Thailand country managers from three of the world’s largest medtech firms outline the level of innovation they are able to bring to the Thai market, how their technology is helping a stretched universal healthcare system to become more efficient, and the importance of education and partnerships within their overall strategies.
We are bringing unique technologies to the market in advanced areas such as neurosurgery
American giant GE Healthcare has been able to introduce some of its most advanced technology to Thailand. As Country Manager Rajan Kalidindi notes, “we are bringing unique technologies to the market in advanced areas such as neurosurgery.” Kalidindi continues, “For example, together with our partner Insightec, we introduced the region’s first MRI guided focused ultrasound system which can treat brain tumours in less than one hour without surgery.” And, for Kalidindi, innovation does not stop with technology. “Leveraging our global connections and insights into global healthcare trends, we have also introduced new healthcare concepts such as command centres and artificial intelligence (AI) to our customers in Thailand,” he asserts.
AI and its potential impact is a key talking point throughout global healthcare and Siemens Healthineers has already begun to utilise it in Thailand. Philippe Pedebosq, the Thai affiliate’s MD points out that, “Digitalization leads to different levels of transformation. The first is related to optimizing and/or automating the way medical systems are used in order to increase productivity and improve quality. This can be achieved using AI algorithms for instance. We have implemented 45 AI-powered solutions in our current product portfolio, which are also available in Thailand.”
For B. Braun, however, it does not make sense to bring such high-technology solutions to what is still an emerging market. MD Sayan Roy asserts that, “At the global level, technologies like AI are absolutely part of the conversation of B. Braun’s development. However, at the local level, our product portfolio is more traditional.” Roy is nonetheless at pains to state that, “the way we incorporate digitalization varies at different levels. For example, at the sales representative level, we are using technology for promotion. On the product side, we are using smart technology and digitalized systems for devices like infusion pumps and for surgical instrument system audits in hospitals.”
Creating Efficiency; Lowering Costs
We have formalised a collaboration with Ramathibodhi Hospital in Bangkok to establish home chemotherapy systems
Given that the Thai universal healthcare system is under severe pricing pressures, medtech firms are increasingly playing up how their solutions can drive greater efficiency and lower costs. “We want to work with stakeholders such as the Ministry of Health to improve the healthcare infrastructure and reduce the burden on the hospitals and clinics of Thailand,” notes Siemen Healthineers’ Pedebosq.
“This is where B. Braun comes in,” claims Roy. “For example, we have formalised a collaboration with Ramathibodhi Hospital in Bangkok to establish home chemotherapy systems. Not only does this help reduce operational costs, but it also helps create more open beds and therefore more opportunities to treat patients.”
For GE Healthcare, keeping costs to the healthcare system down has seen the firm roll out a specific affordable care portfolio (ACP). Kalidindi explains that, “At GE Healthcare, we aim to provide the right technology at the right cost. Countries in the ASEAN region are typically geographically challenged so developing point-of-care products and leveraging our ACP for example, are crucial to enhance the delivery of care while reducing costs for the health authorities. ACP aims to reduce the typical trade-offs between quality and affordability and enables physicians to make the most informed diagnoses and deliver quality healthcare for their patients.”
Education & Partnerships
[Education is] one of the core responsibilities of Siemens Healthineers
All three firms are looking to build greater links with the wider healthcare ecosystem in Thailand and beyond through the establishment of partnerships and educational programs. “B. Braun takes pride in playing a key role in educating and training healthcare professionals, which is in keeping with its vision of improving healthcare throughout Thailand,” notes Roy. “The Aesculap Academy, established in 2005, brings together the education, training, and expertise of different countries. As education has always been at the forefront of our company, we are happy to play a role in connecting international expertise with local leaders without requiring them to travel far outside of Thailand.”
For GE Healthcare, this has meant securing tie-ups with educational institutions to foster a higher overall level of research. As Kalidini points out, “At GE Healthcare, we recognize that innovation cannot occur in a vacuum.” He continues, “we have actively forged global partnerships around research and education in the pursuit of solutions that will bring about the best outcomes for our customers. In Thailand for example, we have leveraged our global connections to support one of Thailand’s most established medical universities by establishing a research collaboration, contributing insights on ASEAN patient demographics to the global medical research community. We are also looking into how we can partner AI start-ups and integrate their technology into GE Healthcare’s digital platforms, creating win-win solutions for our customers and helping start-ups scale their ideas.”
Pedebosq sees education as “one of the core responsibilities of Siemens Healthineers.” He adds, “We provide training on high-level technical skills in the fields of radiology, therapy and clinical laboratory. For example, a few months ago, we launched our Siemens Healthineers Academy in Bangkok which aims at training medical technicians from across the country on advanced diagnostic techniques.”
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