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July 10, 2023

Healthcare Locator Platforms and Thailand’s Digital Platform Regulation

One of the more positive outcomes of the COVID-19 pandemic is that telemedicine has become remarkably important as an interactive system between patients and healthcare professionals. Thailand, which ranks near the top as a world medical hub, is a highly favored destination in Asia for expat workers. Currently, the Thai market has both Thai-based and foreign-based platforms with information about healthcare providers and telemedicine readily available.

“Doctor Locator,” “Weed Map,” and “Find a Teeth Aligner Dentist” are examples of online platforms connecting patients with medical and telemedicine services. These digital platforms provide information about the location of specialized clinics, cannabis dispensaries, pharmacy stores, and orthodontic practitioners in Thailand. These platforms act as intermediaries between medical care businesses and consumers. As actual medical services are not offered or provided, these digital platforms do not have to be regulated under the Medical Facility Act of Thailand.

However, healthcare digital platform services that act as an intermediary or conduit managing information used to connect medical clinics or cannabis dispensaries with patients or customers via a computer network are now regulated under the soon-to-be-implemented Royal Decree on Digital Platforms, regardless of whether payment is actually made via the platform.

The regulatory authority for this is the Electronic Transactions Development Agency (ETDA). Under this royal decree, digital platform providers that intend to operate a digital platform service must notify the ETDA prior to initiating operations. The extent of the details to be included in the notification to the ETDA will be more comprehensive if the digital platform:

  • has annual revenue (before expenses) for digital platform services within Thailand exceeding THB 1.8 million (approx. USD 51,200) for an individual operator or THB 50 million (approx. USD 1.42 million) for a corporate or entity operator; or
  • has more than 5,000 users (on average) per month.

Apart from these notification requirements, digital platform providers will be subject to other obligations, such as submitting annual reports relating to their digital platform services and having in place mandatory terms and conditions in accordance with the requirements prescribed in the Royal Decree on Digital Platforms. More importantly, the royal decree also has an extraterritorial effect, which means that digital platform providers located outside of Thailand must also comply with the royal decree if they provide digital platform services to users in Thailand. The royal decree comes into effect on August 20, 2023.

Both onshore and offshore healthcare digital platform providers falling under the Royal Decree on Digital Platforms should ensure that they comply with all its requirements, including the appointment of a local coordinator in Thailand who can notify, report, and coordinate with the ETDA. For further information on the new healthcare digital platform provider requirements, please contact Dr. Atthachai Homhuan at [email protected].

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