Medical Tourism (MT) also termed as medical travel, health tourism or global healthcare is the provision of cost effective private medical care in collaboration with the tourism industry for patients abroad who need specialized treatment. Medical tourism – can be defined as the patient traveling from highly developed nations to less developed areas of the world for obtaining medical care due to various reasons, such as better convenience, lower cost, reduced waiting time to undergo a surgery/ treatment, which are unavailable in their own countries. Along with the treatment, they can also enjoy the charm of the countries they are visiting. Medical tourism is not just treating the patients who travel for medical care; it is all about making the patient feel at home away from home. Depending on the location and treatment procedure, a medical vacation can save upto 50%, 30%, or even 10% of what you would pay in your home country.
Millions of medical travelers or medical tourists travel overseas for their medical, dental and cosmetic procedures. Medical quality standards and international accreditation vary widely across the globe. As medical tourists may face unknown risks related to quality, safety and ethics, they look for medical / health tourism provider (medical tourism facilitators). A medical tourism provider may be an organisation or a company specialized in certain areas of healthcare. They seek to bring together a prospective patient with a service provider, usually a hospital or a clinic. It is the medical tourism provider who is responsible to offer complete information about medical facilities, quality, safety and legal issues. This include information about the hospitals, clinic, doctors / medical professionals, travel agencies, resorts, medical/ travel insurance overseas as well as information’s of local areas.
The process of medical tourism begins with a person seeking medical treatment abroad, contacting a medical tourism provider. The patient must provide their medical report, including the nature of ailment, local doctor’s opinion, medical history, diagnosis and other additional information. Then medical treatment is advised by certified medical doctors or consultants and the approximate expenditure for the treatment, choice of hospitals and tourist destinations and duration of stay, etc. are discussed. After signing consent bonds and agreements, the patient is given recommendation letters for a medical visa, to be procured from the concerned embassy. The patient travels to the destination country, where the medical tourism provider assigns a case executive, who takes care of the patient’s accommodation, treatment and any other form of care. Once the treatment is done, the patient can remain in the tourist destination or return home.
Many people seeking overseas healthcare options will not have any idea about where to start and what to do for their particular needs. The role of medical tourism provider / facilitator commence here. Medical tourism facilitators serve as a bridge between the patient and healthcare provider to ensure the patient has a very positive experience from beginning to end. They play an important role as educators, organizers, advocates etc. for the safe delivery of overseas healthcare individual. The facilitator plans the entire medical trip for an individual – from contracting for flight and hotels to organizing transportation, working with the patient to determine the best destination, coordinating with doctors regarding medical records and setting up calls for them to speak with their healthcare providers etc. As most medical tourists do not speak their native language, the facilitator makes sure that someone at the hospital speaks the patient’s language, create an efficient system and insulate a patient from any of the language barriers that might arise. Medical tourism facilitators also plans tourism activities for the patients. Some medical tourism facilitators will request an advance deposit from the medical tourist and ask them to pay the balance at the hospital.
Medical tourism which is a blend of leisure together with wellness and healthcare mainly focuses on two kinds of treatment systems, i. e Allopathic and Ayurvedic treatment system. Over 60 countries have identified medical tourism as a national industry and some of the most popular among them are Greece, South Africa, Jordan, India, Malaysia, Philippines and Singapore. India is one of the most lucrative and leading destination for medical tourism because of its international quality of medical care at the lowest rates in comparison with other countries. India is an attractive medical tourism destination with specialized team of doctors and superlative treatments along with world-class exotic tourist attraction comparable to other countries in the world.
The most popular treatments sought in India by medical tourists are alternative medicine, bone-marrow transplant, cardiac bypass, eye surgery, hip replacement, heart surgery, cosmetic surgery, dental care and other areas of advanced medicine. The cost of surgery can be one-tenth of what it is in the United States or Western Europe and sometimes even less. Our country is well known for the traditional systems of medicine, and for providing Ayurvedic treatments such as Ayurvedic oil massage therapy, herbal therapy, aroma therapy, spa and hydro therapy etc. that attracts large number of medical tourists. Besides these, Language is a major comfort factor that invites many foreign tourists to visit India for medical and health tourism. India has a large populace of good English speaking doctors, medical staff and guides. This makes it easier for foreigners to connect well with Indian doctors. Even with the the global economic downturn, medical tourism in India has emerged as the fastest growing segment of tourism industry.
