Medical tourism (also called health tourism or global healthcare) refers to the rapidly-growing practice of travelling across international borders to seek healthcare services. Services typically sought by travellers include elective procedures as well as complex surgeries, etc.
Medical tourism has become a thriving industry in the recent past. Tourists from around the world cross borders in search of the right kind of medical treatment. The global medical tourism market is estimated to be around $45.5 billion to $72 billion. Leading destinations within the medical tourism market include Malaysia, India, Singapore, Thailand, Turkey, and the United States. These countries offer a range of medical services that include dental care, cosmetic surgery, elective surgery and fertility treatment.
India is now being put up on the international map as a heaven for those seeking quality and affordable healthcare. India is a recognized place for treatment cum leisure. The Indian hospitality and healthcare facilities together are responsible for increasing the rate of increase in Medical Tourism in India. While there are many factors which are responsible for the growth of Medical Tourism in India, below are some major reasons why India is becoming is the hub for medical tourism.
With the cost of medical treatment in the developed Western world remaining high, the Indian medical tourism sector has an edge because of cost-effective medical care. Studies have shown that healthcare in India saves 65-90 per cent money compared to similar service in the Western countries.
Indian doctors are recognised as among the best at the international level. Medical technology, equipments, facilities and infrastructure in India are at par with international standards. With more than 28 JCI accredited hospitals, India provides treatment of high quality using the latest technology and technique.
In developed countries like US, UK and Canada patients have to wait for major surgeries. India has no waiting time or very less waiting time for surgeries.
Despite linguistic diversity in India, English is considered as an official language. Due to which communication becomes easy with foreign patients as it is an international language.
Government of India, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the Ministry of Tourist are working hard to make India a more prominent medical destination. For this purpose, medical visa (M-visa) has been introduced, which allows a medical tourist to be in India for a specific period. Apart from this, visa on arrival is granted for citizens from few countries, which allows them to stay in India for 30 days.
Traditional Indian health practices such as Ayurveda, yoga, Unani, Siddha and homeopathy also attract a number of medical tourists.
India has a number of hospitals, a large pool of doctors, nurses & supporting staff with required specialization and expertise. The most popular treatments sought in India by medical tourists are alternative medicine, bone-marrow transplant, cardiac bypass surgery, eye surgery and orthopaedic surgery.
India, with its ancient and modern heritage, diversities of culture and exotic destinations is always an attraction to international travellers. Medical travel offers a mix of pleasure, luxury and quality healthcare for medical patients coming to India.
This traditional knowledge of health care, along with India’s reputation in modern, Western approaches, is fuelling the country’s rise in medical tourism. At present, the Indian medical tourism market is valued at $ 7 -8 billion. Besides the healthcare facilities, coming to India allows tourists to visit exotic destinations located nearby. People get to go see parts of the world and attractions that they may otherwise never get a chance to visit. Great sightseeing and opportunities to go see parts of the world and experience cultures that you may never otherwise experience can enhance the benefits of medical tourism. Many people relish and jump on the opportunity to learn more about how people live in the other parts of the world, and this can sometimes be the best part of a medical tourist trip.
India is on the right path to becoming a destination of choice for medical tourism. India today, is rightly called ‘the pharmacy to the world’. In order to achieve the stated vision of being ‘the provider to the world’ by delivering quality care at affordable cost, integrated effort by all key stakeholders including the government, health & tourism industry, service providers, facilitators and regulators is the need of the hour.