Insights on the Growth of Medical Tourism Industry

Insights on the Growth of Medical Tourism IndustryMedical tourism is exploding! As per statistics, the global market for medical tourism will bring in $143.8 billion by the end of 2022, as expected. And coming to Australia, there have been a growing number of people opting for this new trend as medical tourism service providers are gearing up with their exciting offers in this emergent market.

The concept broadly means individuals traveling overseas for availing top quality treatment at affordable costs or because a particular treatment is not available in their home country. Usually, the treatments sought after are medical tourism dental procedures, knee surgery, hair transplantation, eye treatment, cosmetic surgery and more.

Here’s what stats have to say:

    As per market reports, patients who are traveling abroad for medical purpose can make a savings of around 85% on the treatment procedures This industry is already gaining $400 billion per year Reports and experts have anticipated, the number of medical tourists will increase by 25% per year for the succeeding decade 60% of Australian medical tourists travel to Asian countries for two reasons – can save up to 75% on the same procedures back in their hometown and proximity.

General practitioners in Australia are good sources of advisors who recommend their patients for medical tourism dental, cosmetics or other procedures. Let us not take it as a surprise that patients are going beyond international boundaries, considering the increasing expense in the health sector in Australia, UK or US.

What are the perks of medical tourism?

Well, there are quite some benefits of availing medical tourism Thailand or other countries. Some of them include –

1. Avail treatment from accredited clinics and hospitals of high quality 2. Some doctors and surgeons are renowned globally. They are highly proficient and experienced with huge success rate.

3. The team of nurses, technicians and others are well-trained to offer personalized care to foreign patients.

4. Quick response with no waiting time

5. The countries have special arrangements for medical tourists

6. They have cutting age infrastructural set up with all necessary tools and equipment.

7. Surprisingly low cost as cost of living is cheap in Asian countries

8. Guess what? During medical tourism in Bangkok or other nations, you can also rejuvenate with a short vacation in between your check-ups.

9. Be assured regarding safety and prepare for the highest satisfaction.

Role of medical tourism service providers:

1. They offer financial support in case you need more fund while in the foreign land

2. Doctors with them will assess your medical condition initially and recommend you the most appropriate country for traveling.

3. The service providers will arrange for your visas and registration

4. They will arrange your flight bookings, accommodation, etc.

5. They would even provide you with aftercare support back in Australia

Isn’t that lucrative? Experts say, joining this trend would keep you on the beneficial side in terms of both money and health.

Top medical tourism destinations:

When it comes to destinations, medical tourism Thailand is a must mention. Over the years, Thailand has equally grown as the most preferred medical tourism destinations. Specifically for this place, patients can save somewhere from 50 to 75%. Again, India, Singapore, Malaysia are no behind in this battleground as they are also on the list.

For these developing countries, the medical tourism industry is one of the major revenue generators. Good news is governments of these nations are also supporting the trend completely.

To give you an example – back in 2011, Ministry of Interior of Thailand allowed 90 days of extended stay to patients from GCC countries without a visa.

Growth of medical tourism

This trend (which of course is successful) has created a great impact on the health sector of these countries. Besides improving the expertise in treatment specialty, there has been a significant amount of investment in the infrastructure for development. Furthermore, it has also encouraged exchange of tradition and culture across borders.

And finally, whether you should avail medical tourism in Bangkok. India, Malaysia or Singapore, you will be best guided by the companies. Ensure to invest in your good health! Contact us now if you are looking for a Medical Tourism Abroad.

Medical & Wellness Tourism

1. Definition

2. Potential in India

3. Current Scenario of Medical Tourism in India

4. Benefit of Medical Tourism to India

5. Challenges of Medical Tourism Sector

6. Government Support for Medical Tourism

7. Way Forward

1. What is Medical Tourism:

Medical tourism is defined as travel by an ill person to another country for medical care and well-being, rehabilitation & recuperation. This has been growing rapidly since the year 2000 when the hospitals in Far East – Thailand and Singapore – started to aggressively market their services. This segment is fast becoming a worldwide, billion dollar industry. Low cost travel has taken the industry beyond the wealthy and desperate. India has witnessed a massive transformation in the Indian healthcare sector, particularly in the secondary super specialty care during the last two decades.

