Why Medical Tourism is a Successful Industry in India

In simple words, Medical Tourism refers to the process of travelling to another country other than the country of residence to obtain medical care.

How India evolved as the preferred destination for Medical Tourism?

Did you know that a whooping number of medical tourists arrive each year to India for their Medical treatment. In 2016 alone, approximately more than 200,000 tourists arrived on medical visa for their treatment and this number is increasing each year by 40-45%. The medical tourism industry of India in 2015 was estimated at US$3 billion & is projected to grow to $7-8 billion by 2020 [1].

Traditionally the healthcare sector of India struggled to cater to the domestic needs because of the deficit in infrastructure & technical manpower. However, with advent of private hospitals & the evolution of the industry as a whole, quite a large number of private sector hospitals are now equipped with world class infrastructure & capabilities. The role of government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in this trajectory has been monumental.

Here are 4 major reasons people are choosing India for Medical Tourism:

1. Unavailability of Quality Healthcare in Source Countries

Medical Tourism Healthcare Quality Worldwide Quality of Healthcare in different countries
Countries where the spending on public healthcare sector is limited & where the healthcare sector has not evolved as much may not have the infrastructure & capability to meet the healthcare needs of their population. They instead depend heavily on Medical Tourism. Many African, South American & Middle Eastern nations fall under this category.

2. High Affordability & Cost Effectiveness

Medical Tourism Lowest Cost Countries Cost of various procedures in different countries [2]
Medical procedures in developed countries such as U.S., U.K., etc. are very high as compared to India & other Medical Tourism spots. A person coming to India for his/her medical treatment can save anywhere between 30 to 70 per cent even including the cost of ticket expenses & accommodation.

3. Immediate Treatment

Medical Tourism Reason Immediate Treatment Immediate Treatment - Image Credits: Freepik
Many developed countries do not have immediate access to medical procedures & have long waiting lists. In Canada, more than 50% people say it took longer than 4 weeks to see a specialist [3]. Access to immediate medical procedures is what attracts patients from developed countries travel to India.

4. Travel Opportunities

Medical Tourism Reason Travel Opportunity Travel Opportunities - Image Credits: Freepik
While the primary motivation for patients might be access to better quality of healthcare and timely medical aid, the opportunity to visit a new destination is an additional draw for some. Especially for patients seeking dental care, cosmetic care, etc., as they can enjoy exploring the destination while recovering.

Top Source Countries for Medical Visas to India

According to the Indian Tourism Statistics, 2014 by Ministry of Tourism - Government of India, the maximum number of people that came in 2014 on Medical Visas were from Bangladesh followed by Afghanistan & Maldives. Top 10 Source Countries for Medical Visas 2014 Top 10 Source Countries for Medical Visas 2014 [4]
The major reason so many people are travelling to India for medical treatment from these countries is because of unavailability of quality healthcare in their country & India is a better option due to its physical proximity, similarity in culture, food & language.

Sources:
1. Medical Tourism in India, Wikipedia 2. 'Indian Healthcare Services', J.P. Morgan, 12 March, p2; 'Medical Tourism in India: Progress, Opportunities and Challenges', Madras School of Economics 3. Canada has some of the longest wait times to see doctors, specialists: report 4. Indian Tourism Statistics 2014 - Ministry of Tourism - Government of India

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