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Before the COVID-19 outbreak, over 40 million tourists travel to Thailand every year contributing to a 14% rise in the country's gross domestic product (GDP).
One of Thailand`s high-end hospitals, Bumrungrad Hospital primarily built only for tourists, treats over 632,000 patients from 180 countries including Myanmar, United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait.
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Since the hospital earns 66% of its revenue from foreigners, their profit went 94% low from THB 725 million (~$23.9 million) to THB 44.4 million ($1.5 million), according to reports.
Healthcare operators, on the other end, saw a 3.4% increase in revenue from local Thai patients leading them to adopt teleconsulting services as a way to accelerate the medical demands across the country.
“We’ve seen a number of hospitals starting to enter telemedicine and online space recently, with different focus areas and models including self-owned, partnership, and via the Line platform,” says Vikram Kapur, partner and leader of Bain’s healthcare practice in the APAC region.
Thailand`s telemedicine startup applications
Doctor Raksa digital healthcare startup, offers consultation services for THB 200 (~$6.60) per session with over 800 licensed doctors and prescription deliveries.
Jaren Siew, CEO of Doctor Raksa, plans on expanding their services to Cambodia, Myanmar, and Vietnam as it reached 1 million users across the country, accumulating 90% of the country’s private telemedicine market.
Bumrungrad Hospital also launched an app called “Bumrungrad Everywhere”, where patients can access their consultations, diagnoses, and prescription requirements from their respective attending physicians at one tap.
“The application launched to pave way for the 'New Normal' lifestyle; for example, providing you with in-app Digital Loyalty Card, and helping you find a doctor, schedule an appointment, and purchase an online health package in advance, which helps reduce waiting time at the cashier counter and allows you to return home right after completion of healthcare services.” Bumrungrad International Hospital website.
Specializing in mental health issues, Ooca is another online consultation platform, founded by Kanpassorn Suriyasangpetch also known as Eix, which provides video-call therapy sessions with licensed psychologists and psychiatrists through its app, starting at THB 1,000 (~$33) per 30 minutes.
“We are piloting with psychiatric institutions in Thailand, so as to enable them to go online with our platform. Individual psychiatrists are even more open about providing online services, as they are looking for ways to connect with their clients,” says Eix.
The government recently announced plans to use telemedicine to improve access to healthcare, especially for people living in rural areas; the rate of regulatory growth will be the determining factor in how quickly telemedicine reaches a meaningful scale and reaches more Thai people.
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