Medical tourism (also called medical travel, health tourism or global healthcare) is a term used to describe the rapidly-growing practice of travelling across international borders to seek healthcare services. Services typically sought by travelers include elective procedures as well as complex surgeries, etc.
Growth of Medical Tourism:
Factors advantageous for growth of Indian Medical Tourism:
Facilties: India offers best in class medical health facilities duly accredited to NABH or JCI.
Frontier Technology: India offers cutting edge technology to support medical diagnostics and medical procedures.Complicated heart surgeries, cancer care and surgeries, neuro and even general surgeries require high-end technology to continually better outcomes, minimize complications, enable faster recovery and reduce length of hospital stay. The recent advancements in robotic surgeries, radiation surgery or radio therapies with cyberknife stereotactic options, IMRT / IGRT, transplant support systems, advanced neuro and spinal options are all available in India.
Doctors: The country has the largest pool of doctors and paramedics in South Asia (1.2 million Allopathic doctors. 0.17 million dental surgeons, 2 million nurses). Many of them have established their credentials as leaders around the world.
Financial Saving: Quality of care is what attracts people. However, quality services should not be beyond the affordability of the patient who requires it. If quality comes at an affordable cost it is an unbeatable advantage. This confluence of highest quality and cost advantage is unique for India. The benefit is unimaginable when it comes to major treatments such as for leukemia where the difference in cost is 10 to 20 times. If we see the below graph, we will observe that the cost is least in India as compared to other countries promoting medical tourism.
Zero Waiting Time: It’s zero waiting time in India for any procedure, be it heart surgery, kidney care, cancer treatment, neuro-spinal procedure, knee/hip/joint replacements, dental, cosmetic surgeries, weight loss surgery etc.
Language : Among the top medical destinations of the world, India has the highest percentage of English language speaking people. If other language options are essential, there are expert interpreters who will be arranged by the hospitals. All leading to reassuring hospitality and great after care.
Steps taken by Ministry of Tourism to promote India as a Medical and Health Tourism Destination:
The Union commerce ministry along with the Ministries of Tourism and Health, has launched a portal, www.indiahealthcaretourism.com, in three languages-Arabic, Russian and French- to provide comprehensive information to medical travellers.
The process to issue medical visas has been made much more efficient, thus reducing the time taken in visa procurement.
The scope of e-tourist visa has been expanded to include short-term medical treatment.
Separate immigration counters and facilitation desks have been set up at major Indian airports to boost the medical travel industry.
The government of India has also been focusing on promoting homestay for medical tourists to being down their cost of stay in India.
With increased government focus and endorsement of AYUSH medicine, the traffic seeking AYUSH medicine and care is expected to increase in coming years.
Benefits of Medical Tourism for India:
Foreign Exchange: Every patient spends around 3500-6000 USD in India which brings important foreign exchange in India.
Goodwill: Medical tourism leads to creation of goodwill for India in foreign nations. This has helped create goodwill about India in African countries and even in Pakistan. This goodwill helps in securing Indian investments abroad and improvement in bilateral relations.
Boosting Economy: States like Andhra Pradesh are boosting their economy due to inflow of large no. of tourists seeking medical help.
Employment Generation: Inflow of patients and money into healthcare system leads to creation of jobs and opportunities which help in solving the unemployment crisis of India.
Promotion of alternative healthcare systems: It helps promotion of healthcare systems of India such as AYUSH.
Start Up India: With many new Start Up's like Practo, Portea, Advancells, Lybrate etc. emerging in the field of health sector, Medical tourism can boost the number of start ups in India.