Courses & Institutes in Medical Tourism
Certain Institutes in India offer Certificate, Diploma, Post Graduate Diploma and MBA courses in Medical Tourism. These courses, intended to train a candidate in the medical tourism field, provide sufficient knowledge about the travel and tourism industry, logistics and hospitality industry, legal/ ethical issue, medical facilities and conditions etc. Graduates/ 10+2 or its equivalent qualified candidates with good communication skills can opt for Medical Tourism courses. MBA in Medical Tourism are mainly for those working in the healthcare and tourism industry with the intention to increase their knowledge and skill set, enabling businesses to operate on a more sophisticated level. Graduates (medical/ non-medical) or a diploma holder in Medical Tourism with at least two years professional experience in either administrative or management level can join for the MBA Medical Tourism course.
Personal Skill Needed for Medical Tourism Providers : Medical tourism providers or facilitators should have good knowledge of the topography of various places and hospitals offering medical tourism, so that they can give proper guidance to the foreign tourists and patients from abroad in choosing the best hospital. They should be aware of even minute particulars of health care and travel industry, laws and regulations governing medical tourism industries, Visa and other related requirements. They must possess excellent communication, organization and leadership skills and must have the ability to handle people, develop an understanding of the quality issues and general customer services. They must have up to date knowledge of pricing, content/treatments, hospital ratings, accreditation information plus latest updates on local and destination country’s political/ visa restrictions policies and procedures.
Some institute offer online and correspondence courses in Medical Tourism. Medvarsity Hyderabad offers online certificate courses with CD and printed study materials for graduates of medicine in allopathy, homeopathy, ayurveda, unani, dentistry, paramedical sciences, physiotherapy, or allied health sciences. GIMS – Global Institute of Medical Sciences offers Diploma in Medical Tourism through Distance learning mode for 10+2 /Graduates (Any); MBBS, BHMS, BAMS, BDS, BPT, BOT etc.
Medical Tourism Courses in India
For Medical Tourism related courses, click on the following links
Career Opportunities in Medical Tourism
Medical Tourism is an open area where job opportunities are available in the fields of health care as well as tourism sectors. Besides doctors, nurses and physician assistants, there are employment opportunities available in the field of medical tourism in various positions such as guest relationship managers; hospital administrators; medical tour consultants etc. Candidates with relevant qualifications in the fields of medical tourism and hospital administration are preferred by most of the employers.
A career in medical tourism involves providing facilities for a client to travel, financing options for visas, arranging the hospital, boarding, lodging, best treatment, and tourism after treatment. Spa and wellness industry; Hospitality and Hotel Industry; health and allied services; Clinics, Health Spas; Ayurveda and Naturopathy Centers; Travel Agents; Tourism Agencies; Aviation Industry; Insurance companies etc. are some of the career avenues for the medical tourism professionals.
Today Indian hospitals and pharmaceutical companies are investing heavily in infrastructure and other required facilities for attracting foreign tourists. Hospitals that offer treatment for foreign patients tie up with travel agencies or can employ individuals who has graduated in travel and tourism management.
Travel and Tourism related courses like MBA Health Management, MBA Travel and Tourism Management, M. Sc. Health Care and Hospital Administration etc. will help an individual to upsurge a career in medical tourism field.
Remuneration in the field of medical tourism industry may depend upon the policy of the hospital or the facilitator. Some medical tourism facilitators will request an advance deposit from the medical tourist and ask them to pay the balance at the hospital. The payment varies according to the facilitators.
Fresh graduates working in various medical tourism sectors such as private and government hospital, travel companies etc. can expect an initial salary ranges from Rs. 8,000/- to Rs. 15,000/- per month. Depending upon the firm, the individuals qualification, experience and performance, within a short span of time, the pay scale may raise to Rs. 20000/- or above per month. MBA graduates with work experience can earn anything between Rs. 30,000/- to Rs. 50,000/-.