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With a population rapidly approaching 90 million, Vietnam is one of Southeast Asia’s fastest growing economies and demand for quality healthcare has risen steadily. VIR’s Song Ngoc asked Philips Healthcare ASEAN general manager Vincent Chan about how the company had started tapping into this potential market.
For many Vietnamese people, Philips is well-known for supplying high-quality electric home appliances. Why are you now moving to make Philips a well recognised healthcare sector brand here?
Philips is a global company of leading businesses, creating value with meaningful innovations to improve the health and well-being of people. Our ambition at Philips is to be the leading brand in health and well-being. For us, health and well-being encompasses enabling individuals to lead healthy and fulfilled lives and improving the experience of living in communities and societies across the globe. There are no clear boundaries between our healthcare, lifestyle and lighting businesses as contributions by the three sectors overlap. Good health is supported by a healthy lifestyle. In healthcare, our strategy starts from the perspective of the patient and care provider. We seek to improve patient outcomes throughout the “cycle of care”. Of course now we are trying to combine the strength of our healthcare brand in hospitals with our consumer brand, and that’s why we are now talking about home healthcare.
Philips entered Vietnam’s healthcare business in 1992 and has been working with several key hospitals in Vietnam including Bach Mai, Cho Ray and Gia Dinh among others. A 2009 report from Vietnam’s Ministry of Health revealed that about 30,000 Vietnamese had sought healthcare services overseas in the past few years. The tremendous growth seen in Vietnam’s economy has also created higher expectations amongst Vietnamese on the standard of healthcare services available in Vietnam. We believe this is the right time for us to continue building our presence in Vietnam’s healthcare sector, and help improve the life of local communities by introducing our latest portfolio of healthcare products and solutions.
Figures show that Vietnamese people’s spending on healthcare remains very low compared to other regional countries. Is it a disadvantage?
If you look at the total spending in healthcare, it may not be as significant as in other countries, and here Iam talking about the United States, which is a big country where their GDP per capita is higher. But if you look at the relative spending or the GDP in healthcare of Vietnam, it is significant. I think it is the commitment of the government to the people of Vietnam and it also continues with the growth of Vietnam’s economy. In detail, they spend more money in healthcare sector. With Vietnamese spending a total of $1 billion when travelling aboard, to Singapore for healthcare for example, let’s imagine if the money stays in Vietnam, it will be a significant amount.
Philips believes Vietnam is a strong growing market for healthcare where the people and the government are committed to healthcare development. We want to be part of this and we want to introduce our technologies to help hospitals here to get to the standard that the people expect in Vietnam.
What role will Vietnam have in Philips’ business plans?
Philips is committed to its Vision 2015 and aims to be a global leader in health and well-being, becoming the preferred brand in the majority of our chosen markets. Asia-Pacific continues to be a key market for Philips including Vietnam where its fast growing middle class represents tremendous opportunities for a multinational company like Philips. We are committed to expanding our presence in Vietnamand providing world class innovative solutions that will enrich the lives of Vietnamese individuals, families and communities.
What about Philips Healthcare’s growth in Vietnam compared to other neighbouring countries?
In Vietnam, demand for healthcare equipment has routinely grown by double digits over the past 20 to 25 years. In 2011, Philips Healthcare in Vietnam is expecting to double the value of orders placed in 2010.
Vietnam is considered a low-cost manufacturing base for foreign investors. Does Philips plan to establish a medical equipment manufacturing facility in Vietnam?
Today we manufacture lighting in Vietnam. Philips as a whole is also always looking for investment opportunities and it really depends on whether there are readily available manufacturing facilities here. So we are quite open to the opportunity and the right partners. It really depends on the timing.