A huge number of patients visit India every year to seek high-quality medical and surgical treatment services. Medical tourism in India is popular for a variety of procedures, especially the ones related to the cosmetic, orthopedic, cardiac, neurology, and organ transplant surgery.
The medical tourism industry in India is currently growing at an immense rate. According to a medical tourism report for the year 2015, more than 2,000,000 patients from abroad traveled to India to seek medical treatment.
A large credit for a sudden boom in medical tourism in India goes to the government that has been quite instrumental in the promotion of the wellness industry. There is a dedicated National Medical and Wellness Tourism Board in India that provides a well-formed framework for the promotion of medical tourism encompassing modern medical sciences and the ancient Indian medical systems Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy (AYUSH).
This article focuses on why the efforts made by the government and the hospitals together have led to the successful establishment of a medical tourism sector in India which is worth billions of dollars today. In addition, it explores the success stories of some of the patients who traveled from different parts of the world to seek good quality and affordable medical treatment in India.
Medical Tourism in India: Success Storiess
Millions of patients from abroad have so far availed the best medical facilities in India. They have been successfully treated by some of the highly experienced and trained medical professionals in the country and have safely returned back to their home country with a success story of their own.
A medical tourism report considering data for the year 2015-16 suggests that a majority of Indian medical visa were issued to patients from Bangladesh, followed by other regions such as Afghanistan, African countries, other Asian countries, Iraq, and Nigeria.
Sri Lanka, Kenya, Pakistan, and Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries also rank among some of the leading nations from where a maximum number of patients come to avail the best medical facilities in India.
Success Story of a Patient from Kenya
Sri Ganga Ram Hospital in New Delhi is one of the best hospitals in India. The team of doctors at the hospital conducted a single surgery to perform an open heart surgery and liver transplant simultaneously in a three-year-old child from Kenya. The surgery was completed successfully. It lasted for a period of over 15 hours and was together performed by a team of nearly 40 medical professionals.
Success Story of a Patient from Pakistan
India is undoubtedly the best place for medical tourism in the world. This is evident from the case of yet another three-year-old child from Pakistan. The child had a congenital heart defect. Despite the presence of tension between the two nations, the Indian government and the authorities at Jaypee Hospital in Noida made sure to help the parents of the little child plan a medical trip to India. The child underwent a surgery for congenital defect correction and the family flew back safely to Lahore.
Success Story of a Patient from the UAE
Two brothers from the UAE were diagnosed with left ventricular failure back in June 2017. The family had earlier lost one of their other child because of heart failure. Luckily, they were able to fly to India at a renowned hospital in Chennai for cadaver heart transplant. The two boys were treated successfully, following which they flew back to their home country.
Success Story of a Patient from Poland
A 60-year-old Polish lady decided to visit Fortis Hospital in Bangalore for spine surgery when she could not bear the excruciating back pain anymore. The lady led a busy life and never thought of visiting a doctor to check for the reason behind the pain in the back that came and went by itself. She eventually became bedridden because of the pain and was completely relieved of the pain after undergoing lumbar fusion surgery in Bangalore.
Success Story of a Patient from Yemen
A 28-year-old from Yemen seriously injured his leg during a gunfight. Despite all surgical interventions at his home country, his condition did not improve. He decided to seek treatment at Fortis Hospital located at Bannerghatta Road in Bangalore, which is a renowned hospital that offers the best medical facilities in India. Experienced surgeons performed bone grafting on his leg and the reconstructive surgery offered a new lease of life to him.
Medical Tourism Industry in India: Important Statistics
Medical tourism in India is a sector that has grown tremendously between the year 2013 and 2017. A fair share of this growth can be attributed to the ease with which foreign nationals can seek Indian medical visa and medical attendant visa.
A medical tourism report published by the Ministry of Tourism indicates that the foreign tourist arrival on medical visa has increased by almost 140 percent between the years 2013 and 2015. Nearly two-thirds of the total patients who traveled to India between 2013 and 2015 hailed from Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and Nigeria.
In the year 2013, nearly 50,000 people traveled to India for low-cost surgery and other procedures. The number increased to 75,000 in 2014 and a whopping 134,000 in the year 2015. More than 200,000 patients were reported to arrive in the country with a medical visa in the year 2016. The trend has been quite similar in the case of medical attendants as well. The number of people traveling on a medical attendant visa increased from 42,000 in 2013 to 99,000 in 2015.
