June 2017

Medical Tourism Making India Global Wellness Hub

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India’s low cost, skilled medical personnel and world-class hospital network serve as a driving force for medical tourism. The other advantage for India in this space includes the high degree of medical specialisation in the country, observes Elets News Network (ENN).

Medical tourism, which is pegged at roughly 25 per cent year-on-year growth, has immense scope in India owing to availability of world-class doctors, excellent medical facilities and a bouquet of medical services that covers the whole gamut of modern medicine as well as traditional forms of medicine and yoga.

“As healthcare turns costlier in developed countries, India’s medical tourism market is expected to more than double in size from $3 billion at present to around $8 billion by 2020. The industry grew at a CAGR of 15 per cent during 2010-15. Cost is a major driver for nearly 80 per cent of medical tourists across the globe,” said Swadeep Srivastava, Managing Partner, India Virtual Hospital. India’s low cost, skilled medical personnel and world-class hospital network serve as a driving force for medical tourism. The other advantage for India in this space includes the high degree of medical specialisation in the country.

Another trend that’s fast evolving in India, which can be called as a ‘byproduct’ of medical tourism is that many hospitals are starting their operations in African countries. While low-cost offered by the Indian healthcare sector could be one major factor making medical travellers from developed countries choose India as their destination to avail quality services, non-availability of quality healthcare in many African, South Asian and Middle Eastern countries is opening up a new opportunity for Indian healthcare providers to set up their bases in those countries.

For private healthcare providers there are opportunities for building hospitals, labs, for training medical workers in partnership with the country they want to operate in.

The domestic medical travellers market – patients travelling from smaller cities to metro cities like Delhi for tertiary care treatment – is growing at a healthy pace. “Our research shows that about 25% of beds are occupied in most hospitals of Delhi by domestic medical travellers,” Srivastava said.

However, there are still many issues that need to be resolved to help accelerate the growth of medical tourism. Lack of ethics and transparency is one major issue that should be resolved by the Indian authorities. Foreigners getting mislead by touts should be looked into seriuously.

Besides, creation of a positive healthcare experience; infrastructure issues such as transportation and law and regulatory hurdles be removed; Integrated infrastructure for facilitation and ensuring seamless movement of patients from their arrivals to hospitals to their departure also need to be addressed by the industry by taking the government on board.

If we need to meet both domestic and international demand in the healthcare sector, the government and the medical fraternity need to pool together resources to build excellent hospitals and medical schools across the country. It is also necessary to build technological prowess and a software interface for health services. Building health cities in India is also a good opportunity to attract foreign medical travellers to the country.

The five pillars of clinical excellence in the healthcare sector should include service excellence, preventive healthcare, accessibility to finance and quality assurance.By implementing these five pillars, India has the potential to become a global hub for medical tourism.

India maintains not only a robust accreditation system but also a large number of accredited facilities. With government policies geared towards ensuring the quality and affordability go hand-in-hand, the golden age for medical tourism in India could just be beginning.

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