Medical Tourism in India Medical Tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors in Indian economy. Its growth in Indian sub-continent has been enormously high over the last few years. It was estimated at $3 billion in the year 2015 and is expected to reach $9 billion opportunity by the year 2020. Such a surge in the growth is attributed primarily to Indian Government framing such policies which have led to a tremendous increase in Medical Tourism in India.
India-A Leading Place for Medical Tourism
India was ranked at the third place in Asia in respect of Medical Tourism in the year 2015 when the Industry was worth $3 billion. As per Ministry of Tourism(India), the number of patients came to India for Medical treatment were 2,34,000 in 2015, and these figures increased to 4,95,056 in the year 2017. The foreign tourists are primarily coming from Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Maldives, Uzbekistan, Iraq, Sudan and Yemen. Out of these countries, Bangladesh and Afghanistan are at the top with most of the patients are coming from these two countries. There has been a boost in the medical tourists coming from SAARC(South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) region which comprises of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka; in the wake of our honourable Prime Minister’s decision to advance immediate Medical visa to SAARC region at 2014 SAARC Summit.
There are a multitude of factors which have resulted in a rise in foreign tourists availing medical treatments from India. Here are a list of factors as to why India holds one of the leading positions in Medical Tourism:
Low-Cost Medical Treatment
One of the paramount reasons for the multiplicity of International tourists taking healthcare services from India is its Cost effectiveness in various Health treatments, procedures and surgeries.In all the fields of cardiology, orthopaedics, nephrology, oncology and neurosurgery, the cost is reduced to 60-80% in comparison to the Western Countries where the price of any surgery would cost an arm and a leg for an individual.
The cost of a typical Heart surgery in India is around $3500-$4000, in contrast to the same surgery in the US which would cost around $75,000. This difference in pricing is huge and enormous. Thus, owing to affordable health services, the international travellers visit not only from Asian countries, but also from the US and Europe to get medical treatment.
World-class Medical treatment and Technology
India enjoys Best of both Worlds in terms of Medical Tourism as a result of advanced Technology used in medical procedures and diagnostics and Price affordability. Along with price affordability our country also offers Top-of-the-line medical and diagnostic equipment at many Indian hospitals. India also offers Da Vinci Surgical System (Robotic Surgeries) the most advanced platform where surgeons are able to offer a minimally invasive option for complex surgical procedures. In the wake of such advancements in robotic surgeries and transplant support system, India has proved to be one of the best places for Healthcare Solutions.
Our country also has multiple state of the art radiation treatment machines that are capable of IMRT(Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy) and IGRT(Image Guidance), these therapies are used in post-cancer treatment when the surgery has not removed all the cancer cells in a body. Advanced neuro and spinal options are all available in India. Our country also has the latest technology cutting-edge devices along with highly qualified neurosurgeons to perform spine injuries and neuromuscular surgeries. The availability of such Premier technology in India entices foreign tourists for Medical Treatment.
Well-trained Medical Professionals
India has a great deal of well-trained Medical professionals and one of the finest doctors. Apart from world-class hospitals we have a lot of skilled medical professionals, excellent doctors and paramedics which pave the way for Medical Tourism in India. Not only the doctors are competent and capable, they are well-versed with spoken English which makes it easier for the foreign tourists to
understand the procedures and explain their medical history and the further diagnosis. Thus, clearing away the language barrier for the international tourists. Although India is a country of diverse languages, English is an official language here. Moreover, apart from doctors all the medical staff and nurses who will be assigned to the patients will be good at spoken English, thus removing the hurdle of communication.
Traditional Health practices like Yoga and Ayurveda
International Tourists also get attracted to the traditional health practices such as Ayurveda, yoga, Unani, Siddha and homeopathy(called AYUSH). The Ministry of Ayush was formed in the year 2014 to ensure the optimal development and propagation of AYUSH systems of health care in our country. AYUSH is also promoted to enhance Medical Tourism. These traditional health practices are offered by wellness-centers across India and to ensure that they offer quality services, The guidelines for Accreditation of wellness centers have been developed by the National Board for Accreditation of Hospitals & Healthcare Services (NABH) in consultation with AYUSH. Such traditional healthcare treatments are an exclusive feature to Indian Medical tourism.
Visa rules have become liberal
Getting Visas for medical purpose is much easier than ever before. International travellers who want to get medical treatment in reputed and recognized hospitals in India can apply for the Indian Medical e-Visa or Electronic Medical Visa through the online visa application system. Unlike the Tourist e-Visas that is granted for a maximum of 6 months, the medical travellers have the validity of upto 1 year and it allows a maximum of 3 entries during 1 year. Medical attendant visas have also been introduced to ease the travel process of medical tourists. The validity of Medical Attendant Visa will be same as the patient Medical visa. The process has really become simple for medical tourists seekers who wish to take vital treatment in India.
Access to immediate Healthcare Services
Another one of the major advantages Indian Healthcare enjoys is the immediate access to Medical services. The waiting time in many countries for various surgeries is around 3-6 months whereas in India the waiting period is zero be it heart surgery, cancer treatment, neurological surgery, cosmetic surgeries etc. Almost all the major surgeries are done instantly barring organ transplant surgery.
Large Accreditation system
India has one of the largest Accreditation systems and good accredited facilities in Healthcare. What is Accreditation? It is a process of review that allows healthcare organizations to demonstrate their ability to meet regulatory requirements and standards established by a recognized accreditation organization. Accreditation has provided sustainability to Indian healthcare sector in the global scenario that has attracted lots of foreign tourists to Indian land. In India we have National Accreditation Board for Hospitals and Healthcare providers (NABH) which is the leading accreditation body in India. Joint Commission International (JCI) is a US based non-profit that accredits healthcare organizations and programs around the world. The JCI accreditation is considered as the golden standard among all the health-care accreditation programs available across the world.
Till March 2017, 491 Private hospitals get NABH accreditation. As of October 14th 2019, there are 34 JCI accredited hospitals in India which is as per International Standards and a really good number.
Our country has accomplished a lot of milestones in Medical Tourism and still a long way to go, the above attributes mark a significant place for India in respect of Medical Tourism in the Global scenario. The day is not far when our country would achieve the pinnacle in Medical Tourism and conquer other countries in the world. All the features starting from Government’s policies in support of Medical Tourism to our competent and skilled doctors together with high-end
technology in Healthcare, minimal waiting period for surgeries and treatments, our ancient healthcare practices like Ayurveda and Yoga, all of them are unanimously responsible for the rise in Medical tourism in India.