Some of the major disciplines that attract foreign nationals for low-cost surgery and other types of procedures include orthopedics, general surgery, oncology, and gastroenterology. During the financial year 2015 to 2016, ophthalmology attracted the maximum number of patients from abroad. But the highest export earning were reported in the field of orthopedics, followed by cardiology and neurology.
The success and achievement of the medical tourism industry in India, thus, can be clearly seen from the striking number of patients who visit the country to avail best medical facilities in India. India has emerged as a primary medical tourist destination because of a number of reasons. Some of the major reasons are explored in the sections below.
What makes India the best destination for medical tourism?
India was never so advanced when it comes to medical infrastructure and services. The limited number of healthcare professionals in the country were hardly able to look after the medical needs of the domestic patients, let alone patients from abroad.
However, the situation has drastically changed in the last two decades. Huge advancements have been made in technology, infrastructure, and manpower in the Indian healthcare sector. The progress made in the last 10 years have made the country rank among the list of best medical tourism destinations in the world.
This is just one of the reasons that make India the best place for medical tourism in the world. The following are the other leading reasons why India has emerged as a medical tourism destination:
Availability of High-Quality Treatment
There are many countries around the world that do not offer high-quality treatment to its patients. Quality here does not only refer to the standard of medical and surgical services, but also to the availability of latest technology used to conduct procedures with complete precision and accuracy.
India, on the other hand, is one country where a patient can undergo any type of treatment at an extremely affordable cost without compromising the quality.
The cost of medical treatment in India is much less as compared to its counterparts with similar quality of healthcare services. A medical tourist from abroad saves anywhere between 50 to 70 percent of their money by traveling to India for medical treatment even when their accommodation and boarding expenses are taken into account.
Traveling and Leisure Options
Medical tourism involves the movement of a patient from one location to another to seek high-quality and affordable medical treatment. But the idea of combining their medical trip with an opportunity to visit a few popular places located near the destination city does not sound that awful.
Even though access to better healthcare is the primary motivation behind a patient’s visit to a foreign land, those traveling for non-critical treatment can visit a few popular locations from the list of must-see places in India. This is especially possible for patients traveling for dental treatment or cosmetic care.
Why travel to India for medical treatment?
There are a number of reasons why medical tourists should prefer to travel to India for medical treatment rather than to choose some other country. Some of the leading reasons include the following:
Low cost of medical treatment in India.
Even the best hospitals in India offer low cost surgery.
Indian medical visa can be availed in a hassle-free manner.
Best medical facilities are available under a single roof.
Options to choose from one of the several treatment packages customized as per individual needs.
Around the clock availability of doctors and surgeons at the best hospitals in India.
Complete hand-holding from the point of admission to complete recovery and discharge.
Negligible waiting time.
World-class services can be availed at institutions accredited by JCI and NABH.
Excellent hospitality and cultural acceptance.
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Strengths of Medical Tourism Industry in India
Healthcare sector in India is one of the largest growing industries with an important contribution to the economy. The cross-border delivery of health services has always been a challenge to the medical tourism industry in India.
But the government and the industry experts both realize now that cross-border trade with respect to medical tourism can help create and finance the resources required in the healthcare industry. This is the reason why the two bodies have collaborated to create a strong medical tourism network that enables patients to seek quality healthcare services in India.
Several strengths and weaknesses of medical tourism in India have been identified so far by the industry experts. In addition, the liberalization of trade has created a long list of opportunities and challenges in a developing country like India, which provides efficient and quality healthcare services to the world.
Availability of alternatives to modern medicines such as Yoga, naturopathy, and Ayurveda.
Availability of best and latest technology.
State-of-the-art infrastructure maintained at the best hospitals in India..
Affordability of medical treatment.
Presence of strong network of pharmacies.
Healthcare sector privatization.
Availability of most experienced and skilled doctors and surgeons.
Separate dietary recommendations for patients from abroad.
Establishment of exclusive wings for medical tourists.
The following are some of the other strengths of the medical tourism industry in India:
Negligible waiting time allows patients to seek treatment within hours of arrival.
High standards of patient care and diagnostic services.
Highly trained and empathetic hospital staff with excellent English-speaking skills.
Availability of an environment that allows for quick healing.
An option to combine non-critical treatment with a leisure trip.
Strong network of air, rail, and road transportation services for better connectivity.
Renowned experts from the industry claim that the number of patients traveling on Indian medical visa increases by at least 40 to 45 percent each year. The total worth of the medical tourism industry in India was estimated to be around $3 billion in 2015. However, recent projections indicate that the medical tourism in India will touch the $8 billion mark by the end of 2020.