Center for Development & Entrepreneurship

Work in Progress

Digital Health Entrepreneurship in Vietnam


Vietnam’s economic development over the last three decades has been remarkable. Since 1986, when Vietnam launched economic reforms under Đổi Mới, the country transitioned from one of the poorest countries to a lower middle-income economy. According to the World Bank, poverty rates in Vietnam significantly declined from 70% to less than 6% between 2002 and 2018 (US$3.2/day PPP).9 Within the same period, Vietnam’s GDP per capita grew 270%, reaching $2,700 in 2018.10 Vietnam continues to represent a nation of growth with its young population, strong digital infrastructure, and emerging entrepreneurship ecosystem.

Despite Vietnam’s transition to an emerging economy, the healthcare sector has not witnessed the same progress seen in other sectors. Vietnam continues to face many challenges, including chronic crowding at hospitals and shortages of qualified medical staff amid a rapid increase in non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes and cancer. In examining healthcare challenges and opportunities in Vietnam, one should consider the entire health value chain, including education, engagement, measurement, access, and delivery.

Vietnam is a country of innovators and entrepreneurs, and this should be leveraged to address the country’s healthcare challenges. Most of the startup activity, however, has primarily focused on e-commerce, food tech, and fintech, with little entrepreneurship in healthcare. With the belief that entrepreneurship can play a significant role in the future of healthcare, this research paper aims to better understand the nascent healthcare entrepreneurship ecosystem in Vietnam, and to identify recommendations to further enable the creation and scalability of healthcare startups. Entrepreneurs across the world have started addressing healthcare challenges by employing approaches such as telehealth and health information systems to address gaps in healthcare. Like other nations, Vietnam should also utilize its entrepreneurial ecosystem to address its thorny healthcare challenges.

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