The market for ultrasound imaging equipment in the ASEAN region is set to increase by nearly 45 percent between 2012 and 2017, driven by increasing government investment to improve healthcare infrastructure and plans to provide universal health care to the population.
Ultrasound revenue in the 10-nation bloc forming the Association of Southeast Asian Nations is projected to climb to nearly $230 million in 2017, according to a recent report entitled “Ultrasound Strategic Analysis – Emerging Regions – 2013” from IHS Inc. (NYSE: IHS). Revenue will be up from approximately 160 million in 2012.
Growth of the ultrasound market in ASEAN is due in part to government efforts in many countries there putting greater emphasis on expanding healthcare insurance coverage to the region’s citizens, in order to ensure that they have access to basic healthcare services. Indonesia, for example, aims to provide universal healthcare by 2019, while Vietnam seeks to broaden health insurance coverage to 70 percent of its population by 2015.
As a result of these measures, demand for better-equipped and higher-quality healthcare infrastructure is expected to rise within ASEAN, At the same time, new challenges could arise.
“As the governments in ASEAN extend national healthcare insurance in their jurisdictions, a country’s current healthcare system may struggle to cope with the increased demand coming from the large number of new patients,” said Carly Reed, senior analyst for medical imaging research at IHS. “Therefore, it will be essential for the ASEAN governments to invest in new and upgraded medical imaging systems, including ultrasound, to better equip public-sector hospitals.”
Healthcare investment in ASEAN has traditionally focused on large cities in the region, such as Manila in the Philippines and in Indonesia’s Jakarta. But with the new initiative, demand for improved healthcare services and medical equipment will now be strongest from those living in the rural areas. Here cost-effective ultrasound systems will be essential in extending diagnostic imaging services to smaller hospitals and clinics where budgets are limited. Portable equipment will also be vital in the countryside, where doctors may have to travel long distances between communities and households to provide care, Reed noted.
Because of increased government investment and the growing number of patients entering the public healthcare system, the private sector in ASEAN is also projected to experience greater demand. For those able to afford the expense, shifting to the private sector could prove an attractive option given the decrease in waiting times and access to higher-quality services typical of benefits in the private market. Such a development, in turn, will boost growth for higher-specification ultrasound equipment as competition intensifies among private providers to attract new patients and increase medical tourism opportunities.
Overall, healthcare expenditure in much of ASEAN is still far below the levels seen in mature healthcare markets. As such, government investment in healthcare will continue to play a pivotal role in the growth of the ASEAN ultrasound market for the foreseeable future.