From its origins owning a small hospital 50 years ago, today Bangkok Dusit Medical Services (BDMS) has become the largest hospital network in Asia-Pacific.
As Thailand reopened to mass tourism in 2022 and China negotiates opening its borders early this year, the Thai hospital group is poised for further expansion in the coming years.
Under the leadership of Dr Prasert Prasarttong-Osoth, the Thai billionaire and former surgeon, the SET-listed BDMS posted a market capitalisation of 461 billion baht as of Jan 25.
Company management outlined strategies to grow rapidly via mergers and acquisitions to allow BDMS to become Asia's leading hospital group, while strengthening Thailand's global competitiveness in the medical and healthcare businesses.
BDMS operates a large private hospital network in Thailand and Cambodia, featuring six hospital brands: Bangkok Hospital Group, Samitivej Hospital Group, BNH Hospital, Phyathai Hospital Group, Paolo Hospital Group and Royal Hospital Group.
The network also covers businesses that support medical care such as medical laboratories, medicine production and saline production.
The group's first facility, Bangkok Hospital, was established in 1972. Today BDMS has a total of 53 hospitals in its network that have been accredited by Joint Commission International.
The first hospital started with registered capital of only 10 million baht. It had four storeys and only 50 beds.
In 2004, the hospital expanded to two new buildings and increased the beds to 300, while in the same year the company bought a 48.5% stake in BNH Hospital.
The company decided to raise funds on the Stock Exchange of Thailand in 1991, using the stock symbol BGH before changing to BDMS in 2015.
In 2011, BDMS invested in Prasit Pattana Plc, which was the owner of Phyathai Hospital and Paolo Hospital, exchanging shares with former lawyer Wichai Thongtang's group. Mr Wichai's group has since become a major shareholder of BDMS behind Dr Prasert's group.
Dr Prasert groomed one of his daughters to take over Bangkok Dusit Medical Services.
BDMS is also a pioneer in the construction of specialised hospitals in Thailand such as Bangkok Heart Hospital, Bangkok Cancer Specialized Hospital, Wattanosoth Cancer Hospital, and Samitivej Children's Hospital.
The company now has a total of 8,215 beds, allowing patient referral to network hospitals that are best equipped to care for them. Operating hospitals in both Thailand and Cambodia strengthens BDMS's regional network.
Management created a succession plan for the second generation to lead the business. Dr Poramaporn Prasarttong-Osoth, the fourth daughter of Dr Prasert, took over as chief executive of BDMS in September 2020.
BDMS can continue to grow during the epidemic as the country reopens to foreign patients travelling to Thailand for treatment.
The company's net profit rose from 7.2 billion baht in 2021 to 7.9 billion in the first nine months of 2022.
To increase foreign patient income, BDMS plans to expand in the Chinese market for both disease treatment and wellness, hiring sales representatives in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu and Kunming.
BDMS plans to partner with Ping An, one of China's major insurers, to sell packages for surgery related to the heart, brain, cancer, bones and trauma. Joining forces with Ping An allows the company to access the insurer's "Doctor" app that boasts 420 million customers.
BDMS also wants to expand into new markets, including Saudi Arabia and Bangladesh. In the fourth quarter of 2022, revenue from patients from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam, China and Australia recovered significantly, with foreign income projected to return to pre-pandemic levels this year, according to the company.
Patient income from the Middle East remains lower than pre-pandemic totals.
BDMS informed the SET on Jan 25 it plans to establish a new subsidiary in Saudi Arabia to carry out marketing, advertising, and public relations activities in the Middle East. With registered capital of 10 million baht, the company holds 100% of the new subsidiary.
Over the longer term, BDMS expects earnings upside from collaboration with other companies and favourable trends in Thailand's ageing society.
"These trends should lead to higher revenues from Thai and international patients," wrote KGI Securities analyst Parin Kitchatornpitak in a report issued Thursday.
Krungsri Securities projects BDMS to post annual revenue growth of 6-8% during 2023-2025, supported by foreign and Thai patients (non-Covid) coming to treat complex diseases.
Other factors contributing to growth are increased revenue for specific disease centres, such as heart, cancer, brain, bone and trauma centres, as well as higher income from insurance patients and companies. BDMS entered into exclusive contracts with AXA, Prudential and Viriyah Insurance.
BDMS also aims to increase prevention and wellness revenue. The Global Wellness Institute forecasts the wellness market to grow 9.9% annually to US$7 trillion by 2025.
The company opened Dr Pharma pharmacy outlets in Thonglor and a PTT Rama IV petrol station last year. Ten more branches are scheduled for operation in 2023 in Bangkok, Nakhon Ratchasima, Phitsanulok and Uttaradit.
The brokerage forecasts BDMS to post a profit of 2.9 billion baht in last year's final quarter, up 12% year-on-year, attributed to higher foreign patient revenue, but down 13% quarter-on-quarter as income from Covid-19 and seasonal communicable disease patients decreased.
Income grew from health checks and foreign patients. With a waiting list of 12,630 in October, Krungsri projects foreign patient income could reach 6.3 billion baht, exceeding the pre-Covid level of 6.1 billion, helping to reduce the impact of lower income from Thai patients.
The utilisation rate is expected to dip from 76% the third quarter, but will be higher than the optimum level of 70%. Profit in 2022 is estimated at 12.4 billion baht, Krungsri said in its report.