Shortcomings in healthcare provision mean significant opportunities for investors in Vietnam's healthcare sector.
Vietnam’s economic growth and demographic changes are driving demand for healthcare services, not only in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City but also in Tier 2 cities and provinces, according to a report from Solidiance released on May 5, a leading Asia Pacific-focused B2B growth strategy consultancy trusted by Fortune 500.
By 2024 Vietnam will have an aging population, resulting in a notable shift in health problems. Living longer means Vietnamese are more likely to suffer the chronic illnesses and diseases of old age, the report noted, and these require a comprehensive improvement in the capabilities of the country’s healthcare system.
Central vs. provincial hospitals
Major hospitals in Vietnam are primarily concentrated in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
The two cities account for less than 20 per cent of Vietnam’s population but currently serve 60 per cent of all patients in the country. Central hospitals operate at over 100 per cent capacity while provincial hospitals work at only 60 per cent or less of their full capacity.
Provincial hospitals are improving, according to the report, but still lack advanced infrastructure and technology. Low bed capacities, for instance, lead to the prevalence of bed-sharing for in-patient treatment, which undermines treatment quality, and relative shortfalls in modern technology limits the range of treatment available to handle many common diseases.
Given these shortcomings and the relatively lower-level of treatment and services provided by provincial hospitals, highly-skilled healthcare professionals and patients are more attracted to central hospitals, which are better equipped with advanced technology and infrastructure.
Filling the healthcare gap: opportunities for the private sector
Acknowledging its limitations in meeting the growing demand for healthcare services, the Vietnamese Government aims to have private providers take on a more prominent role in the healthcare service market. Ambitiously, it aims for private hospitals to grow in both number and size to account for a minimum of 20 per cent of total bed capacity by 2020.
Market opportunities for the private healthcare sector have been traditionally centered in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, according to Solidiance, but emerging cities and provinces also offer potential.