Developments in health tourism in India


The Indian Tourism Ministry has agreed to pay over $27,000 to 10 medical tourism service providers including representatives of hospitals, travel agents and tour operators. India’s medical tourism is now included in the Marketing Development Assistance (MDA) scheme, under which medical tourism service providers can be given financial assistance. The ministry suggested that although in 2002, only 150,000 foreign patients visited India for treatment, the estimate for 2010 is around 500,000.But it admitted that these are no more than rough estimates as there are no official figures. India has been a pioneer in medical tourism due to low prices and modern medical technology. Patients visit India mostly for heart surgery, knee transplants, cosmetic surgery and dental care.

According to Vishal Bali of Fortis Healthcare, Americans are increasingly visiting Mumbai for medical treatment. He says: “There has been a 30-35% rise in American patients being treated in Mumbai each year. And we are not including non-resident Indians. They find treatment here more affordable, and it is high quality healthcare. A cardiac surgery in India costs $13,000, including stay and travel. In the US it costs $55,000 - $75,000. “

According to a new research report from RNCOS “Indian Healthcare - New Avenues for Growth”, medical tourism is expected to create a huge opportunity for the country’s private hospitals, with a large number of patients from all over the world expected to visit India to receive first world healthcare facilities at third world prices. It is expected that the medical tourism market will grow at 31% a year during 2010-2013.

To promote medical tourism, the Tamil Nadu government is planning to bring out tourism brochures in consultation with medical institutions. Citing the availability of super speciality hospitals in the state, providing quality services affordable cost, the state’s primary objective is to make Tamil Nadu a favoured domestic and international tourist destination. Patients mostly come from the Middle East, Pakistan and some African countries.

An Indian company, Vipul MedCare, is offering expatriate Indians in Dubai an opportunity to obtain healthcare in their country of origin. Vipul MedCare, which has an alliance with Dubai-based Avita Healthcare and Global Assistance, plans to market its packages to UAE insurers that provide group health insurance benefits to companies. These packages include second medical opinions, electronic medical record management and elective surgical procedures. The mounting cost of health care has become a hot issue for the UAE insurance sector. While medical insurance continues to be profitable for insurers, they are unhappy at the high cost of healthcare. According to a regional health care report by Alpen Capital, expatriates in the GCC prefer their native countries when it comes to medical treatment as they are unhappy with the quality of medical care at government run hospitals and clinics in the GCC.Vipul Med Care's network extends to 4000 hospitals across India. It will target companies such as those in construction and labour supply with a substantial base of Indians.

Apollo Hospitals will open standalone cosmetic clinics in Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Hyderabad in the next six months. Apollo has formed a subsidiary, Apollo Cosmetic Surgical Centre to run Apollo Cosmetic Clinics that will offer a range of cosmetic surgeries, including liposuction, rhinoplasty, breast enhancement, eyelid lift and beauty procedures such as botox, dermal filling and facelift. It will soon include stem cell-based cosmetic correction. Apollo’s cosmetic care initiative is to help India to be a healthcare destination for cosmetic surgery.

A range of medical treatments presently unavailable in the island will be made available to Sri Lankans in neighbouring India at an affordable cost, a newly launched health tourism company says. Manilal Fernando of Comfort Health Care explains, "Our aim is to offer high quality health care at an affordable cost to middle income families. What we are offering is a home to home service, where the patient leaves home, gets the treatment in India and comes back home safely."

Comfort Health Care, Sri Lanka will provide services from second opinions to sourcing the right medical facilities, arranging visas, and organizing travel and accommodation in addition to medical treatment. The company will also ensure a smooth handover to the patient's local doctor for follow up and after care. Specialized treatments include transplants, cancer treatment, scans and assisted reproduction.



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