advancements made in China and India over the past few years. Headlines like Amazon Pharmacy and JD Health’s blockbuster IPO will only put more urgency behind their cause.

  9. 👔 More and more corporations and SMEs will opt to provide a budget to employees to have the latter purchase their own health insurance or pay out of pocket. With COVID hardships still in the back of their minds, SMEs that previously were not able to afford private health insurance for their staff may now opt for a smaller cash contribution towards their staff’s out-of-pocket healthcare expenses.

  10. 📱 Hospitals and clinics, realizing the need to digitize their businesses, will increasingly work with third-party digital health platforms in order to compensate for internal politics, lack of a digital “DNA”, and staff lacking technical skills that hamper them from bringing their business online by themselves. This is similar to the path followed by retailers and brands during the last few years of the e-commerce boom in Southeast Asia.

In conclusion, as we look ahead to 2021, the digital healthcare landscape is poised for significant transformations and opportunities. The trends we anticipate, such as the evolving role of telehealth, the resurgence of medical tourism, and the growth of preventive healthcare spending, will shape the industry's future. Venture capital investments, collaborations with government entities, and the push for online pharmacy services all contribute to the dynamic nature of the healthcare sector.


In this rapidly changing environment, Plug and Play's role as a global innovation platform becomes increasingly crucial. Through their programs, partnerships, and support for startups, Plug and Play fosters innovation and digital transformation within the healthcare industry. As healthcare providers and entrepreneurs navigate these emerging trends, Plug and Play provides the necessary resources, connections, and expertise to drive growth and deliver impactful solutions.


As we move forward into 2021, Plug and Play will continue to serve as a catalyst for collaboration, bridging the gap between startups, healthcare organizations, and investors. Together, we can shape the future of digital healthcare, enhance patient experiences, and improve the overall well-being of individuals around the world.


 

ARTICLE WRITTEN BY: SHEJI HO Sheji Ho is the Founder of HonestDocs. HonestDocs is part of our Batch 2 Smart Cities program.


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