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Medical Tourism In India – An Insight

In today’s changing and challenging health sector environment health industry need to be continuously oriented towards learning and implementing new ideas like medical tourism. They need to keep abreast of the time and to inform themselves of the needs of tomorrow and the next decade. Medical tourism is not a new concept but we have understood the importance of this concept now that’s why medical tourism is booming. India offers World Class Medical Facilities, comparable with any of the western countries. India has state of the art Hospitals and the best qualified doctors. With the best infrastructure, the best possible Medical facilities, accompanied with the most competitive prices, a patient can get the treatment done in India at the lowest charges and along with that we will show Indian tourist and pilgrim destinations, as and when advised by the Doctors. This would save a lot of money and he will get to discover India at the same time. We can provide the best medical and travel facilities during for a patient in India.

However, the hospitals are seriously considering practices to attract more number of patients. Some hospitals are pursuing the franchise model, wherein they collaborate with clinics and nursing homes to develop brand values and run the hospital on franchisee basis. The strategies behind model are sharing of technology, expertise and revenues. Many healthcare service providers have established a separate to cater to the requirements of international traveler’s single window assistance. The range of services provided start from provision of preliminary information to the travel related arrangements.

Many players are in expansion mode, both in India and abroad. In addition to setting up of new hospitals and establishing a pan-India presence, major players such as MAX India Ltd, Fortis Health care Ltd, Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Ltd, Escorts Heart Institute, SRL Ranbaxy are expanding / planning for expansion of their operations through acquisitions or setting up of facilities abroad. Many hospital chains have agreed to price band for key treatments. Such price-banding help establishes transparency and increases the image of Indian players in international market.

Origin of Medical Tourism

Medical tourism is actually thousands of years old. In ancient Greece, pilgrims and patients came from all over the Mediterranean to the sanctuary of the healing god, Asklepios, at Epidaurus. For the same cause our Indian system of medicine like Ayurveda and Unani system of medicine were very famous and peoples from different countries used to come for their treatment and healings. In Roman Britain, patients took the waters at a shrine at Bath, a practice that continued for 2,000years. From the 18th century wealthy Europeans traveled to spas from Germany to the Nile. At first, mere traveling was considered to be a good therapy for mental and physical well being. In the 21st century, relatively low-cost jet travel has taken the industry beyond the wealthy and desperate. Later, mostly wealthy people began traveling to tourist destinations like the Swiss lakes, the Alps and special tuberculosis sanatoriums, where professional and often specialized medical care was offered.

In this century, however, medical tourism expanded to a much larger scale. Thailand, followed by India, Puerto-Rico, Argentina, Cuba and others quickly became the most popular destinations for medical tourists. Complicated surgeries and dental works, kidney dialysis, organ transplantation and sex changes, topped the list of the most popular procedures. People from many advanced countries, including the United Sates and Europe, see a benefit in traveling to developing third world countries, like India, Thailand, Philippines, South Africa, and etc. while combining medical treatments with inexpensive vacation. This trend is now known as medical tourism. Medical tourism has greatly developed overtime and it is likely to further expand more as people find it more and more advantageous.

The wealth of a country is judged, among other things, by the health of its citizens. Worldwide, countries are seeking to provide viable healthcare solutions to its population. Improvement in healthcare in a society means more than the availability of doctors or hospitals or medicines. In this perspective, Indian traditional healthcare systems such as Ayurveda and Yoga, as also the concept of spiritual healings are popular amongst both domestic and international tourists. It is generally considered that a person who travels from one region (or a country) to another for the purpose of undertaking treatment is a healthcare tourist. However, this definition excludes people who travel to another region (or a country) to explore, enjoy and rejuvenate either the body or the mind, or both, without undergoing medical treatment.

Concept of Medical Tourism

Given equation holds the concept of medical tourism that is true.

Medical Tourism in India = World Class Treatment + Holiday + Big Savings

Research has shown that recovery in a new and stimulating environment is much faster than if you were to stay in Hospital or at home.

Medical tourism generally defined as the provision of cost effective private medical care in collaboration with the tourism industry for patients needing surgical and other forms of specialized treatment. The concept of medical tourism is gaining significance for India with both Indian and foreign insurance companies looking at India as a prospective healthcare destination, with corporate hospitals which can compete globally. Realizing the potential, hospitals have now started tying up with facilitating agencies like tour operators and have taken to marketing and advertising their services in the form of treatment packages for foreign patients to give a fillip to the health tourism sector.

Experts feel that Indian healthcare institutions should tie-up with multinational insurance companies to offer healthcare services to patients from abroad in order to improve medical tourism. They advocate accreditation of healthcare institutions by a foreign agency, marketing and advertising of healthcare institutes, the facilities and treatment packages they offer to the patient from abroad, as some of the components that need to be given a serious thought, if medical tourism has to really take off in a big way.

With a view to facilitating the medical tourism industry to achieve the targets and to give greater momentum for its growth, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare together with the Ministry of Tourism of the Government of India has set up a Task Force. The Task Force will evaluate the opportunities in the industry and formulate a policy for accrediting healthcare institutions in the country. The accreditation programme is aimed at classifying health service providers on the basis of infrastructure and quality of services offered. It is expected to standardize procedures and facilitate foreign patients in selecting the best hospitals.

