Medical Tourism – a new growth factor for India’s Healthcare Sector

Medical tourism can be defined as traveling to another country to acquire a particular medical treatment. It is mainly due to the unavailability, cost difference, and quality difference of specific curative therapy in a state.

Medical tourism – while the term may be slowly buzzing on Indian soil, it’s undoubtedly creating an impact at a global level. In layman’s terms, medical tourism means traveling from one country to another for advanced medical treatment. It is mainly due to the unavailability or low-quality medical treatment in one country due to which people travel to developed nations for better and high-quality treatments.

Is India fit for medical tourism?

Health crisis is one the major concerns for any developing, and hence, medicinal aid plays a significant role in such countries both regarding economic development and for a being a healthy state.

In recent years, India is not only contributing abundantly in trading, manufacturing, and R&D of pharma and drugs industry but is also one of the leading exporters around the globe.

As per Indian Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF) Annual Report 2017, the market size of the medical tourism market in India has reached US$3.0 BN as of April 2017 and expected to reach US$ 6 billion by the closure of 2018. And when it comes to medical tourism and attraction, the number of foreign tourists coming to India for medical purposes rose by almost 50 percent to 201,333 in 2016 from 134,344 in 2015. During 2013-16, India’s medical tourism grew at a CAGR of 27 percent.

Furthermore, the Indian tourism ministry also offers financial support to accredited Medical, and Wellness Tourism Service Providers, Chambers of Commerce for organizing workshops, events, seminars and other medical tourism promotion shows.

As published in in July 2017, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) report titled “India Services Sector—A Multi-trillion Dollar Opportunity for Global Symbiotic Growth 2017” stated that the presence of world-class hospitals and skilled medical professionals had strengthened India’s position as a preferred destination for medical tourism. Treatment for significant surgeries in India costs only a fraction—in some cases as low as 10% of that in developed countries.

The report also stated that the global medical economy is looking out for Indian pharma players, medical talent and know-how to help them in setting up advanced medical infrastructure, and assist in latest medical technology. Thus, it leads to growing demand for India’s pharmaceutical and healthcare expertise.

Innovation in India’s healthcare industry:

While multiple reports have stated about the growing demand and current market structure of India’s healthcare economy, some firms are contributing inside out for the progress and development of the country’s health. Health tech startups are one such who are driving the sector at a decent pace. Services offered by such health tech startups vary from air ambulance, online ambulance booking, healthcare, and medical reports on mobile to even making a doctor’s appointment and receiving the diagnosis on the go. One such Delhi based startup – medulance deals in providing online ambulance services via a mobile app making it convenient for the patient or the family members to book an ambulance, and ask for first responders and other medical technicians. It performs as a handy feature for the citizens, especially of the national capital – Delhi, since it’s one of the densely populated cities of the country where pollution, road mishaps, and other health concerns have been a significant problem.

In the bottom line, cost advantage and upcoming innovations in India’s healthcare system will significantly open doors to developed countries like the USA and is already a major destination for medical tourism for countries like Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Maldives, Pakistan, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and other the Middle East and African countries.

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