Dr Lai obtained his medical qualification in Hong Kong in 1970. He was promoted to Consultant Physician in 1980, Senior Assistant Director in the Medical and Health Department in 1982 and Deputy Director, Hospital Services Department of the Hong Kong Government in 1989.
Dr Lai joined the newly established Hospital Authority (HA) in 1991 and had held various senior positions since. He was appointed Cluster Chief Executive from 2005 to 2009 and was responsible for the overall management of Queen Mary Hospital, a teaching hospital, and 6 public Hospitals and other healthcare institutions in the Hong Kong West Cluster.
Representing HA, Dr Lai has been actively involved in the work of the Asian Hospital Federation (AHF). He was elected AHF President for two terms from 1999 to 2003 and immediate past President from 2003 to 2005. He continued to serve AHF as a member of Board of Governors from 2005 to 2011, and member of the AHF Study Group since 2012. Dr Lai has also been closely associated with IHF since 1999. He was elected IHF Governing Council Member in November 2005 for a six-year term, appointed Special Advisor for the Asia Pacific Region since January 2012 and Honorary Member since November 2015.
Dr Lai has been associated with the Australian Council of Healthcare Standards (ACHS) and been involved in the implementation of the Pilot Scheme of Hospital Accreditation in Hong Kong since 2009. He was bestowed the 40th Anniversary Gold Medal in 2014 by ACHS. He has also been associated with the International Society for Quality (ISQua) and was appointed ISQua expert in 2012.
Dr Lai is currently Honorary Senior Advisor of HA and the Hong Kong University-Shenzhen Hospital, Honorary Professor of the Medical Faculty, University of Hong Kong and Consultant to the Macau Health Bureau.
For his service to Hong Kong and healthcare community, Dr Lai was awarded the Bronze Bauhinia Star by the Hong Kong Government in 2009.