2. Potential in India

Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) McKinsey study first reported on medical tourism in 2002 as the US $ 2.1 billion opportunity for India by 2012. The steady growth in overseas patient arrivals has validated the potential. Traditionally patients from neighbouring countries in SAARC region have always been coming to India and in 1980s patients from Middle East frequented hospitals in Mumbai, but the large inflow of patients from Africa and even the developed world like Europe, Canada, UK and USA has picked up only in the last five years. Medical tourism, especially in India has various fields of modern, traditional and alternative medicine. They are classified as follows:

Modern/ Allopathy Medicine: In addition to oral medication, it includes surgeries like – joint replacements, organ transplants, diagnostic tests, cosmetic surgeries, multi-specialty care and treatment of Infertility, Hematology or diseases related to blood and blood vessels. Furthermore, it also encompasses, dental implants and orthodontic care, laser hair removal, hair transplant and lastly, spa and beauty treatments.

Ayurveda: Ayurveda has been a unique health care system indigenous to the country since 600 BC. Ayurveda is a branch of medicine, completely based on a “naturalistic system”, depending on the diagnosis of the body’s ailments to achieve the right balance. This natural method of rejuvenation and overcoming ailment has gained significant popularity in the recent times

Yoga: It is a physiological and spiritual discipline, comprising of a secular and scientific methodology to experience the integration of the mind-body-spirit. India is known as the country where Yoga & Meditation are a way of life

Other Alternative Medicines includes Homeopathy, Naturopathy, Meditation and Music Therapy, Aroma Therapy, Pranic Healing and Reiki.

3. Current Scenario of Medical Tourism in India

India receives medical tourists from across the globe, however developing and underdeveloped countries form a major portion of the pie

Bangladesh accounts for the highest number of medical tourists owing to the lack of quality healthcare infrastructure and unavailability of skilled manpower in their country. Moreover, India is a convenient option because of its physical proximity and similarity in culture, food and language.

The SAARC countries have been an important source of medical tourists for India. Factors like proximity, direct air connectivity, and cultural connect help establish India as a preferred destination for medical tourism for patients from the region. With regional cooperation treaties in place, there is a mutual consent between these countries to promote each other as medical tourism destinations in a symbiotic fashion. For instance, Maldives has recently suggested that medical tourists coming to India for their treatment should be encouraged to travel to Maldives for rejuvenation purposes

The leading destinations of medical tourism in the country are Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, New Delhi, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Maharashtra. Due to the establishment of some of the earliest medical schools in the southern states of India, healthcare infrastructure available here is of high standards. This also resulted in the creation of a pool of clinical schools and entrepreneurial skills made available to the medical tourism industry to help facilitate growth at a faster pace than the rest of the states

Since the legalisation of commercial surrogacy in 2002, India has been a popular destination for intended parents from countries like Australia, U. S. Israel, and Europe owing to the low surrogacy costs and the prevalence of well-established fertility clinics. However, the Ministry of External Affairs, in 2012, imposed greater restrictions in this field through the introduction of new visa regulations. Issue of medical visas (and not general visas) has now become mandatory for all foreigners visiting India for commissioning surrogacy. A letter from the embassy stating that the country recognises surrogacy and the child born thereof will be treated as a biological child of the couple is also required. The treatment can be done only at registered ART clinics recognised by the ICMR

India is poised to become the hub for medical tourism because

a) Today India has world class hospitals that have the latest technologies which match with those found in hospitals of developed economies. Further, top-of the-line medical and diagnostic equipment from global international conglomerates is available at many Indian hospitals.

b) Indian physicians and surgeons are highly skilled and are amongst the best in the world.

c) The cost of treatment is a fraction of the cost in the West.

d) Quality nursing care. v. Minimal waiting period for patients for undergoing various procedures.

e) As the number of uninsured people and those with high deductibles continues to go up, many of them opt to be treated outside their native land, where they can manage to pay for the treatments. Medical Tourism in India offers low cost, or cost effective medical treatment with no waiting lists and accessibility of

skilled and renowned medical experts, allowing medical tourists from all over the world an easy access.

4. Benefit of Medical Tourism to India

Foreign Earning: Growth of Medical Tourism is likely to help India earn valuable foreign exchange and create a large number of new jobs in the healthcare sector. The companions who accompany the overseas patients also spend money on tourism and wellness services in India, which helps the economy to grow. According to Indian Medical Travel Association (IMTA), while an average holiday tourist may spend US $ 2000 on his trip to India – a medical tourist spends much higher at an average US $ 5000.

