In a report published in 2010, The Confederation of Indian Industry
and Mckinsey predicted the emergence of medical tourism as the next big Indian
success story. This industry, still in the nascent stage, is predicted to grow at
a rate of 30% over the next 5 years and contribute additional revenue of USD
2.3 Billion by 2012. This industry is slated to be the next largest export
grosser after the software industry.
Medical tourism refers to the provision of facilities for a client
to travel, stay and recuperate at a healthcare facility. The medical tourism
industry, therefore, generates income directly for the travel industry,
hospitals and medical staff, and the hospitality industry. Other industries that
indirectly gain from medical tourism are the banking and medical insurance industry
and the allied medical services industry.
India is the destination of choice for complex procedures such as
cardiac surgery, orthopaedic operations, and neurosurgery as well as dental
treatment. India is the preferred medical tourism destination among Americans,
who are not covered by insurance because of the high cost of medical facilities
in the US. The cost of a medical procedure in the US exceeds the cost of travel
to and fro to India, medical and surgery costs and also the cost for the
recuperation in India. The British prefer to be treated in India as their
National Health Service is unable to provide immediate treatment because of the
long waiting list. Countries like Greece, Malaysia and South Africa also
provide similar services. India’s USP in medical tourism is in the rates for
surgical procedures, which are 10 to 15 times lower than elsewhere in the world.
The medical practitioners in India are among the best in the world. Top
surgeons in Indian hospitals have international work experience and are abreast
of the latest medical advances. Indian hospitals match international standards with
regard to medical equipment, nursing care and hygiene standards.
India’s system of traditional medicine are a combination of Ayurveda,
Siddha Yoga and meditation, it aims at curing ills and helping the patient to
lead a healthy, balanced lifestyle. There are a number of health farms and
nature spas in India that attract a number of foreigners looking for help in
bringing about lifestyle changes and detoxification of the body.
The Ministry of Tourism has recognized the scope of medical tourism
and has initiated MDA (Market Development Assistance) Scheme to key players in
the Medical Tourism space. Road shows are organized at regular intervals to promote
India as a Medical Tourism destination.
President Obama in a recent press release has expressed his
opposition to medical tourism and has proposed to make affordable healthcare
available to Americans through the 2010 US health reform law. The doyens of
India’s healthcare industry feel there is very little cause for worry to India
as people travel to India not only considering the costs, but also because of
the assurance of high-quality healthcare that India has to offer.