Thailand promotes medical robotics

The Thailand Board of Investment (BOI) has offered a number of investment promotion incentives related to medical robots. This comes as part of the country’s Thailand 4.0 vision and is part of is drive to push its expertise in medical services and medical devices.

The maximum corporate income tax (CIT) exemption is eight years for both the manufacture of automation machinery/equipment with engineering design, and the manufacture of high-risk or high-technology medical devices. The CIT exemption for the assembling of robots or automation equipment/parts is only 5 years.

According to the BOI, surgery-assist robots, therapeutic robots, patient care robots and the like are considered medical devices because they have clear medical treatment functions.

The Ministry of Science and Technology, Ministry of Public Health and Ministry of Education have jointly set up a committee to promote medical and health related innovations.

The country does have a track record with surgical devices. In 2017, Bangkok-based Ramathibodi Hospital successfully performed the first robot-assisted brain surgery in Asia. Since then robot-assisted surgery has been adopted in many hospitals for different operations like spine, heart, eyes, intestine, and gynaecologic surgery.

In terms of services, medical service robots are increasing in demand too. As well as the well-known elderly care robot Dinsow, and medical dispenser robot Bumbee, medical robotics have been used in a number of areas. Robotodoctor, for example, is a remote presence system being used in a number of hospitals. It allows 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.