Thailand Still Has Long Way From Becoming A Medical, Research, Biotech and Medical Device Development Hub
Despite the recent commendable initiatives by the Thai Government and various agencies in trying to spearhead Thailand
as a Regional Hub for medical
procedures, medical research, biomedical innovations and even as a production hub for biotech products, pharmaceuticals and medical devices, it will still take a long way before this realization can actually can take place and one of the main obstacles to progress in this growth is basically the mentality of stakeholders in this industry , ie from government officials to private business owners and key executives.
In the first place, many of these people do not really understand that a proper ecosystem need to be in place not just investments but also a skilled a labour force, support from overseas informative and data sources, and more so all the peripheral smaller industries to support this including media specifically related to this industry and also medical
and biotech marketing
I am writing this article from a bias perspective ie focusing primarily on the importance of medical media
and also medical marketing
I have seen so much monies being spent by various government agencies on initiatives and events etc but nothing covered by the mainstream media or even specialized medical media
both locally and overseas. Reason being is that most these government agencies are employing incompetent PR and marketing
personnel and in some cases, to quote a certain lady executive from such a government agency “Oh we have our own websites and the government PRD department to handle the news of our projects and that should suffice!”
With such an attitude like that, I do not think that her agency is going far! In the first place, not many people are aware of her site and secondly, the reality is that not many people are interested in the propaganda that spews out from any government news agencies.
Then they are some government agencies and government hospitals that do have their own PR and marketing
staff or use external PR companies, but again these highly incompetent individuals think that getting a coverage in Thai Rath (no one reads the rest of the Thai media anymore except Thai Rath) and one of the two English language media would suffice (by the way one of these English media only has only a low viewership per month comprising mostly of low end foreigners residing in Thailand with little education and no purchasing power while the other is indirectly controlled by a political party that publishes garbage news and also fake statistics about its viewership) What is even more hilarious is that the uneducated journalist covering these medical and biotech events have no clue about the subjects and often write distorted versions that can backfire.
In the past, a press conference about an immunotherapy protocol that was further refined by credible Thai doctors from a government hospital, was unfortunately organized by the incompetent PR and marketing staff from the hospital and also a related government agency, which resulted in distorted and wrong coverages in the media, that wrote as if the hospital doctors had discovered this protocol for the first time. The amount of negative comments online that resulted was phenomenal and it indirectly destroyed Thailand’s credibility as a medical innovations
hub! (off course not sure that if these illiterate buffoons even knew or read these online comments!)
We also see the same problem with lots of private hospitals, where despite paying so much for their in house PR and Communications teams, very little is achieved. Some have social media accounts with hundreds of thousands of paid facebook followers but very little engagement on the subsequent articles.
When we checked on the websites of various hospitals under one of the largest private hospital groups, we found that most of them never updated their news sections although there were so much to talk about in terms of their achievements, progress, their new procedures, new doctors and specialists etc.
Once in a while some of the private hospitals in Thailand
might hold a press conference to announce something that is totally insignificant with the wrong media invited!
When it comes to research, there are so much new research being done in Thailand
that its newsworthy (but again be warned as I have to say that only about 20% of these are really new and innovative research as the rest are basically what I called ‘reengineered’ or ‘revisited’ research ie there has already been so much past research done about the same topic eons ago and the researchers are merely doing it again, sometimes from a very insignificant new perspective. Even in the case of biomedical engineering innovations, I have found that many Thai biomedical engineers are merely copying and trying to reinvent something that is already done or ongoing elsewhere but trying to merely showcase themselves locally as being innovators and what is worst is that some of these government agencies being ignorant actually support some of these charlatans without realizing the possible future backlash from the international community! But coming back to my point, for the many really great and innovative research done, many of these doctors, biomedical engineers and healthcare professionals think that getting it published in a medical journal is sufficient, they fail to realize that sharing their work with the media and getting common and business people aware of their projects might actually help lead it somewhere instead of lying around in some old journals that collect dusts or in some online portal that no one sees!
We also have one of the leading medical
teaching institutes in Thailand
and also its hospital, where the incompetent PR team does not know how to get the right media to attend its press conferences and also the right contents to disseminate. (in some cases, just to impress their bosses we have seen journalists from the entertainment or celebrity news beats or media or other irrelevant media attending medical press events!)
Then we have certain government agencies that spent so much monies on initiatives that seem to go nowhere and with very little public awareness as it seems that their websites and the government PRD department or the government news agencies had failed to help them get awareness.
This observations are also seen in many private medical and biotech related companies, where their PR and marketing staff are simply hopeless with no marketing or communication strategies and most of the time are just some pretty face with no brains or just having a surname that got them the job or worst still, relatives of the owner!
When we did a simple poll and asked 40 Thai healthcare professionals and 20 Thai university students about certain ongoing initiatives that are considered great projects by us such as the Yothin Medical Innovation District, The Medicopolis Project in Chiangmai etc….we found that none of them knew anything about it.
I have also come across a lot of pharma companies, medical device manufacturers and distributors who do not know how to engage with the media,and worst even know about marketing and PR and how it can help their business. The same goes for many hospitals, clinics and even doctors. Something think that facebook marketing is all there is (PS: facebook is these days mostly used by the lower end strata that do not have much purchasing power! and is literally a dying platform! when it comes to marketing)
I could go on ranting, but my parting shot to the various stakeholders, learn to drop your ego and learn to be collaborative and also learn to engage with the relevant media and also understand the need for specialized medical media in these fields and also specialized PR and marketing people who understand medical
and marketing subjects. Learn that by collaborating and also nurturing newer Thai medical
and biotech media
, it also benefits your industry and initiatives. While we have been more than happy to help and support this industry, the leaders of these Thai government agencies have been extremely reluctant. And the same goes for various hospital directors who have very myopic and egoistic attributes. All I can say is that their days of reckoning are coming in the next few months as various new digital disruptors backed by foreign groups will be emerging in the local market that can impact many developments in the local medical
Thailand has a great potential to truly become global medical, biotech
and research hub, but all stakeholders have to learn to truly work collaboratively and also understand the importance of having right medical marketing people and medical media
to support this initiatives. The purpose of this article is not to discredit or condemmn anyone but for all stakeholders to wake up and learn to work together and be supportive of each other. I sincerely hope that this article will reach the hands of our great Prime Minister HE Prayut Chan O Cha as despite all his great initiatives and hard work, there are many in the government agencies whose attitudes are causing him and the Thai government a lot of letdowns and criticism despite it not being his fault. He is unfortunately being hoodwinked by the staff of some of these agencies who only show him the good stuff but not the reality of how they are failing and using government and tax payers monies in an inefficient way.