Cost advantage in tariff over the developed countries

Strategic alliances with business partners within and outside the country.

Increase in efficiency of patient care process, cutting edge treatment

Better coordination among the partners i. e. hospital and hospitality industry

An assessment done by IMTA has estimated that the patient arrival to India is presently growing at greater than 30% annually i. e. an estimated 4.5 lakh patients come to India every year for medical treatment. About 60 top Indian private hospitals in 10 cities of India which have international air/flight connectivity attract international patients. Keeping in view, the benefits of medical tourism concerted efforts are required to fully tap the potential of this niche sector.

Low investments in health infrastructure.

Middle men with little or no knowledge and training to manage patient are playing havoc.

6. Government Support for Medical Tourism

India’s National Health Policy declares that treatment of foreign patients is legally an “export” and deemed “eligible for all fiscal incentives extended to export earnings.”

Benefits under the market development assistance scheme: Medical tourism service providers (including representatives of hospitals accredited by JCI and NABH, and medical tourism facilitators i. e. travel agents/tour operators), who are approved by the Ministry of Tourism, receive fiscal support under the Market Development Assistance Scheme (MDA)

Separate category of visa: In order to attract a large quantum of medical tourists, the government has introduced a separate category of medical visa: M-visa. This visa can be extended for additional 12 months beyond the one year issue period. A no-hindrance-clearance has been provided for medical tourists at the airports

Improving the quality of services: For the accreditation of hospitals, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has set up a National Accreditation Board for Hospitals, under the Ministry of Commerce

Tourism circuits: The new government’s manifesto includes plans to build 50 tourism circuits, along with a medical circuit connecting hubs of modern medicine and ayurveda

I. India should position itself as one of the best providers of high end treatments like cardiac surgery, orthopaedic, spinal work and cancer care. Need exists to undertake aggressive and focused overseas marketing to make the potential market aware of the unmatched cost and quality offered by Indian healthcare.

II. Specific road shows be organised in potential markets in association with the hospitals and local operators promoting medical tourism.

III. The Medical Visa Scheme and the immigration process which is cumbersome and inconvenient to patients coming to India for treatment, needs to be streamlined for this category of travellers.

IV. To focus on language training for select countries from where tourists are coming in larger numbers

V. Enhance competitive advantage with lesser waiting time for treatment.

VI. To provide for brighter prospects for the industry, the hospitals can also acquire international accreditation, integrate traditional and clinical treatments and offer end-to-end value added services.

Somewhat similar to this is Wellness Tourism. Essentially wellness tourism comprises of healthy persons travelling to another country (or another city/region within their country) to pursue holistic, preventive, or lifestyle based services that enhance their personal well-being.

Potential of Wellness tourism

According to a study reported in the Global Spa Summit Report 2010, it is conservatively estimated that the wellness industry cluster represents a market of nearly $2 trillion dollars globally out of which spas, complementary & alternative medicine, healthy eating/nutrition & weight loss constitute US $ 60 billion, US $ 113 billion & US $ 276 billion respectively. It is also estimated that there are already about 289 million wellness consumers in the world’s 30 most industrialized and wealthiest countries

Challenge in India for becoming a Wellness Tourism Hub: Despite the competitive advantage for development and promotion of India as an international wellness tourism destination, there are various challenges faced by the Indian wellness industry. These are as under:

i. Need exists for formulating a mechanism based on global standards for service differentiation as well as for evaluating & ensuring safe & quality care, thus instilling confidence among the foreign tourists.

ii. Need for authentic data base for tourists to select the right organization to avail care.

iii. Intense shortage of trained manpower at various levels e. g. spa therapists, ayurveda therapists, nutrition experts and beauty therapists

iv. Lack of specialized courses for managing wellness centers such as, spa managers trained in domain specific knowledge and business building techniques.

v. Need for focused marketing and promotion and to build Brand India as a wellness tourist destination.

Appropriate sustainable employment generation schemes like Hunar se Rozgar could be run, to encourage a greater number of students to make spa & wellness, as a career. Special emphasis needs to be given to the North Eastern Region as this area is important in contributing to this segment in terms of providing manpower

Recognizing that India has a vast potential to be developed as a leading wellness tourist destination, there is an intense need for overcoming the various challenges faced by this segment through a collaborated and sustained effort, both of the Government and the industry.

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