Medical technology industry in China - statistics & facts
The global medical technology industry is a multibillion-dollar business, with the United States being the largest contributor. However, China has been slowly closing the gap between itself and the United States as a viable market. Having over 33 thousand hospitals to cater to, the Chinese market has expanded sizably, with companies such as Mindray Medical, Intco, and Lepu Medical dominating it. Driven by a growing middle class and an aging population, coupled with favorable policies and technology advancements, industry experts expected a positive outlook for the Chinese medtech market.
How is the import and export trade?
China’s medical equipment industry has relied on imports primarily from the United States, Germany, and Japan, especially for high-end and innovative technology products. In the first half of 2023, imported diagnostic and treatment equipment cost the Chinese economy more than 20.7 billion U.S. dollars. On the other hand, China’s medical device exports expanded significantly after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly from low-end technology. The United States, followed by Japan and Germany, was its major export destinations.
What are COVID-19 impacts on the Chinese healthcare industry?
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic that originated in China, the Chinese government had to fast track the reformation of its healthcare system. Measures such as the distribution of patients across the tier-system of healthcare institutions, integrating artificial intelligence to enhance diagnosis equipment, and the amendment of drug laws allowing pharmacies to introduce new medicines more efficiently, were taken to respond to the outbreak. However, certain areas of the healthcare system still warrant improvement in terms of efficiency. Digitalization seems to be the answer allowing for electronic patient data logging and online dispensation of pharmaceutical supplies. The pre-pandemic boom of offline-online healthcare services had been pushed further, whereas the use of digital platforms such as Ping An Good Doctor and Dingxiangyuan (DXY) for online consultations and making appointments was on the rise in China.
In parallel, COVID-19 has raised concerns over dependency on global medtech supply chains in China. To reduce the supply risks, the Chinese government will likely push to localize manufacturing of some medical products after the pandemic, such as extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). Local companies will be the primary beneficiaries. Some market observers projected that there would be more favorable policies for multinationals in localizing their manufacturing in China in the future.
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