return icon

Healthcare levels up via tech groups

Technological disruption is expected to make vast changes in the healthcare sector, with huge opportunities for tech firms to venture deeper.



IT is commonplace in Vietnamese hospitals, but data links between them are lacking


Last week, a group of businesses from the EU-ASEAN Business Council held a meeting with Minister of Health Nguyen Thi Kim Tien to discuss prospects in the healthcare sector. SAP AG, led by digital government lead of Southeast Asia Claudia Chan, was among them.

SAP is the third-largest independent software supplier worldwide and the largest software group in Europe. Its business software applications are used by over 13,500 companies around the world in such industries as chemicals, high-tech, telecommunications, electronics, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, and consumer products.

Vietnam, which is being driven by growing consumption, a budding middle class, rapid urbanisation, and a market open to innovative pharmaceuticals, is a lucrative healthcare destination for SAP, which was established in the country in 2015.

The group is one of many technology firms looking at the Vietnamese healthcare industry to exploit growing local demand for digital transformation in order to increase access, with others including the likes of Qualcomm, Siemens, Bayer, and IBM Watson Health.

Siemens, for example, is supporting Vietnam’s path in leveraging digitalisation in healthcare. Even though the country consists of remote areas in the northern region, Siemens can help solve this by operating a virtual operation centre linking remote areas to hospitals in Hanoi, for instance.

“This kind of technology is the most promising approach,” explained Elisabeth Staudinger, president of Siemens Healthineers in the Asia-Pacific. “With the development of the healthcare sector in Vietnam, I do believe that the most likely method of co-operation is in public-private partnerships.”

Similarly, Bayer Vietnam is developing innovative solutions for cardiovascular disease patients and their caregivers to improve their quality of life, while IBM is promoting the application of IBM Watson Oncology software at medical facilities in the country to support doctors in selecting cancer treatment regimens for patients. IBM’s AI software is so far being used in Phu Tho General Hospital, Hanoi-based K Hospital, and Ho Chi Minh City Oncology Hospital.

Elsewhere, domestic technology giants such as FPT, Viettel, and VNPT are also joining the race. Last year, FPT signed an MoU with the Ministry of Health (MoH) on the application of IT in the sector in the 2018-2028 period.

“There will be more tremendous opportunities for overseas companies in Vietnam’s healthcare in the next 10 to 15 years as the local government is opening the market to take advantages of foreign investment to develop the industry amid the digital age,” Luke Treloar, strategy director and national head of healthcare at KPMG, told VIR.

“Vietnam is improving the healthcare system by applying the technologies of Industry 4.0. For example, Danang is determined to develop into a smart city, and large data management companies like Mobifone are co-operating with Vietnam Social Security - a major patient record database. These, and other factors together will help form Vietnam’s MedTech ecosystem, helping the country leapfrog regional peers,” Treloar added.

According to Minister of Health Tien, the healthcare sector has completed and issued policies to promote e-healthcare development.

Most hospitals are applying IT in operational management at different levels, such as telemedicine, aiming to support provincial hospitals and others. “The development of smart healthcare models, smart hospitals, and smart healthcare governance are the three key factors to develop the sector,” she said.

To this end, the key to improving healthcare quality and patient outcomes seems to lie in standardising processes and procedures, besides creating the infrastructure for digitalisation.

Looking ahead to when the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement comes into effect, and the national new foreign direct investment (FDI) attraction strategy is published, more business opportunities will come for technology firms across the economy, including the healthcare sector.

The country’s FDI attraction orientations and investment incentives will focus on output quality and contributions to the domestic sectors. These include the value chain, added value, applications, and transfer of high technology, as well as research and development and innovation.

Resolution No.52-NQ/TW of the Politburo was issued on September 27 on the country’s policies to actively join Industry 4.0, offering new opportunities for businesses. As a result, many technology companies in healthcare are now strategising accordingly.

Addressing a recent meeting on IT application in the sector, Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam called on businesses to take initiatives into the market. He asked ministries, including the MoH and the Ministry of Information and Communications, to allow leasing of IT application services of businesses to promote IT application in healthcare.

Over past years, the sector has made efforts to promote IT application from central to local levels. While statistics showed that all central hospitals applied IT software, information and data interconnection among hospitals remains weak.

The MoH is piloting electronic medical records and hospital management, including upgrading of informatics software for hospital management at six hospitals, namely Vietnam National Children’s Hospital, Thanh Hoa Children’s Hospital, Hanoi Obstetrics & Gynecology Hospital, National Traditional Medicine Hospital, Ha Tinh General Hospital, and Hue Central Hospital.

