LARGEST DESTINATION FOR MEDICAL TOURISM IDENTIFIED AS INDIA
India’s visionary Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke passionately about the country’s potential to become a global center for medical tourism, helping and saving millions of lives every year, at the recently completed Global Investment in Ayush Summit. He established the goal of Heal in India becoming one of the most well-known brands of the decade with all the macro elements favoring significant investments into the Indian Medical Tourism sector.
The medical tourism sector in India began to take off at the beginning of the previous decade as more private hospitals began sending their patients to nearby nations. Pioneers who served patients from neighboring Bangladesh before spreading their services to Nepal included Dr. Reddy of Apollo and Dr. Shetty of Narayana Healthcare. Following them, Fortis, Medanta, and Dr. Rela made significant inroads into the CIS, the Middle East, and Africa. An industry of medical travel facilitators was created to support the work of these hospitals by promoting them and opening offices in these areas to promote Indian healthcare.
These regions now send about 2 million patients to India each year, spending $4 billion on foreign currency. But things appear much more promising now.
Under the direction of Prime Minister Modi, India’s Minister of Health, Dr. Mansukh Madaviya, has given medical tourism an unprecedented boost by designating it as a champion sector. The government is making every effort to position India as the top medical tourism destination in the world, with plans to triple the market to $12 billion within the next four years and establish a new sector that would support millions of jobs nationwide. Never before has an Indian government focused on the industry with such consistency and thoroughness. However, the Modi administration is fully aware of its potential as a source of foreign exchange, a creator of jobs, and an advocate for India’s soft power. Many African and Asian politicians and government officials owe India’s healthcare system for saving the life of a loved one. We have a great advantage in this given the constantly shifting geopolitics.
A lot needs to happen, though, in order for medical travel to take off. A lot of money has already been invested in bringing Indian hospitals up to level with the best hospitals in the world in terms of skill and equipment. However, hardly any effort has been made to create the ecosystem needed to draw in patients from abroad. Patients spend 80–85% of their time in nearby guesthouses, where they are more likely to have a negative experience and contract an infection. These lodgings must be standardized, and hotel developers must provide patient-specific lodgings close to medical facilities. 80–90% of patients from other countries travel to India with the help of a medical travel facilitator, who also serves as the patient’s travel and health counselor.
These businesses, which promote Indian healthcare in more than 70 countries through their offices, digital marketing, and regular events, need a significant investment. There is a pressing need to introduce standardization to this group of service providers.