Vietnam is an emerging economy with a lot of potential. One of those areas of potential for foreign investors is in the healthcare industry. Vietnam, after all, has recently relaxed their policies regarding foreign investment and foreign employment. Their largely public healthcare system is further becoming increasingly privatised. This opens up many business opportunities within the Vietnamese Healthcare Industry.
The “Pharmacist Medical Treatment” Phenomenon
Vietnam operates under the “Pharmacist Medical Treatment” phenomenon, where mini-clinics are the go-to for most of the Vietnamese population, and where pharmacists are able to prescribe medication that is not just limited to items over the counter, as prescriptions are not necessary to have from a doctor. This phenomenon was born from the high hospital fees, long wait times, and the fact that to be admitted to hospital you must first be referred. This means that pharmacies are the primary healthcare system. This opens up a lot of potential within the pharmaceutical industry, particularly as medicine is sold by tablet, not by box, meaning more people could have access to your medication.
Vietnam is an Emerging Economy
Vietnam for years after the Vietnam war had closed its borders, but since opening them in 1986, it has steadily grown. This emerging economy has a GDP of over 194 billion USD, and health care takes up a large portion of government expenditure, with 7% of the GDP being committed to the healthcare industry. From 2000 alone, healthcare spending has increased from $20 USD per capita to $111 in USD in 2013. Even household spending has increased by more than 11% during that period. More money is going into the healthcare industry than ever before. Interested parties could take advantage of this growing sector by conducting healthcare market research, both at home and within Vietnam, so that they can provide the best and most attractive product or service for Vietnam’s citizens. Quality is what will make you stand out, especially if that quality is coupled with affordability.
Vietnam’s health care system is becoming increasingly privatized, due in part due to the introduction of their national healthcare insurance program in 1992. What started out initially as a program intended for state-owned enterprises has now expanded, and is expected to cover 84.3% of the population by 2020. This privatization has expanded into foreign investment, with the first public hospital becoming privatised in 2014. Similarly, the requirements for foreign healthcare professionals is exceedingly lax compared to other SE Asian countries, as doctors only require a medical license and will need to pay the medical license application fee of $1000 and to renew their work visa ($300) every three years. There is no language requirement, nor limitations to who can practice.
With this changing and evolving industry, there is so much potential for business within Vietnam. It is not wise, however, to go into this industry without properly researching. Different cultural values and legal limitations should be noted and addressed beforehand in order to guarantee success, which is why market research should be conducted both at home for quality, and within Vietnam itself to ensure it fits within their cultural values.