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Nature of Medical Tourism in India

Medical tourism is a fast-growing trend of travelling over international borders to access health care services. It consists of availing of bio-medical procedures, mixed with tourism and travel.

The term medical tourism has been coined by the mass media and travel agencies for describing the practice of travelling to foreign countries to access hi-tech and often cost effective medical care. Medical tourism is a rapidly booming multi billion dollar industry worldwide.

india-health-tourism

Medical tourism is the combination of two of the world’s biggest industries: health care and tourism. India attracts many foreigners for its medical tourism sector.

India health tourism is a booming sector thanks to its natural advantages. The crucial advantages of medical tourism in India are- low cost of medical care, world class doctors and hospitals and diversity of tourist spots.

Here are a few features of medical tourism in India:

  • Medical tourism services include elective procedures and specialized complex surgeries like cardiac surgery, joint replacement, cosmetic surgery, kidney dialysis, organ transplantation and dental surgery.
  • India is famous for its traditional and alternative systems of medicine like Ayurveda, Unani, Naturopathy, and many travel to India to make use of these services.
  • Originally, the trend of medical tourism was of wealthy Indians travelling to developed countries like US and UK to avail of hi-tech medical care. This trend has reversed with UK and US nationals among others arriving in India as medical tourists to avail of the world class but cheap medical care available in Indian hospitals.
  • The medical tourism industry in India is projected to grow to $7 to $8 billion by 2020.
  • The main reason for popularity of medical tourism in India is the low cost of care with high standards of quality. Typically, medical procedures in India cost one-tenth of that charged in US and UK.
  • Traditionally, bulk of medical tourist to India was from UK and the US. The trend is changing. In 2015, Afghans and Bangladeshis accounted for 34% of medical tourists to India. Russia and CIS countries accounted for 30% share. Also, there was influx of medical tourist from Middle East (Persian Gulf) and Africa. In 2015, India became top location for medical tourists from Russia.
  • Among locations, Chennai, Kolkata, Jalandhar, Hyderabad, Mumbai and NCR (Delhi) became the most popular destinations for medical tourist arriving in India.
  • Quality of medical care in India is very high. India has 28 hospitals accredited to the international JCI standards.Medical tourism hospitals in India are on the rise.
  • City of Chennai is identified as the health capital of India. Over 150 foreigners seeking medical care arrive every day at the premises of specialty and super specialty hospitals in the city. Advantages of Chennai are low cost of treatment, high quality of care, many hospital beds and no waiting period. Even dental clinics in the city are popular.
  • The government of India has woken up to the scope of medical tourism and is engaged in actively encouraging it. For instance, it has eased visa restrictions on foreigners seeking medical care in the country.
  • To help foreign patients feel at home, many hospitals have appointed foreign language specialists like expert sin Balkan and African languages.
  • Indian health care sector will be worth US $280 billion by 2020. It has emerged as the biggest and most expanding service sector of the economy.
  • Medical tourism is rising thanks to the demographics of developed nations. This is the rise in numbers of doctors retiring and increase in aged citizens in these countries. Health care crisis caused by these trends has driven the people to seek cost effective, high quality care in developing nations like India.

These are some of the features of medical tourism in India, today.

About Atul Chaudhary

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