SET-listed Bangkok Dusit Medical Services (BDMS), Thailand's largest private hospital network, has entered into an agreement with China-based Ping An Health Insurance to tap the lucrative Chinese medical tourist market.
BDMS expects the agreement to attract 1,000-4,000 Chinese patients per year, generating 1-2 billion baht once travel returns to normal if the Covid-19 pandemic is resolved.
Narumol Noi-am, acting president of BDMS, said the Chinese market has potential because it is a large population with high purchasing power.
"BDMS wants to expand its healthcare business into this market in the future," she said.
Foreigners make up 30% of BDMS patients, including expats and tourists, with Thais making up the rest.
"Of the 30% foreigner patient share, Chinese patients make up 1-2%, the fifth largest group behind the Middle East, Japan, Myanmar and Scandinavia," said Mrs Narumol.
BDMS aims to increase Chinese patients to the third largest group.
BDMS has 8,000 beds and 49 hospitals. It is owned by healthcare tycoon and founder Prasert Prasarttong-Osoth.
Mrs Narumol said BDMS has no plans to expand its hospitals domestically or overseas, as the number of beds available can accommodate current demand from patients.
"The network has an outpatient department with around 30,000 patients per day and an inpatient department with around 4,000 patients per day," she said.
BDMS reported revenue for the first quarter of 2020 at 20.2 billion baht, with a profit of 2.56 billion.
In 2019, BDMS reported revenue of 92.5 billion baht and profit of 15.5 billion.
The Covid-19 outbreak has been devastating for the healthcare sector as foreign patients cannot travel to Thailand and many local people avoided going to hospitals during the pandemic.
"BDMS expects the government to ease more lockdown measures in the fifth phase, probably in the last quarter this year, to support businesses and the economy returning to normal," said Mrs Narumol.
Zheng Yang, chairman of Ping An Health Insurance, part of Ping An Group, a Fortune 500 finance and insurance group, said the strategic cooperation marks the further expansion of Ping An Health Insurance medical network and an improvement of its service capabilities.
The agreement also allows the possibility of more cooperation and exploration between medical institutions and insurance companies in the fields of medical treatment and payment, which is in response to the demands of Ping An Health members, said the company.
Ping An Health Insurance was established in 2005 after being approved by the China Insurance Regulatory Commission.