Malaysia is turning out to be the new healthcare investor destination as a proactive government and burgeoning aging population fuel the demand for healthcare services. In 2013, Forbes ranked it as the third best country to retire in, and the aged care industry is expected to be worth $1.2 billion by 2020. Medical tourists and foreign retirees too are choosing Malaysia due to the lower cost of healthcare and other incentives. Overall, there will be no shortage of customers for domestic and foreign healthcare providers in the country.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, Malaysia Healthcare Outlook, covers the scope of the healthcare services, connected health, medical devices, pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and aged care segments. In 2013, the hospital market was the top segment in terms of revenues, followed by the pharmaceutical and medical devices segments. Targeting the hospital, pharmaceutical and medical devices segments will be wise as they are expected to register a compound annual growth rate of 17.3 percent, 11.4 percent and 14 percent, respectively, for the 2012-2018 period.
"With the Malaysian Government's launch of Entry Point Project (EPP) to expedite the approval process for foreign investment and reduce regulatory hassles, the country has become an attractive destination for foreign healthcare investors," said Frost & Sullivan Healthcare Research Analyst Dr Siddharth Dutta. "The healthcare industry also remains a lucrative space for domestic companies, which are being supported in their expansion plans by venture capital and funding agencies like Khazanah Nasional."
However, the bureaucratic process to set up businesses is still relatively tedious and can deter investment in the healthcare industry to some extent. Moreover, widespread bribery and corruption, shortage of qualified healthcare professionals and skilled workers, and lower awareness of advanced healthcare technologies is reducing the quality of healthcare services.
In addition, competition from private aged care homes and the imposition of the six percent goods and service tax (GST) in 2015 will drive healthcare costs up and further weaken the value proposition of market participants.
"To effectively penetrate the Malaysian market, multinational healthcare companies must enter joint ventures with local manufacturers and contract manufacturing organizations," stated Dutta. "This will create a symbiotic ecosystem, in which local companies will have access to capital, technology and intellectual property while their counterparts will benefit in terms of capturing a bigger market."
Both multinational healthcare companies and local participants could consider adopting a segment-specific focus to stand apart from the competition. Some healthcare industry players are already using this approach by concentrating on the halal medicine segment.