India - Front Runner in Medical Tourism and the Most Promising Healthcare Destination to Americans

India - Front Runner in Medical Tourism and the Most Promising Healthcare Destination to Americans Image Credits: Freepik

Medical Tourism (MT) is a promising sector that is growing rapidly and is poised to reach around 7-8 billion by 2020 [1]. MT is a practice that pertains to travelling of citizens beyond international borders for procuring medical care. Though, prima facie, treatment sought is through the surgery option, people also travel for dental or fertility reasons. Patients with rare diseases may also undertake MT to countries with better medical facilities. However, the health care services spectrum offered may also include alternative medicine, psychiatry, convalescent care and burial services.

India is currently a healthcare hub that attracts medical tourists, thanks to high quality healthcare service with cost-effectiveness and treatment from accredited facilities on par with developed countries. People come here for either undergoing complex procedures or seeking simple alternative well-being remedies. India has some unique selling propositions (USP) that make it deservingly a top choice for treatments more so for the Americans.

What makes Indian MT lucrative for Americans?

It is estimated that approximately about fifteen million US citizens undertake MT for procuring healthcare service due to high costs in their home country. Ironically, many of them who require surgical procedures, cannot even afford them there due to a variety of reasons with health insurance unemployment, expensive private health plans, stringent health contracts and minimal/no health insurance coverage by their employers. This further enunciates severe health issues and tremendous financial burden on the patients making them seek MT in other destinations.

The 'India' Advantage

Primary Benefits

State of art facilities both in terms of medical expertise, consultancy with leading practitioners, and required infrastructure: India is renowned for its highly skilled man-power strength including physicians, nurses and support personnel. Also, hospitals here are equipped with the super-specialty infrastructure and latest medical/ diagnostic devices that are comparable to their international counterparts and standards for delivering high quality service.

Cost efficiency: This is the biggest USP of Indian medical treatment since the expenditure incurred is approximately 1/6th of that in US including the journey and accommodation fares. Additionally, medicines, clinical diagnosis and pre/post-operative care facility is cheaper here. This is further backed by easy USD exchange rate with INR

English savvy healthcare professionals which makes communication easier for US citizens and makes them feel ‘at home’

Patient friendly Health Policies: The Indian government has set up many initiatives for supporting MT including promotional events across the world, easy import of diagnostic devices and fiscal incentives making this sector completely legal, authentic and patient friendly

Plethora of Alternative Medicine Services including Ayurveda, Naturopathy, Reiki, Acupuncture, Yoga, Unani. The Indian ecosystem offers this health rejuvenation with proved experience of thousands of years for treating both complex ailments and also taking proactive measures for routine healthcare

Additional Benefits

Low cost preventive health follow-ups

Luxurious hospital patient wards / rooms within affordable ranges

Accommodation for patient caretakers

Diversified cultural heritage across various states and union territories

Elite Indian cuisines and entertainment including cinema, music and dance

Relaxation/Health Rejuvenation facilities like Ayurvedic massages and Spa

Attractive tourist destination spots

Provides delightful all – in – one terminus for vacations, festivals, family get-togethers and health check-ups

Most 'sought of' Treatments

Minimal Invasive Procedures and Robotic Surgery

Heart surgery

Knee Replacement Surgery

Lasik eye surgery

Cosmetic surgery

Neurosurgery

Dental care

Fertility Treatment

Some Statistics

Approximately over 3.6 lakh foreign patients visited India for MT in 2016 [2]

Medical tourism market expanded at CAGR of 27 per cent between 2013 and 2016 and is expected to reach 8 billion USD by 2020 [3]

Tremendous specialist experience with completion of over 5,00,000 major surgeries and about a million other surgical procedures including cardio-thoracic, neurological and cancer surgeries [4]

Better success rate of cardiac bypass of 98.7% in India (vs 97.5% in U.S) [4]

Risks Involved

Legal impediments in less likely events of post-operative complications and healthcare malpractices.

Taking additional burden of handling unknown exigencies for certain controversial healthcare offerings like experimental stem cell treatments or assisted suicide which is either unavailable or considered illegal in their home country.

Conclusion

India has always been the centre of attraction for many civilisations and trade routes in the past. Currently, backed by its cost-effective healthcare infrastructure and prudent medical innovations, India is certainly poised to be called The Silicon Valley of the MT sector and more specifically in luring the Americans for providing low cost high-quality healthcare services.

Sources:

1. Indian medical tourism industry to touch $8 billion by 2020: Grant Thornton
2. Medical Tourism: India saw 1.27 lakh more foreign patients in 2016
3. IBEF Healthcare January, 2017
4. Indian healthcare industry presentation

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