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Health IT – Exporting Critical Services to TPP Countries and Beyond

January 7, 2016

Marcus Jadotte is ITA’s Assistant Secretary for Industry and Analysis.

Health Information Technology (Health IT) has the potential to be one of the world’s most transformative industries over the next few years. The use of electronic health records to comprehensively collect and organize patient information, remote monitoring and telemedicine services to treat patients, and the use of statistical and analytical tools to determine the best course of treatment for both individual patients and entire populations of citizens, represent a few examples of how Health IT can have a significant impact on the health care sector in the future.

Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) countries face challenges similar to those in the United States regarding delivery of health care, such as adequately and efficiently addressing a patient’s health condition, while maximizing cost effectiveness. Given that many TPP countries have health care systems at a relatively early stage of development, U.S. exports of Health IT product and service solutions provide a tremendous opportunity for these countries to quickly deliver improved health care to their citizens. Provisions in the TPP regarding pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and medical supplies, in conjunction with increased deployment of Health IT, will lead to critical improvements in the health care sector among all TPP countries, saving thousands of lives daily.

In addition, TPP will reduce the cost of exporting medical supplies, pharmaceuticals and medical devices; increase competitiveness of U.S. firms; and promote fairness. The agreement will eliminate tariffs, lower service barriers, and increase transparency while also increasing competitiveness by instituting stronger intellectual property rights protection and establishing enforceable labor and environmental obligations. In addition, TPP sets up new high-standard global trade rules, updating 20-year-old WTO rules for the modern economy.

When a level playing field exists, American companies and workers can effectively compete against anyone in the world; therefore, TPP will ensure that the rules of trade and investment are fair. With 646,000 U.S. health product workers in 2014, it is important that the new agreement protects made-in-America products.

Within the agreement, Japan and Malaysia will eliminate import taxes on 100 percent of U.S. health products exports immediately. Also, 99.9 percent of U.S. health products exports to TPP markets will enjoy duty-free access immediately.

In summer 2015, ITA released a Health IT market sector report that shows many export market opportunities for the industry. An updated report is scheduled to be released later this year.

TPP partner countries such as Japan, Mexico, and Singapore have great opportunities for U.S. exporters. Check out findings from our Top Markets reports on projected outcomes for the industry.

  • Japan represents an attractive export market for U.S.-made Health IT products and services, primarily for established companies. In fact, Japan ranked as the top country in the Health IT Top Markets Report, with a favorable demographic profile, the third highest GDP level globally, a largely urbanized population, a tech-friendly society, and sizable current market, coupled with significant ICT and health care investments already in place.
  • Mexico represents an important medium-sized Health IT market opportunity for U.S. companies, as evidenced by the strong trading relationship between the two countries. Several factors contribute to this opportunity, including Mexico’s recognition of the quality of U.S. products and services, the absence of regulations inhibiting innovation and expansion, and the ongoing investment in Mexico’s health care system. Several recent trade missions organized by ITA have demonstrated Mexico’s interest in U.S. products and services. In fact, the Mexican Health IT market is currently estimated at more than $200 million!Though the country’s Health IT market is not as large as other countries, it is one with significant potential for U.S. small- and medium-sized companies. More specifically, TPP addresses trade barriers that pose disproportionate challenges to our small- and medium-sized businesses such as high foreign taxes, overly complex trade paperwork, customs red tape, restrictions on Internet data flows, and weak logistics services. These challenges severely harm the ability of small- and medium-sized businesses to create American jobs.
  • Singapore represents a significant market opportunity for U.S. Health IT companies. Opportunities exist for U.S. companies in this sector, particularly for care coordination for private insurers and physicians, and possible deployment of new mobile applications. Using ITA’s Health IT market report’s methodology, the reasonably high-level of mobile phone subscriptions, strong score on physician density, and its highly urban population, are noteworthy market characteristics.

If you are interested in learning more about this growing industry, contact Matthew Hein (Matthew.Hein@trade.gov), Health IT industry analyst at ITA, or reach out to one of ITA’s local offices.

Note: Matt Hein will attend the largest Health IT trade show next month (Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society conference and exhibition, February 29-March 4 in Las Vegas). He’d love to meet you at the event and discuss your company’s exporting goals.

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