Medical tourism, a concept which came into existence in India, say, with one or two decade back and emerged as one of the most profitable industry today.
Medical tourism, in broader terms is an industry where patients from across the globe travel to other country to get medical or surgical services in much cheaper and better way, while having a vacation time with the family.
India, has a huge medical talent, and provides better medical services in much cheaper costs as compared to other. With general tourism on the rise, it is estimated that the volume of medical tourists worldwide could reach up to 5 million by 2016, attracting additional visitors to the country.
India as preferred medical destination
We are providing people with world class facilities which are as good as America at one-fifth and one-tenth of the cost they pay there. The medical facilities are not just good they are better than other parts of the world.
A liver transplant that costs around Rs 70- 80 lakhs in any European country, and believe me double in US (many reports suggested) , can cost you around Rs 30-40 lakhs in major city like Delhi in India. While, there are hospitals in Hyderabad which do it in around Rs 15 lakh-20lakhs. Similarly, a heart surgery which in the US can cost you around Rs 20 lakhs, can be done in any private hospital at Rs 4-5 lakhs. Further, the best part in getting treatment in India is less waiting time and off course world class healthcare.
Today, there are many online services which are providing all the know-how of getting medical treatment in India. Also, they are helping patients by providing easy paperwork in terms of insurance, arranging accommodation, even planning a vacation for them. In a way, treatment and vacation in a parallel line, so why not India?
As per research reports, aprox, 1,50,000 medical tourists came to India in 2005 and the numbers are expected to increase. Rising healthcare cost and longer waiting time are compelling reasons for patients from the westerns countries to seek treatment overseas. In Canada, around a million citizens experience difficulties due to long waiting time. There are 45 million U.S citizens without health insurance and many more consider the healthcare cost exorbitant (Oxford analytica, 2006)
Types of medical procedures in demand
While there are many medical and surgical services medical tourist look for in India like Cardiology, Nephrology, Oncology and Plastic surgery, majorly they go for cosmetic surgery hip and knee replacements, dental procedures, infertility treatments; any procedure that is usually not covered by insurance or has a long waiting time in their home country.
Country, with maximum patients
Though, we have start witnessing patients from country like UK, US, Singapore, still countries like Afghanistan, Congo, Uzbekistan, Oman, Qatar, Doha, Myanmar, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iraq, Nepal etc have maximum number of patients coming to India.
Today, with the latest technology like Telemedicine, now after first round of treatment, patients don’t need to travel again for further assistance and routine check-ups, they can come on video call or even through sms services enquire about their improving health. Every corporate hospital in the country has their own International departments where they have people who can speak patient’s native languages to make them more comfortable in a foreign land. Additionally, if patient is unsatisfied then they can directly go to their respective embassies and make a complaint there.
Here, are some of the key highlights of this emerging sector in India with experts from Shushmul Maheshwari, CEO, RNCOS – which will soon shape the future of India’s economy and healthcare.
Estimated growth rate: According to RNCOS research and analysis, Indian medical tourism industry is estimated to worth US$ 3.5 Billion. The industry is forecasted to grow at a CAGR of around 20% in next five years.
Some of the factors driving growth in the industry: Low-cost medical surgery treatments such as hip replacements, knee replacements, weight loss procedures, gastric lap band, RNY gastric bypass, heart procedures
- Short waiting time in getting the treatment
- Availability of top class medical expertise
- Quality of care in corporate hospitals as good as any big-city hospital in Europe or America
- Rising number of private health care centres
- Unique traditional healing treatments – AYUSH
- Availability of treatment cum vacation packages
Cities having major attraction from foreign visitors: Tamil Nadu and Kerala have attained huge prominence in the field of medicine. Every year, thousands of tourists across the globe visit the country to explore the serene beauty of these South-Indian states. Kerala’s strengths in ayurvedic medicine and modern medical technology, combined with strong marketing skills have provided the necessary boost to the medical tourism industry of India. Mumbai and Delhi also attracts huge number of medical tourists due to presence of JCI accredited hospitals in these cities.
Factors, deciding the future: Factors such as Government support, improving relationship with neighboring and western countries, promotional activities by public and private players, quality of services, and uptake of modern technology will help in deciding the fate of Indian medical tourism industry.
Nevertheless, India has many factors which can drive foreign tourist more inwards; there are still many things which need to be taken care of. It is expected from the new government to bring more budgets and provide basic infrastructure which can improve basic access to high quality centers. Further, there is a great need to change the visa policy and make them more easier may be with the services like visa-on-arrival. There is also a need to partnership with western providers to raise the quality standards, while bringing a new level of confidence among the foreign patients.
India has several private hospitals that are designed to provide world-class medical care in India. These hospitals utilize some of the best medical equipment that is available world-wide.
As said, Founder and CEO of PlanMyMedicalTrip.com, Anurav Rane, “ In order to improve India’s image as “THE” healthcare destination, we should be looking at improving the quality of services we provide. While there are excellent hospitals throughout India, there is also a concern about quality of service provided by majority of the other hospitals. We want these institutions and the people working for them to work for the welfare of the people rather than being treated as money minting factories. Our experience tells us that, rather than pushing the numbers, if we work on improving the quality of service, no country could dare to catch up with any industry in India, leave aside the Health Care sector”.
BY Ekta Srivastava