Under its Thailand 4.0 vision, Thailand plans to leverage on its reputation and excellence in medical services and medical devices and strengthen its position as the regional medical hub. To promote medical robotics, Thailand Board of Investment (BOI) has offered a wide range of investment promotion incentives.
Thai Public Sector support the field of medical robotics
The Ministry of Science and Technology, Ministry of Public Health and Ministry of Education have jointly set up a committee with a key responsibility to promote medical and health related innovations. Many public organizations have been established to promote research and development as well as investment into human resources training. Apart from the Board of Investment, many public and private organizations have been working closely together to drive medical innovation.
Thailand is making good progress in the development and use of robotics in the field of medicine and promoting investment in robotics technology. Medical robots have been used and promoted in Thailand in many areas, including surgery, diagnosis, rehabilitation and services.
Innovations in Thai medical robotics
In surgery, robotics and innovations are gaining ground, especially in complicated surgery. Back in 2017, Ramathibodi Hospital, a leading government hospital in Bangkok and a reputable medical school, successfully performed the first robot-assisted brain surgery in Asia. Today, robot-assisted surgery has been adopted in many hospitals for different operations like spine, heart, eyes, intestinal, and gynaecologic surgery.
For rehabilitation and therapy, robots have played more important roles in assisting patients with lost limb movements and in therapy. SensibleTAB and SensibleSTEP, for example, was developed by a local company to help patients with arm and leg injury perform practiced movements aided by the robots. SensibleSTEP, a robot for rehabilitative gait training, is the winner of i-MEDBOT Innovation Contest held by Thailand Center of Excellence for Life Sciences (TCELS).
With local production, the cost of such robot development is relatively low compared to the imported ones. This means more opportunity for patients to have access to robotic therapy.
High demand for existing medical robots
In terms of services, medical service robots are increasing in demand. In addition to the well-known Dinsow, elderly care robot, and BUMBEE medical dispenser robot, medical robotics have been used in more areas. ROBODOCTOR, for example, is a remote presence system being used in a number of hospitals, allowing specialist doctors in hub hospitals to assist doctors in remote hospitals in diagnosing and treating patients with complicated conditions, such as stroke. The result is faster and more efficient diagnosis and treatment.
In addition to robotics, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is playing such an important role in research and development (R&D) and in assisting doctors in performing complicated surgery. With the investment and advances into medical robotics and the strong support from several government agencies, Thailand is looking towards leading the way in becoming the latest healthcare innovation hub.