Thailand’s Medical Economy: Opportunities in Healthcare and Aging Care

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Healthcare spending in Thailand in 2023 amounted to approximately US$24.6 billion. Medical tourism alone contributed US$9 billion to Thailand’s healthcare sector in 2023, driven primarily by visitors from Myanmar, the Middle East, and China, as well as a host of other visitors from Vietnam, Cambodia, South Korea, and Laos, the United States and United Kingdom.

Private clinics, public health centers, and care facilities drive healthcare infrastructure in Thailand. Private hospitals account for only 1% of total healthcare infrastructure but generated revenue of US$9.5 billion in 2023. The rise in demand for Thailand’s private hospitals can in part be attributed to the country’s increasing popularity as a medical tourism destination, as well as the aging population present in Thailand and around the region. In 2022, Thailand’s private hospitals experienced 60.8 million patient visits. Meanwhile, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) estimated an average of more than 10 million medical tourism visits annually to Thailand.

Thailand is advancing its healthcare technology (HealthTech) sector at a steady pace. The HealthTech sector in Thailand is projected to be worth US$1.4 billion by 2025, driven by the rise of telemedicine and mobile health applications. However, the proportion of investment and market value of HealthTech in Thailand lags Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam.

Thailand’s senior healthcare sector is thriving due to the country’s rapidly aging population, with more than 20% or nearly 14 million of the total Thai population projected to be ages 65 years or older by 2036. According to Ministry of Public Health and Senior Health Service and Trade Association (SHSTA), an estimated 5% of those aging individuals will become bedridden or require full-time support by 2030. An additional 25% of aging individuals will suffer from dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, or depression and will face mobility issues. As a result, Thailand’s aging population is fueling a surge in demand for senior healthcare services, boosting nursing care and senior living revenue to US$70 million in 2023.

Foreign seniors are also a growing target for premium and upmarket senior care homes, with an increasing number of long-stay foreign retirees. According to the Annual Global Retirement Index 2023, Thailand ranked 9th (tied with Italy) out of 16 countries for the best places to retire in terms of quality of life and low cost of living for expat retirees. In 2022, a total of 4,842 long-stay visas were issued to foreigners in Thailand, with retirees accounting for 30%.

Opportunity# 1: Meeting the Rising Demand of Senior Healthcare and Homecare

To keep pace with the growth in senior healthcare and homecare, there is an accelerated demand for high-quality caregivers and management systems. Established businesses, such as hospitals and healthcare institutes, can transition more rapidly into the homecare sector than new companies but still require IT systems and innovations to support the limited resources of skilled nurses and personnel. Meanwhile, new nursing care and nursing home businesses are now exploring training courses or franchising opportunities to enhance the skills of their nurses and bolster their human resources.

Besides senior care services, demand is also rising for:

  •  Medical devices, including homecare devices, assistive devices, and wearable devices, all of which help seniors live more independently. According to Kasikorn Bank’s research, home medical and assistive devices were valued at approximately US$221 million in 2021, with an expected average annual growth rate of 8% over the next five years.  
  •  Healthy functional food and beverage for seniors, including dietary supplements, organic foods, and therapeutic foods from quality raw materials.

Opportunity# 2: Providing In-Home Medical Devices

Standard homecare devices such as blood pressure monitors, blood glucose meters, pulse oximeters, nebulizer, suction machines have become essential parts of first aid kits at home, especially for supporting senior Thai citizens.  Meanwhile, there is high demand for semi-advanced devices such as autonomic nervous system (ANS) assessment tools, heart rate variability monitors, electroencephalography (EEG), sleep tests, and Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT). There is also high demand for assistive and rehabilitation devices such as hospital beds, standing assist rails, ramps, and chair lifts to provide better assistance for seniors in need of rehabilitative care.  

Regulatory Considerations

Thai regulators require all senior care operators and businesses to register with the Department of Health Service Support and obtain the Care Facility License prior to starting their business. Applicants can be either a Thai corporate entity or a Thai national individual. Foreign businesses that wish to operate senior care facilities in Thailand must first register their Foreign Business License (FBL) for Thai business entities. Similar to other sub-sectors in the healthcare business, foreign businesses not yet established or operating in the Thai market should consider appointing an in-country representative or forming a joint venture with a Thai partner to assist in Care Facility License registration.

Meanwhile, foreign companies wishing to enter the Thai market via a trading company rather than establishing a manufacturing/care/training facility may be granted a Board of Investment (BOI) promotion by the applicable activity as an international trading business. This designation allows the company to enjoy incentives such as 100% foreign ownership; land ownership rights; and facilitation of visas and work permits, albeit without tax holidays, subject to certain conditions.

How Tractus Can Help

With more than 25 years of experience helping companies successfully expand their businesses in Asia, Tractus is here to help turn your ASEAN expansion goals into operational reality. Contact Tractus today to learn how we can support you with understanding government regulations, licensing, partner search & identification, government investment incentives & promotions, site selection, and more.


Authored by

Yada Saraneeyatham is a Senior Research Analyst based in Bangkok.


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