While talking about the potential in IT application in Vietnam’s healthcare sector, Treloar of KPMG also highlighted the country’s pharmaceutical sector with big potential.

“The pharmaceutical market of Vietnam could develop at twice the current growth rate of between 8 and 12 per cent. Based on our analysis and conversations with leading foreign-invested medical and pharma companies, the industry could grow considerably faster than current rates, if the right policies and incentives are adopted,” Treloar said.

According to him, innovative pharmaceuticals in Vietnam currently make up 3 per cent of the total volume, but more than 20 per cent of the value of the pharmaceutical industry. “In other markets, you can find innovative pharmaceuticals numbering 10 per cent of volume, so for now Vietnam remains a target growth market. There is a sizable opportunity for pharmaceutical, healthcare, and IT companies to provide innovative solutions to address unmet medical needs,” he said.

Tung Anh

Vietnam medical equipment market grows 18-20% in 2016-2020

Vietnam medical equipment market grows 18-20% in 2016-2020

Demand for better healthcare in Vietnam over the past years has greatly contributed to the growth of medical device market.  

Nielsen: Health becomes top concern among Vietnamese in Q2

Nielsen: Health becomes top concern among Vietnamese in Q2

Vietnam remains among Top 4 most optimistic countries globally, according to latest "Global Consumer Confidence" Survey.


Use of e-cigarettes by youth rockets with easy availability at shops

Many students and young people have been hospitalized in a deep coma after using e-cigarettes, which are easy to buy.

How will telecom carriers fare in a highly competitive market?

The traditional telecom market is getting saturated and facing upheavals, including a drop in revenue from traditional calls and SMS, a tighter management policy and changes in technology.

Number of international visitors to Vietnam sets 'record' after pandemic

Vietnam welcomed 2.95 million foreign visitors in January-November 2022, 21.1 times up year on year, but still down 81.9% compared with pre-pandemic levels in 2019.

Su-30MK2, Mi helicopters rehearse in Hanoi

On December 2, Su-30MK2 fighters performed in a rehearsal to prepare for the upcoming Vietnam International Defense Exhibition 2022.

Vietnam sends condolences over passing of former Chinese leader Jiang Zemin

Vietnamese leaders on December 2 cabled messages of condolences to Chinese leaders over the death of former General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and former President of China Jiang Zemin.

Ministry proposes canceling funding plans over disbursement delays

Disbursements of public funds sourced from foreign loans in the year through November had moved at a snail’s pace, reaching only slightly more than 25% of the full-year plan.

Hanoi to pilot bike rental service in six urban districts

Hanoi has approved a year-long pilot bike rental service programme in Hoan Kiem, Tay Ho, Dong Da, Ba Dinh, Hai Ba Trung, and Thanh Xuan districts.

Weightlifters hope for Olympic qualification from world championship

It was scheduled to be held in Chongqing, China, but this changed in March due to COVID-19 measures in China. The new location was announced in April.

Striker Nguyen Van Quyet named best player of 2022 V.League 1

Striker Nguyen Van Quyet received a statue for the most valuable player of the 2022 V.League 1 season at a V.League Awards ceremony organised on December 1 in Hanoi.

Meteor shower to light up Vietnamese skies on December 13

Local sky gazers will have a rare opportunity to witness the peak of the Geminids meteor shower, with the astronomical event set to occur between midnight on December 13 and the morning of December 14.

Da Nang wins Best Vietnam Smart City Award for third time

The central city of Da Nang has been granted the Best Vietnam Smart City Award 2022, the third time so far.

Newly-established, re-operating enterprises up over 33% in 11 months

Vietnam saw nearly 194,700 newly established and re-operating enterprises in the first 11 months of 2022, up 33.2% over the same period in 2021, a 1.3 times higher than the average rate in January – November period from 2017 - 2021.

Politburo members discuss review of resolution on HCM City development

Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong on December 2 chaired a Politburo meeting on a project to review the 10-year implementation of a resolution on the orientations and tasks for the development of HCMC until 2020 and 2030, with a vision to 2050.

Exporters face tax unless they cut greenhouse gas emissions

Exports to the EU market will become more expensive unless enterprises implement greenhouse gas emission cuts. This will affect the competitiveness of many Vietnamese export companies.

Some of the best fishing lakes in and around Hanoi

Here are some of the most popular fishing lakes near Hanoi. On weekends, the number of people flocking to commercial centres, pedestrian streets or entertainment areas in the inner city of Hanoi has increased.