India – The Emerging Global Health Destination

Recognized as a potential “global health destination”, India is set to reach new heights in the field of medical tourism. There has been an increase in the number of foreign patients in India in recent years. Records suggest that the cost of healthcare and medical services in India is almost one-tenth of the prices charged in the US or Britain. This is one of the primary factors accounting for the rise in the number of medical tourists. Besides, the quality of medical services offered here is, in no way, inferior to its British or American counterpart. Indian corporate hospitals use the latest technologies and offer advanced medical services, in line with the hospitals in developed nations.

Realizing the prospect of medical tourism in India, the government has decided to take proper steps towards promoting India as a “high tech healing center.” In fact, the private healthcare organizations have done a wonderful job by upgrading themselves to international standards. Having achieved the goal of meeting the international medical standards, the government is eyeing ways to promote Indian medical tourism industry abroad. The idea of providing world-class treatment at affordable charges, definitely the focal point of attraction, should be propagated in foreign countries. This is no story because Indian corporate hospitals are offering excellent healthcare practices such as cosmetic surgery, hip resurfacing, cardiac surgery, joint replacements and dentistry at comparatively low rates.

The number of foreign patients traveling to India has increased in the past few years. This number is slated to increase further as the government expects to earn revenue of around $2 billion by 2012. Declared as India’s health capital, Chennai ropes in around 45% of medical tourists from abroad and 30-40% of health tourists from within the country. This is good news indeed for the medical tourism industry in India.

There isn’t an iota of doubt that the main appeal of Indian medical tourism lies in its low cost, high quality medical treatment. For instance, the Madras Medical Mission, a Chennai-based hospital, conducted a complex heart surgery on an 87-year-old American at $8,000. The patient, on his recovery, asserted that a less complex operation had cost him $40,000 in America. Besides, diagnostic services and regular health check ups are a lot more cost- saving in India. A thorough health check up that includes blood tests, electro cardiogram tests, chest x-rays, lung tests, and abdominal ultrasound costs around £345 in London. On the other hand, these similar tests can be performed in India at a minimal charge of $84.

For many foreign patients, cost may not be the only factor determining their decision to land up in a medical tourist destination. India, for long, has been looked at with distrust with regard to cleanliness. The reality is, Indian private health concerns meet international standards of cleanliness and hygiene. All that is required is the confidence of our foreign tourists in the Indian medical system. They should not overlook the fact that there are many Americans and Britons who are accustomed to being treated by expatriate Indian doctors.

Following the current trend, the future of Indian medical tourism seems bright with the number of medical tourists increasing day by day.