India is unique as it offers holistic healthcare addressing the mind, body and spirit. With yoga, meditation, ayurveda, allopathy and other Indian systems of medicine, India offers a vast array of services combined with the cultural warmth that is difficult to match by other countries. Also, clinical outcomes in India are on par with the world’s best centers, besides having internationally qualified and experienced specialists. Visitors, especially from the West and Middle East find Indian hospitals a very affordable and viable option to grappling with insurance and national medical systems in their native lands. There are thousands of expatriates without any social security and health insurance cover who usually compare the costs before going for treatment and India has a cost advantage for this segment.

Although, the existing market for medical tourism in India is small, it can grow rapidly if the industry reorients itself to lure foreign patients from all potential regions such as SAARC, Central Asia, Middle East, Africa, Europe, OECD besides the UK and the US. The annual health bill of people from Afro-Asian countries seeking treatment outside their countries is USD 10 billion. If India can even tap a fraction of that market, the potential is enormous. The price advantage is however offset today for patients from the developed countries by concerns regarding standards, insurance coverage and other infrastructure.

According to a CII-Mc Kinsey study, medical tourism in India could become a USD 1 billion business by 2012. Instead of adopting a segmental approach of targeting a few states such as Maharashtra, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Chennai, efforts are now being made to project “Destination India” as a complete brand ideal for medical tourists. Countries from where people head for India are the UK, Bangladesh, Oman, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Mauritius, Nigeria, Kenya, Pakistan, etc.

Indian Medical Tourism is Booming

With number of medical tourists growing at the rate of 15% annually (Oxford Analytical), India is currently a hot medical tourism hub. State of the art equipment, technological advances, qualified medical, personalized patient care and a blend of modern and traditional medicine has put India on the global medical tourism map, with established edge in surgical treatments, India is poised to play an important role in one of the world’s fastest growing industry of ‘medical tourism’.

Attractions of Indian medical tourism

At present there are some points those make India as an attractive medical tourism destination.

– World Class Treatment & Fraction of comparative cost in western countries.
– Patients from more than 55 countries treated in India.
– Medical Technology, Equipments. Facilities & Infrastructure in India at par with International Standards.
– The Indian doctors are recognized as amongst the best at International levels.
– Practically no waiting time for Taking Medical Treatment.
– India rated among the top 5 favorite tourism destinations worldwide.
– The procedures in countries like India are usually far less expensive – in certain cases, as less as15% of the cost for the same treatment abroad. The medical professionals in these facilities are some of the most well-trained and experienced surgeons in their fields.
– The standards of hospitality at hospitals in Countries like India and certain other far and middle-Eastern countries are far higher than in America or Europe.
– Research has shown that recovery in a new and stimulating environment is much faster than if you were to stay in hospital or at home.
– All doctors and medical staff speak fluent English, as does most of the population.

World Class Medical treatment in all specialties

Indian medical tourism industry providing World Class Medical treatment in all specialties. Major Key player in this field are MAX India Ltd, Fortis Health care Ltd, Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Ltd, Escorts Heart Institute, SRL Ranbaxy and Wockhardtare expanding and they are running very well and providing the facilities accordingly which includes:

* Cosmetic Treatments
* Dental Treatments
* ENT Treatments
* Eye Treatments
* Gastroenterology
* Cardiology
* Neurology
* Nephrology
* Gynecology & IVF
* Kidney Transplant
* Minimally Invasive Surgery
* Orthopedics & Joint Replacement
* Surgical Gastroenterology
* Urology

India has one of the best qualified professionals in each and every field, and this fact has now been realized the world over. Regarding Medical Facilities India has the most competent doctors and world class Medical Facilities. With most competitive charges for treatment, India is a very lucrative destination for people wanting to undergo treatment of certain medical problems who do not need immediate emergency treatment. India offers World Class Medical Facilities, comparable with any of the western countries.

A study estimates that India has the potential to attract 1 billion medical tourists a year. (IndiQuest Research Report, 2007). Further, as per the study by McKinsey and the Confederation of Indian Industry, medical tourism in India is expected to become a Rs.100 billion ($2.2b) business by 2012(CBC News, 2004). The Indian government predicts that India’s $17-billion-a-year health-care industry could grow 13 per cent in each of the next six years, boosted by medical tourism, which industry watchers say is growing at 30 per cent annually(indiamedicaltourism.net).India may be fast emerging as one of the most sought-after destinations for medical tourists in west, but Mr. Prime Minister, Man Mohan Singh, wants quality and affordable treatment for his countrymen first. He emphasized on the need to seriously consider the pubic-private alliance in high-level healthcare facilities, particularly in view of resource restraints in India. He accepted the truth that a large majority of Indians is still not able to afford good medical treatment.

Medical Tourism is also for the people who either do not have Medical Insurance, NHS, etc or these are not enough to cover the Treatment they need. Another category of the people opting for Medical Treatment in India are those who need to take a medical treatment and also wish to take that holiday, so they combine their Treatment & Holiday Together and still save big. They combine this with avocation in the country they are visiting. National Geographic Traveler describes- India as “Land of Mystery & Majesty” Forbes says – “India is one of the world’s fastest growing travel markets”. The most important unique selling points of India include the variety and beauty of India’s mountain ranges, colorful deserts, green rain forests, virgin beaches and holiest rivers besides its history, culture, religion and people. Besides India has an architectural wonder like the Taj Mahal, The Golden Temple, Khajuraho Temples, The Sun Temple, Trimurti and many more.

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