Doing Business

Unveiling the healthtech landscape in Vietnam

Trường Lăng

September 7, 2023

Doing Business

Unveiling the healthtech landscape in Vietnam

Trường Lăng

September 7, 2023

In today’s era, health technology (healthtech) has emerged as a powerful force, utilizing digital solutions to revolutionize healthcare delivery and accessibility. From telemedicine to wearable devices, health data analytics to artificial intelligence, healthtech encompasses an array of innovations that have the potential to reshape the healthcare industry. By enhancing efficiency, reducing costs, improving quality, and empowering patients, healthtech stands poised to usher in a new era of healthcare.

Global and regional healthtech landscape

The global healthtech market is on an upward trajectory, projected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.1% from 2020 to 2027, reaching an astounding $639.4 billion by 2027. This surge is driven by factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic, spurring demand for remote patient monitoring, telehealth, and mHealth solutions. Additionally, the rise in smart devices, wearable technology adoption, and breakthrough technologies like artificial intelligence and blockchain play pivotal roles.

The Asia-Pacific region is a frontrunner in the healthtech boom, boasting a CAGR of 16.3% from 2020 to 2027. With over half of the global population residing in this region, challenges such as aging demographics, chronic diseases, urbanization, pollution, and healthcare resource scarcity create fertile ground for healthtech startups and investors. In 2020, Asia-Pacific witnessed over 5,000 healthtech startups securing a staggering $8.5 billion in funding, according to Galen Growth.

Navigating Vietnam’s healthtech terrain

Vietnam, an emerging market in Southeast Asia, with a population nearing 100 million and a 4.41% GDP growth rate in the first 6 months of 2023, has made substantial strides in healthcare system enhancement. Achieving universal health coverage for over 90% of its citizens signifies progress. Yet, hurdles remain—low public health expenditure (just 4.68% of GDP in 2020), unequal healthcare access, affordability concerns, high out-of-pocket payments (nearly 40% of total health expenses in 2020), and escalating non-communicable diseases (constituting 81% of total deaths in 2019).

These challenges underscore the demand for healthtech solutions to elevate healthcare access, quality, efficiency, and affordability. Reports by Startupblink and HealthTech Alpha place Vietnam at the 31st spot globally for health innovation in 2020, up from 36th in 2019. Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City also earn accolades as the 13th and 15th best cities for health innovation in the Asia-Pacific region. 

Notably, this year, Vietnam has seen the emergence of more than 187 vibrant healthtech startups. In an earlier part of the year, East Ventures, a prominent investment fund in Southeast Asia, made headlines by committing a substantial 2 million USD investment into Medigo, a telehealth platform operated by a Vietnamese startup. This investment round also saw the participation of Pavillon Capital and Touchtone Partner, further solidifying the growing interest in this dynamic sector.

Pioneering Healthtech Innovators in Vietnam

Several standout healthtech startups in Vietnam exemplify the country’s promising trajectory:

Unveiling the healthtech landscape in Vietnam
Unveiling the healthtech landscape in Vietnam

The consecutive and successful fundraising rounds of healthtech firms in Vietnam underscore the immense potential within this sector, according to industry experts. Beyond the well-established players, the market has also witnessed the emergence of promising new brands like khoduoconline, YouMed, and MedPro.

Huong Trinh, CEO of BDA Partners, a leading advisory firm specializing in cross-border M&A, capital raising, and financial restructuring across Asia, highlighted how the healthtech industry has emerged as a new focal point for investment. This shift comes in response to the surging demand for online healthcare services, a trend that has gained significant momentum, particularly in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Unlocking Vietnam’s Healthtech Potential

Several underlying dynamics contribute to the burgeoning potential of Vietnam’s healthtech market:

Large and Youthful Demographic

With over half of Vietnam’s population under the age of 35, a burgeoning youth market yearns for healthtech solutions tailored to their preferences—seamless convenience, personalization, digital integration, and innovation. This presents an unparalleled opportunity for tech-driven healthcare solutions to resonate with the digital-native generation.

Rapid Urbanization

Surging urbanization, where more than 36% of the populace resides in cities, prompts a high demand for healthtech solutions addressing urban challenges like pollution, stress, lifestyle ailments, mobility, and connectivity. The urban landscape’s unique healthcare demands open avenues for innovative digital interventions to enhance the quality of urban living.

Elevating Middle Class

Vietnam’s middle class is rapidly expanding, with an estimate of 17 million middle class households in 2030. This surge fuels the need for healthtech solutions delivering enhanced healthcare quality, affordability, accessibility, preventive care, and wellness. The rising middle class seeks healthcare experiences that align with their improved socio-economic status.

Government Support

Backed by robust initiatives such as the National Digital Transformation Roadmap to 2025 and vision to 2030, including digital health transformation, the National Strategy on Industry 4.0, the Telemedicine Strategy for 2020-2025, “Doctor for Everyone” telehealth system, and the National Startup Program 2016-2025, the government paves the way for healthtech innovation and entrepreneurship by offering funding, infrastructure, regulations, incentives, and collaborations. This support creates an ecosystem conducive to health tech advancement.

Navigating Challenges in Vietnam’s Healthtech Sphere

Alongside immense promise, Vietnam’s healthtech landscape presents formidable challenges:

Data Privacy and Security Deficit

A frail legal framework and enforcement mechanism for data privacy and security raise concerns, jeopardizing trust for users and providers of healthtech solutions. Addressing this necessitates robust data privacy regulations, fortified security laws, and stringent compliance and monitoring systems. In 2020, Vietnam ranked 25th out of 194 countries in the Global Cybersecurity Index (GCI) underscores the urgency. Strengthening data protection is pivotal to fostering confidence in healthtech solutions.

Talent and Skills Scarcity

A dearth of skilled health tech professionals, encompassing technical expertise, business acumen, and innovation mindsets, poses a hurdle. Rectifying this entails strengthening the education and training ecosystem while refining strategies to attract, retain, and nurture healthtech talent. Fostering a skilled workforce is integral to driving innovation and sustaining the sector’s growth.

Fragmented Healthcare Ecosystem

Vietnam’s healthcare system, replete with diverse stakeholders—public and private providers, insurers, regulators, patients—demands concerted efforts to foster collaboration, streamline coordination, and establish common platforms and protocols for seamless healthtech integration across levels and sectors. Overcoming fragmentation is essential to realizing the full potential of healthtech solutions.

Navigating Regulatory Complexities

An intricate and evolving regulatory landscape for healthtech solutions introduces uncertainty and barriers. Clear definitions and classifications for various healthtech categories, the formulation of specific guidelines and quality standards, and harmonization with international best practices are critical imperatives to overcome regulatory hurdles. Streamlining regulations is pivotal to enhancing investor confidence and fostering innovation.

In Closing: Nurturing Healthtech Innovation in Vietnam

Healthtech’s potential for innovation in Vietnam is undeniable. Yet, realizing this potential demands a profound understanding of market dynamics, as well as strategic approaches to overcome challenges. By embracing opportunities and forging tailored solutions, healthtech startups and investors can fuel Vietnam’s healthcare revolution, steering it toward a brighter, technologically empowered future.

Are you ready to be a part of Vietnam’s healthtech transformation? Whether you’re an investor seeking promising ventures or a visionary entrepreneur ready to make a mark, the time is ripe to harness the power of healthtech. Together, let’s drive progress, unlock opportunities, and shape a healthier tomorrow.

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