Thonburi Healthcare Group PCL (SET: THG) Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Tanatip Suppradit (M.D.) discusses the business performance during the Covid-19 pandemic, and the economic outlook in 2022.
1. What opportunities did you see from the Covid-19 crisis? And how has the Thonburi Healthcare Group managed to handle the situation?
It was a crisis, but the crisis is a lesson, as many of you have seen that THG worked very hard. Last year felt like a 10-year work. Over 6-7 thousand, all the employees worked hard all day and night. And the result was satisfactory. Just vaccination alone is hundreds of thousands of people. Not to mention the medical treatment and field hospital where we provided 4-5 thousand beds during the Delta wave. During the Omicron, we are still active today. After the Songkran festival, the case might double. But we must do it because this is our duty. Our occupation is medical treatment and making Thai people safe and disease-free.
2. What was the key to success that makes the turnover of THG business performance in 2021?
For the key to success, we are a group of hospitals that help the government and civil society work on Covid-19. Therefore, the key to success is the desire to help protect people from the disease. Next is the personnel. Thank you very much. I talked to many about those new generation doctors and nurses. They fought for life. They are white-robed heroes who are devoted to others. In terms of operating results last year, we did a lot, so we gained a lot. It reflected that any hospitals that provided medical care related to Covid-19 would get good results. But whoever did not do it might lose since ordinary people did not get sick as much. Flu, and diarrhea, are all gone because everyone’s hygienics are very good. Wearing a mask makes it almost impossible to catch a cold. Last year I didn’t have a cold at all. But for hospitals that offer tertiary care, such as cancer surgery, brain surgery, and heart surgery, the groups of people with serious diseases still exist.
3. What’s the goal for 2022?
In the picture of the first half, the situation is probably the same as the 2-3rd quarter of last year since there are still omicrons. Despite people getting sick, they are more careful. However, will any new Corvids be coming in the 3rd quarter of this year? No one can answer. Supposed if there were no, then it would gradually fade. Instead, it will be a matter of other diseases, which we must adjust as follows. Common conditions such as flu and diarrhea may not occur as much because people are still very good hygienic. The challenge is the loss of purchasing power due to the economy. So, entrepreneurs must adjust how they survive.
4. To what extent have you implemented the innovation related to digital technology?
We are in the era of global technology transformation from Web 2 to Web 3, where we see telemedicine and home medicine delivery. Therefore, everything integrates between healthcare, technology, and human behavior. Suppose the elderly can’t use it, I have an initiative that we will apply technology to Gen Y, but the patient is elderly. It will bring a combination of Generation and Technology. So, Gen Y is not sick, but they are the elderly helpers. We have recently started developing the digital platform, which we expect to launch within 1-2 months. This platform will simplify access to hospital services. Easier and more accurate. It’s an interesting year as several things are changing. It occurs in two dimensions at the same time. On the one hand, the resource side, which the doctor and nurse have adjusted. On the other hand, is the patient’s side. Covid-19 has forced every stakeholder to adapt to find a mutual point.
5. Today we are at Jin Wellbeing County. Can you tell us more about this project?
Jin is a prototype project that we aim to make a new standard for the country. The idea started about 7-8 years ago. It took us three years to build, and we finally finished about three and a half years ago. Gradually, householders were coming in, both the elderly and bedridden patients – those in need of a caretaker. Supposed not enough care at home, just stay here. Living here, the elderly will never feel trapped in a confined room. You don’t have to be afraid that you will fall somewhere, or it will be dangerous. A whole community featured a well-designed landscape, surrounded by the hospital’s CCTV network. And every room has a few alarms, both by the bed and in the bathroom, like hospital standards. When they twitched, a team of doctors and nurses would immediately rush to rescue them.
Most importantly, there is also a master key that the doctor can tap and get into the room. The most apparent difference between a hospital and a home is that the rooms are lockable and non-lockable. At Jin, it’s a combination of a house and a hospital. Therefore, people have two options. If they have a lot of treasure and don’t want to be disturbed, that’s okay. Just make it like an ordinary condo. However, despite a lot of glory in the room, you think that life is more vital, then you sign consent for us to hold the master key. Whenever there was an emergency alarm, we perceived you as a patient in a hospital ward.
6. What do you see as the major threats these days?
This year, I point to three main issues. First is the economy. What to do in an economic situation where the purchasing power of a whole country is gone? Will medical tourism come back? They will come for sure, but how soon?
The second is how the Covid goes. Looking at the graph, we suppose the Omicron is at its peak; it’s been two years and four months. Usually, according to biology, it runs like a bell shape. Not that tomorrow or next quarter it will disappear or go extinct. It will gradually fade within another year or two. At the same time, people’s behavior will change as they get used to it. Thus, the epidemic is another challenge.
Third, Multi-Generation and Technology, which is the transition of Webs. From Web 2, which we have been using for 15 years, to Web 3. They call it the “Scarcity of digitization.” Before, we contributed digital activities independently. Now it is scarcity like NFT and so on. This change, to some extent, will match healthcare as the scarcity of digitization makes it unique. Healthcare service, such as a patient consulting with a doctor, is one-on-one, not one-on-many. Therefore, if Web 3 technology is unique and private, it will maintain the one-on-one service.
Consequently, there will be more healthcare services on the Web 3 platform. Personally, I believe that the “scarcity of digitization” principle will continue to be the birthplace of essential healthcare on Web 3 and will bring about a genuinely viable service. The information base will be more individual. It also includes the issue of safety of practice. As a result, medical procedures will be safer for practitioners like me and the patients. In addition, they will contribute more “Trust” on Web 3.
7. What core values do you and your employees adhere to at work?
The main principle of THG is, first of all, quality and standard. And based on ethics. We must adhere to this. In the end, the business rewards will follow. We perceive healthcare as planting a perennial plant. We are planting trees that are hundreds of years old. Some of them might grow a bit slow. That’s fine. We see this as the core value. The ambiance surrounding, such as Aging society, Digital platforms, products like hemp and marijuana, or Wellness, are just add-ons. In the end, the core is medical treatment.
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