KEEPING PEOPLE ALIVE

Thailand 2017 | HEALTH & EDUCATION | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to, Dr. Chairat Panthuraamphorn, Managing Director and CEO of Samitivej Hospitals, on expanding, new projects, and key trends in the Thai market.

Chairat Panthuraamphorn
BIOGRAPHY
Dr. Chairat Panthuraamphorn is Managing Director of Samitivej Hospitals, responsible for seven hospitals (Samitivej and BNH group of hospitals). He joined the group in 2005 as Deputy Hospital Director of Samitivej Sriracha Hospital. In 2012, he was appointed Deputy CEO and was later promoted to Managing Director and CEO in early 2014.

What have been some of the recent major developments at Samitivej Hospitals?

Our hospital was founded in 1979, and is today considered one of the leading private hospital groups in Thailand. In fact, our flagship facility, Samitivej Sukhumvit, located on Sukhumvit Soi 49, is recognized as one of the most advanced private hospitals in Southeast Asia. Despite this, since our founding, we have always looked to expand our services and have added five more hospitals: Samitivej Srinakarin in eastern Bangkok, Samitivej Sriracha in southeastern Thailand, Samitivej International Children's Hospital in Bangkok, Samitivej Thonburi in western Bangkok, and Samitivej Chonburi north of Pattaya. Moreover, by expanding we have not only widened our presence, we have also looked to deepen our services and ensure they meet the highest international standards. Healthcare, more than any other sector, demands the highest service quality because our job is to keep people alive. This goes for our machinery, our doctors, other medical staff, and generally, our overall operations.

The group is reportedly eyeing further expansion in the ASEAN region. What will the recent integration of the AEC mean for this strategy?

We have a joint venture with a reputable hospital in Yangon, Myanmar, who is our strategic partner. We have set up a clinic in the hospital; however, recently we chose to further boost our presence there and decided to set up a new building that we expect to open soon. The AEC has simply allowed us to broaden our market and horizons. Thailand has a population of 60 million; however, if we expand our vision to ASEAN, we are open to a market of over 620 million people. In addition, Thailand is renowned for its highest standards of medical facilities and service qualities, more so than any country in the region, and is also approximately 30% cheaper than Singapore. Patients recognize this and it is up to us to seize this opportunity and make the most of the growing regional connectivity. To add to this regional dimension, we are currently building a new eight-story children's hospital specializing in newborns in Bangkok. Part of the reason is that we know that such facilities are severely lacking in countries like Myanmar and Vietnam. People are aware of our expertise in these fields, and we are confident that this facility will become one of the leading specialized children's hospitals in ASEAN.

What are some of the key recent trends in Thailand's health sector?

Our aging population is an important factor, as is the case in every country. We have to look carefully at how to help the aging people in this country and are also focused on geriatric care here at Samitivej. We have a geriatric center in Bangkok, which we are upgrading to provide more holistic, full services to our patients. Medical tourism is a major revenue generator for Thailand and this is another important trend to note. In the coming years, we expect an even stronger influx of patients from the region, specifically CLMV countries. We hope to also set up a center of excellence to study in more detail the health problems arising in the region and to look at how our specialized expertise in certain fields can meet these demands.

How would you describe Samitivej's growth strategy going forward?

Our current revenue lies at around THB15 billion per year, and in the first five months of 2016 we have already seen growth of 10%. In line with the trends mentioned and our strong position within both the domestic and the international markets, the future is bright for Samitivej. A final note to make is that going forward we will also look more into introducing preventive measures. It is not about only receiving patients when they are ill—we invite them for regular checkups to ensure that illnesses are detected early on and prevented. This is the key to a healthy society.