What Makes India a preferred medical tourism destination - Medx Health Assistance

What Makes India a preferred medical tourism destination

When planning a visit to India for the purpose of medical treatment, it is a wise step to first understand why India is considered a preferred medical tourism destination. Understading this will enable a traveller to take benefit of unique advantages that India offers as a medical tourism destination.


Medical Tourism – Preview

Medical Tourism or Medical Value Travel is a term used to define the process when people travel to another country for the purpose of medical treatment. Some of the well-known reasons why people travel to countries other than their home country for medical treatment are:

          High cost of treatment in their own country

          Long waiting time for surgeries

          Less developed medical infrastructure in their own country

          Some treatments are illegal in their country but legal in the destination country e.g. Surrogacy, IVF, Sex change surgeries, organ transplants, etc.

          Rehabilitation and rejuvenation purposes

Some of the renowned medical tourism destinations of the world are Canada, Singapore, Thailand, India, Japan, Spain, United Kingdom, Dubai, Costa Rica, Israel, Germany, South Africa, and Jordan. The selection of medical destination for a person is based on various factors including cost of treatment, Expertise of doctors, flight connectivity, culture, language, food, and socio-political condition of the destination country.


India as a medical tourism destination

India’s medical tourism industry was supposed to be contributing revenue of approximately 5-6 billion US Dollars in 2020. This was in sync with the progressive growth of medical travelers that the country has observed in the last 10 years. In 2013, approximately 3.5 million patients traveled from various countries to India for medical treatment. This number grew to approximately 5 million international medical travelers in 2017. It was forecasted that India would have served more than 8 million international travelers by 2020 with an estimated worth of 5-6 billion US Dollars.

As per the Medical Tourism Association of World, India stands at top of the most preferred medical destinations of the world. Some of the reasons which make India as a place of choice for medical treatment in the world are:

          India has so far proven its ability in all the modalities of medical treatments viz Modern Medicine, Ayurveda, Unani Medicine, Wellness, and Rehabilitation.

          Number of trained doctors, nurses, paramedics, and healthcare infrastructure is so high in India that there is no waiting time for patients seeking medical treatment.

          India has evolved and equipped itself with the best of the medical infrastructure and technologies. India possesses the best of the specialists, equipment, and infrastructure as available in any other first world countries.

          One of the biggest reasons for India’s increasing popularity as a medical destination is the Low Cost of treatment as compared to any other preferred destinations. For instance, surgeries like Liver Transplant are done at approximately 300,000 US Dollars in the USA, which can be availed in India at approximately 35,000 US Dollars only.

          Ease of travel in consideration to the connectivity of International Flights and ease of obtaining Medical Visa.

          Cultural diversity and tourism-friendly laws


The government of India promotes Medical Tourism

In the last 5-6 years, the Government of India has been actively helping Private Hospitals and Medical Facilitation companies for the promotion of India as a Medical Tourism destination. There are various statutory bodies which help in controlling the quality of patient care to International travelers. Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), Ministry of Tourism, and Ministry of Commerce & Industries are some of the key governing bodies concerned with Medical Tourism. The Government organizations are supported by various bodies like the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII), Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), Foundation of Healthcare and Wellness Promotion (FHWP), Indian Healthcare Federation (IHF), etc.

The steps taken by the Ministry of Tourism to promote India as a Medical and Health Tourism Destination includes promotion at international platforms such as World Travel Mart London, ITB Berlin, ATM, etc. Yoga/Ayurveda/Wellness has been promoted in the past years in the print, electronic, internet, and outdoor media under the Ministry of Tourism’s “Incredible India Campaign”.

The Ministry of Tourism Govt. of India has started some schemes for the promotion and development of medical tourism like MVISA, MXVISA, MDA Schemes, and Wellness Tourism promotion schemes.

The Process of Medical Visa and Medical Attendant Visa procurement from consulates and embassies of India in other countries is made convenient by the Ministry of External Affairs. The duration of stay in India for Medical Visa holders has been increased up to 1 year for some nations.


Contribution of Private and Corporate Hospitals for Medical Tourism

The key medical tourism destinations of India are Delhi, Gurugram, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Kerala, and Hyderabad. Almost 90% of Indian medical tourism is handled by private hospitals in these states. The corporate hospitals in these states played a vital role in ensuring the satisfaction of international medical travelers, leading to a phenomenal increase in the number of medical travelers.

There are more than 36 hospitals which are JCI accredited and more than 350 NABH accredited hospitals in India. This presents that quality standards of Indian hospitals are at par with any of the first world countries.

There are many exemplary services provided by hospitals exclusively to their international guests like dedicated international travelers waiting lounge, dedicated patient care team, separate billing cues, priority appointments with doctors, translation services in the hospital, forex handling, native food, etc.

Indian hospitals are also actively involved in medical academics for international doctors. There are thousands of Doctors, Nurses, and Paramedics who get trained by Indian hospitals every year.

The international outreach program of many of these hospitals has enabled the availability of Indian doctors in various countries for conducting medical camps, teleconsultations, academic conferences, and patient awareness programs.


Medical Facilitation companies – Key Contributor

One of the key factors for growing medical tourism in India is the evolution of Medical Facilitation companies. These companies may be known as Medical Tourism companies Or Medical Value Travel Companies Or Medical facilitation companies. The Medical Facilitation companies deal dedicatedly into providing all the ancillary services to a patient and its attendant during their stay in India. The services provided by a good medical facilitation company will include the following:

          Helping patients in taking opinions from expert doctors of India before they even travel to India. Patients share their medical reports with facilitation companies, which are consulted by 2-3 Indian doctors and a definitive treatment plan is made for the patient.

          Assisting patients and their attendants in obtaining a medical visa for India.

          Arranging airport pick-up and drop for the patient. If there is a need for ambulance transfers, it is a liaison between medical facilitation companies and hospitals.

          Blocking the accommodation and food arrangements for travelers.

          Fixing the appointment with doctors to minimize the waiting time to the lowest possible.

          Providing translation services to international patients

          Ancillary supports like telephone sim arrangement, forex assistance, local shopping and tours, second opinions, transports, etc.

The medical facilitation companies have become so organized in the last 5-6 years that medical travelers prefer being coordinated by these companies rather than walking directly into hospitals. The patient care services of medical facilitation companies are regularly monitored by the competent authorities like NABH, FICCI and FHWP. The satisfaction index of international travellers has gone higher in last 5 years due to involvement of facilitation companies.

It was initially perceived by some patients that involvement of a medical facilitation company may add up to their expenses of travelling to India. But contrary to the belief, international patients save 20-30% of their medical cost and accommodation expenses, if handled by an experienced medical facilitation company.

Owing to the factors mentioned above, India has successfuly positioned itself as a preferred medical tourism destination. The ever increasing standards of medical care in India will only ensure phenomenon growth in this sector in the coming years. Hence it is strongly advised to choose India as a medical treatment destination for international travelers and make the best out of it.

Written by: Pankaj Kumar

About the author: Pankaj is a pharmacy graduate from Kurukshetra University Haryana. He has an extensive experience of working in the Indian healthcare and patient services sector.

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