Medical Tourism in AsiaPac: Market dynamics and Opportunities in 2018-2020

In the coming two years (2018-2020), the market will grow and evolve rapidly, and there are many factors to consider in order to stay on-top and ahead, i.e. to optimize and revise your products’ market presence proactively, and to successfully address the procurers’ needs.

Market development

In previous articles in this series on medical tourism in AsiaPac, we presented regional market volumes, growth rates, drivers and challenges, and described the most driven country-specific markets (ie. India, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, China and South Korea).

As a reminder, the HC tourism sector in SE Asia is fueled by push and pull factors.


  • Wealthy patients from emerging countries seeking qualitative high standard care abroad.
  • Middle class and underinsured patients from developing countries disenfranchised by their national healthcare systems, and therefore shopping outside of their own domestic HC system.
  • HC insurers are motivating patients to seek more cost-effective HC provision, to circumvent waiting lines, increase affordability for insurer and patient, and to enable greater procedural coverage.


  • Governments actively promoting their domestic HC to foreign patients, regarding medical tourism as a significant resource for economic development.
  • Private hospital chains and investors recognizing immense potential of this market and being drawn to the region.
  • Healthcare providers deploying referral systems to attract patients; e.g. service-companies and platforms to advise patients when selecting a country/hospital for HC.
  • Entrepreneurs are building technologically advanced facilities using foreign and domestic capital to meet the growing medical demands. This includes hiring physicians, technicians and nurses who are trained to international standards.
  • (More) affordable international air fares for intercontinental travel.
  • State-of-the-art technology being adopted by new service providers, compelling patients to trust foreign facilities, and building positive reputations for medical tourism providers.

Challenges and obstacles

Additional to the challenges we listed in the previous article (i.e. staff shortages, political (in)stability, and competitiveness and cost pressure), there are a couple more which we would like to highlight:

Regulations and uncertainties

  • Regulations, licenses, etc. are time consuming and can constrain growth.
  • When doing business in ASEAN countries, unpredictable regulatory situations have been one of the biggest hurdles for foreign medical device companies.
  • Political systems, economic development, cultural movements and preferences, etc. vary widely from one country to the next.

Lack of infrastructure

  • Currently the existing capacity is often lacking to accommodate the growing number of foreign medical tourists, therefore governments and hospitals are upgrading facilities and increasing their bed capacity.

The Opportunities

The HC tourism sector in AsiaPac presents unique opportunities for medical device producers.

The growing popularity of global healthcare is one of the leading drivers behind AsiaPac’s medtech consumption growth rate, which is one of the highest medical device market growth rates in the world. This strong trend attracts many new private investors to the region.

These growing opportunities, along with the increasing competitiveness and the pressing need for productivity, has led to:

  • multiple new hospital construction projects,
  • a soaring demand for medical and surgical equipment
  • and new innovative solutions

in order to improve the care provision processes, to effectively deal with staff shortages, and to accommodate the increased patient influx.

High-quality products and services, for a larger patient population, are under demand, as care standards are being raised. This goes hand in hand with HC tourism, and is heightening the competition amongst medtech firms to deliver the goods demanded.


In the next and final article in this series, we will dive deeper into practical go-to-market strategy-building; what to keep in mind when dealing with stakeholders and segmentation, and the focuses and solutions that are most in-demand in AsiaPac’s medical tourism market.

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About Bart Van den Mooter

Bart is the founder of TforG and works closely together with over 50 global companies such as Abbott, Baxter, GE, J&J, Medtronic, Philips, Stryker and Covidien. In this function, he spends a lot time with Key Opinion Leaders and Health Policy makers in Europe and in Emerging Markets. He graduated at the Polytechnic University of Leuven with a Master of Engineering and has an MBA (Flanders Business School).