Medical tourism is a growing sector in India. There are many advantages of medical treatment in India which include reduced costs, availability of the latest medical technologies and a growing compliance on international quality standards doctors trained in western countries including the US and UK. India also has English speaking personnel, due to which foreigners are less likely to face a language barrier in India. Total hip arthroplasty, knee replacement, heart bypass, coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) and liver, kidney, and heart transplant are some of the popular and life-saving procedures for which medical tourists visit India.

What is Medical Tourism in India?

The top 10 source countries for patients were Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Iraq, Maldives, Oman, Yemen, Uzbekistan, Kenya, Nigeria, and Tanzania. India is known for heart surgery, hip resurfacing and other areas of advanced medicine. Cities like Chennai has an estimated 12,500 hospital beds, of which only half is used by the city’s population with the rest being shared by patients from other states of the country and foreigners. 

Special facilities in India

  • The Government has removed visa restrictions on tourist visas which is likely to boost medical tourism. A visa-on-arrival scheme for tourists from select countries has been instituted which allows foreign nationals to stay in India for 30 days for medical reasons. 
  • Despite India’s diversity of languages, English is an official language and is widely spoken by most people and almost universally by medical professionals. They also hire translators to make the tourist patient comfortable. 

Several features have positioned India as an ideal healthcare destination, like cost-effective healthcare solutions, availability of skilled healthcare professionals, reputation for successful treatment in advanced healthcare segments, increasing popularity of India ’s traditional wellness systems and rapid strides made in information technology. 

Such developments further enhance the potential of India as a ‘healthcare hub’ of the world.

The Medical Tourism business story

The promotion of Medical Tourism in India has helped private players to capitalize on this market opportunity. Private institutions like Max Healthcare has treated up to 50,000 foreign patients in their hospitals. Industrialist Sanjay Dalmia’s healthcare company Dalmia Healthcare in 2018, declared medical treatment consultation to international patients. The current medical tourism industry in India is estimated to be worth $3 billion and is expected to grow by another $4 – $5 billion in the next three years. Major corporations such as Tata, Fortis, Max, Wockhardt, and Apollo Hospitals have made significant investments in setting up modern hospitals and tourism-related services to cater to the new brand of visitors from abroad.

 India is also home to a number of alternative medicine techniques such as Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani, Yoga, Acupuncture, and Homeopathy which are very popular among foreigners. Such treatment opportunities give India an edge over its competitors like Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, and the UAE. Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, and Delhi are top destinations for foreign visitors coming from 55 countries.

Market estimate

According to industry estimates, the medical tourism market in India was valued at over $310 million in 2005-06 with 1 million foreign medical tourists visiting the country every year. The Taj Medical Group receives 200 inquiries a day from around the world and arranges packages for 20-40 Britons a month to have operations in India. Apollo Hospital Enterprises treated an estimated 60,000 patients between 2001 and 2004. Apollo now has 46 hospitals with over 7,000 beds and is in partnership with hospitals in Kuwait, Sri Lanka, and Nigeria. The government predicts that India’s healthcare industry could grow 13 percent in each of the next six years, boosted by medical tourism.

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