India is recognised as one of the fastest-growing hubs for medical tourism in South-East Asia, holding almost 18% of the global medical tourism market. Government studies (conducted in 2017) show that a total of 495,056 foreigners visited India seeking medical treatment, the majority of which include neighboring countries like Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
A brief look into India’s medical tourism industry
- The Indian healthcare industry is likely to account for 20% of the global market share for medical tourism by the end of 2020.
- On average, individuals stand to save from 40% to 90% during their visit, depending on the country of origin.
- Studies conducted in 2017 showed that the largest number of treatment seekers were from Bangladesh, followed by Afghanistan, Iraq, Oman, Maldives, Uzbekistan, Nigeria, Yemen, Kenya, Tanzania, and other countries.
Medical tourism in India is likely to grow to an $8 billion industry by the end of 2020, increasing by almost 200% from its current market cap. Experts cite India’s affordable healthcare services and the presence of a large pool of skilled professionals behind the primary drivers of this growth.
India’s stride in medical tourism
There are more than 500 different healthcare providers across India, certified by NABH, offering quality healthcare utilizing at-par technology, equipment, and staff.
Another reason for the growth of medical tourism in India is the fact that India is one of the largest English-speaking nations, which ensures a minimum communication gap for foreigners and service providers. Newly graduate doctors can also start own medical practice by acquiring funds as a credit, which helps increase the overall pool of healthcare providers by a significant margin.
There are also several other reasons for the growth of medical tourism in India; let’s take a look.
Individuals travelling to India for treatment expect to save at least 50% when compared to treatment seekers visiting the United States or Great Britain. It is also true when additional expenses, like airfare, travel, lodging, and other costs related to one’s stay is calculated. Even newer taxes like GST’s effect on healthcare services stay at a minimum, which helps keep the overall cost well within budget.
Moreover, despite the cheaper price tag, patients do not necessarily have to compromise with the quality of service, which is the main reason why a significant number of treatment seekers visit India every year as medical tourists.
Quality of service
Despite being a developing nation, India’s private medical industry offers near to global quality, premium services to patients. A large pool of skilled doctors and experienced healthcare professionals ensure the best treatment, while more personal touch like 24/7 access to hospital facilities, online services like Mhealth also allows patients to seek treatment as they require. Professionals can also avail of a loan for doctors to better equip their clinic or purchase the latest equipment.
The Indian healthcare industry also promotes post-treatment recovery. India boasts as the originator of some of the most proven methods of alternative medicines, and medical tourists often seek holistic, natural treatments, like Ayurveda, Naturopathy, Yoga, etc. after a medical procedure. Many healthcare facilities in India offer customised treatment sessions following such alternative techniques, attracting thousands of individuals every year, primarily from western countries.
Easy availability of medical visa
India recently revisited her visa policies, ensuring medical visas are offered to treatment seekers against minimum hassle. This has played a key role in the development of medical tourism in India as patients know they will be able to benefit from immediate medical attention during life-threatening ailments.
Usually, individuals hailing from underdeveloped countries like Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, etc. face the toughest hurdles while securing medical visas. The recent visa expedition program ensures faster and streamlined application and disbursement of medical visas, promoting the inflow of treatment seekers. Consequently, developing countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Nigeria, Ghana, Yemen, etc. contribute to the largest number of healthcare seekers to the Indian medical tourism industry.
Minimum delay between procedures
Another reason behind the growth of medical tourism in India is the almost non-existing delay between procedures and waiting time. Patients can seek immediate medical attention, which helps avoid further complications and health problems. Even conditions requiring extensive medical attention are approached and handled on a reasonably urgent basis.
An updated doctor’s guidelines on medical tourism, a service-centric approach, and adequate medical facilities across the nation help keep the time taken for treatment to a minimum.
Medical care providers also have access to several forms of credits, which help build the necessary infrastructure to provide at-par healthcare services. Select financial institutions offer loans for doctors.
The current growth trajectory of medical tourism in India is likely to put her in one of the leading places in the world. With a substantial pool of well-trained professionals, minimum cost, and highest quality of services, medical tourism is likely to become of the largest parts of India’s healthcare industry in recent years.