Features - India Report

Medical tourism - the fastest growing section in India tourism

India’s medical tourism market continues to grow. It is an attractive destination for foreign patients because of the low cost of medical procedures and the high quality of treatment offered in several advanced hospitals accredited by the Joint Commission International. Middle East Health reports.

The world medical tourism market is projected to reach US$143.8 billion by 2022, according to a new report published by Big Market Research.

North America and Asia-Pacific are estimated to remain principal revenue-generating regions and collectively accounted for more than 60% of the global medical tourism market in 2015, in terms of revenue.

The Asia-Pacific is the fastest growing region and within this region India and Malaysia are the fastest growing countries.

The report notes that the cancer treatment segment would continue to lead the market throughout the analysis period owing to an increase in the number of crossborder travellers seeking better cancer treatment. In addition, cancer treatment is expensive and prolonged, hence better treatment available at affordable prices motivates several patients to choose medical tourism.

North America and Asia-Pacific are the major hosts for travellers seeking cancer treatment. In addition, neurological treatment emerged as the fastest growing segment with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.2%, in terms of revenue, during the forecast period. Neurological treatment requires a high level of expertise and there are limited personnel with the requisite expertise. An increasing number of people are diagnosed with neurological ailments, owing to their stressful lifestyles and increasing longevity. This is anticipated to increase the number of medical tourists travelling to destinations which offer advanced neurological treatment.

In India medical tourism is the fastest growing segment of the tourism industry in the country according to a recent report by iGate Research. The report says the Indian medical tourism sector is expected to experience a CAGR of 17% during the period 2015- 2020. The report notes that as medical treatment costs in the developed world increase more patients from Western countries are finding the prospect of international travel for medical care increasingly appealing.

In October 2015, India’s medical tourism sector was estimated to be worth $3 billion. It is projected to grow to $7-8 billion by 2020.

According to iGate Research, Afghanistan is the leading source country for medical tourism in India, followed by Bangladesh – primarily due to their close proximity with India and poor healthcare infrastructure. Iraq, the Maldives and Nigeria are next on the list. Other important source countries include the United States, United Kingdom and the United ArabEmirates. The report notes that Russia is an important emerging source of medical tourists for India and it is expected to grow significantly over the next few years.

According to the Confederation of Indian Industries, the primary reason for foreign patients to go to India for treatment is costeffectiveness and treatment from accredited facilities on par with developed countries. The Medical Tourism Market Report: 2015 found that India offered “one of the lowest cost and highest quality of all medical tourism destinations. It offers a wide variety of procedures at about one-tenth the cost of similar procedures in the United States”.

Advantages of medical treatment in India include reduced costs, the availability of the latest medical technologies and a growing compliance with international quality standards. With English widely spoken in India, foreign patients are less likely to facea language barrier in the country. To cater to the growing demand, several leading hospitals in India have established ‘International’ desks and foreign concierge services to assist foreigners seeking medical treatment in India. India has 27 Joint Commission International (JCI) accredited hospitals. The complete list of JCI-accredited hospitals can be found here: http://tinyurl.com/guabmoz. The city of Chennai has been termed “India’s health capital”. Multi- and super-specialty hospitals across the city bring in an estimated 150 international patients every day.

Government assistance
The Indian Government has removed many visa restrictions and introduced a visa-on-arrival scheme for medical tourists – a Medical Visa and Medical Attendant Visa – from selected countries; this allows foreign pateints to stay in India for 30 days for medical reasons which can be extended up to one year depending upon treatment requirements.

According to Dr Mahesh Sharma, Minister of State for Culture and Tourism (Independent Charge) and Minister of State for Civil Aviation, a National Medical and Wellness Tourism Board has been constituted to provide a dedicated institutional framework to take forward the promotion of Medical Tourism, Wellness Tourism and Yoga, Ayurveda Tourism and other formats of the Indian system of medicine covered by Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy (AYUSH).

This Board works as an umbrella organization that governs and promotes this segment of tourism in an organized manner. It has representatives from AYUSH, Quality Council of India, and the National Accreditation Board for Hospitals and Healthcare Providers (NABH).


Fortis Hospital in top 10 hospital for medical tourism worldwide

In 2014 the Medical Travel Quality Alliance ranked the top 10 hospitals in the world for medical tourism.

MTQUA points out that medical tourists are not ordinary patients, and require care beyond standard clinical protocols. Communication, cultural expectations, social practices, ethics, and post-discharge care coordination are some of the factors that affect good care for traveling international patients.

“It’s almost impossible for medical tourists to know how to find a good hospital that will truly provide the treatment and care they are traveling to get. We hope consumers and doctors will pay more attention to non-clinical factors that can significantly impact clinical outcomes and not just ask about hotels and airport pickups,” says Julie Munro, MTQUA president.

Fortis Hospital in Bangalore ranked number 3 on the list and was the only hospital in India to make the top 10.

MTQUA says their criteria for selecting the top 10 hospitals for medical tourism includes communication, transparency, privacy, security, marketing, ethics and leadership.

Omani toddler undergoes cardiac and tracheal surgery at Apollo Children’s Hospital

Earlier this year Apollo Children’s Hospital in Chennai successfully performed for the first time in India a high-risk combined cardiac and tracheal surgery on a 11-month-old Omani patient.

Yaseen Essa Salim Saleem Al Ruqaishi, a Down’s syndrome patient, was diagnosed with congenital heart problems and life-threatening narrowing of the airway passages. These conditions caused repeated respiratory infections and increased risk of cardiac arrest for Yaseen. Omani doctors, realizing the need for a multi-disciplinary approach along with effective pre and post-operative care, referred Yaseen to Apollo Children’s Hospital, Chennai.

The Omani infant with large VSD (Ventricular Septal Defect) and PDA (Patent Ductus Arteriosus) was kept on a ventilator for two months with congenital tracheal stenosis. The team at Apollo Children’s Hospital coordinated the transfer of the patient from Oman and took care of the preoperative procedures.

The combined cardiac and thoracic surgery lasted six hours, with cardiac, thoracic, anaesthesia and critical care teams working hand in hand to correct Yaseen’s heart defect and rectify his narrow airway passage.

Commenting on the risk involved in the procedure, Dr Rajan Santosham, Thoracic Surgeon, said: “It was a very challenging procedure considering the infant’s age and the fragile condition of both his heart and windpipe. But thanks to the careful planning of our multi-disciplinary team we were able to successfully perform the surgery.”

Dr Neville Solomon, Pediatric Cardio Thoracic Surgeon, Apollo Children’s Hospital, Chennai, said: “The success of the procedure confirms the potential for safe and effective access to combined cardiac and tracheal surgeries to be performed in India. Yaseen is breathing naturally for the first time in two months of being on a ventilator.”

Post-surgery, Yaseen was moved to the CTICU (Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit) and was managed by the Critical Care Unit of Apollo Children’s Hospital.


Apollo Hospitals win IMTJ award

The IMTJ Medical Travel Awards 2016 celebrate outstanding achievement in the medical travel, medical tourism and health tourism industry worldwide. At the awards Apollo Hospitals in India won the IMTJ Medical Travel Award 2016 for ‘International stem cell treatment centre of the year’.



 Date of upload: 8th July 2016


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