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Medical Tourism: A Handy Guide for Doctors

  • Highlights

  • The Indian medical tourism market is valued at $ 7 -8 billion by 2020

  • High-quality healthcare at a low cost makes India a popular medical tourism destination

  • Top ways to attract international medical patients

Medical tourism in India:

India is the most prominent destination as per the Medical Tourism Market Report: 2015 due to highest quality treatment provided at the lowest cost. In Oct 2015, the value of Indian medical tourism was estimated to be $ 3 billion and it is expected to reach $ 7 -8 billion by 2020. As per the CII-Grant Thornton report released in October-2015, 34% of medical tourist are from Bangladesh and Afghanistan, 30 % are from Russia and Commonwealth of Independent States and remaining from Africa and Middle East. The number of medical tourists to India is described in the following table-

Year Number of medical tourists
2012 171,021
2013 236,898
2014 184,298

The way forward for medical professionals:

For medical tourism to have a major impact, healthcare providers have to invest in an active social media profile, a well-maintained website and blog. Collaborating with travel agencies, five-star hotels and other hospitality service providers will help to ensure comfort to international tourists in every aspect by taking care of their end-to-end requirements. Investment in technology, security and translators is important to ensure make Indian healthcare become world-class. Loans for Doctors are

customized financing solutions that help you make the necessary investment and cash on the booming medical tourism market.

Factors attracting medical tourist to India:

Medical tourism is growing by 30% each year. Chennai is named as the “Health Capital of India”, as it attracts 45% of medical tourist due to number of multi and super-specialty hospitals. It is estimated that Chennai has approximately 150 international patients every day. The various factors which attract medical tourist to India are:

1) Cost:

India provides the highest quality healthcare at the lowest price. The cost of treatment in India is one-tenth the cost of same treatment in US/UK. For example, Heart Bypass cost approximately $ 123,000 in US and whereas in India it cost approximately $7900.

2) Quality

India provides treatment of high quality using the latest technology and technique. India has 28 JCI accredited hospitals.

3) Waiting time:

In developed countries like US, UK and Canada patients have to wait for major surgeries. India has no waiting time or very less waiting time for surgeries.

4) Language:

Despite linguistic diversity in India, English is considered as an official language. Due to which communication becomes easy with foreign patients as it is an international language.

5) Travel:

Government of India, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the Ministry of Tourist are working hard to make India a more prominent medical destination. For this purpose, medical visa (M-visa) has been introduced, which allows a medical tourist to be in India for a specific period. Apart from this, visa on arrival is granted for citizens from few countries, which allows them to stay in India for 30 days.

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How to attract medical tourist and the cost involved:

Cost involved in hosting an international patient depends upon factors like the medical intervention needed, hospital and physician selected for it and duration of stay.
Medical tourism is a competitive sector. In order to attract medical tourist, following things should be done:

1. Invest in technology:

Medical tourists get attracted to world class healthcare facilities. You need to invest wisely in providing best practices and facilities. The cost for it depends on the type of facility being provided. For increasing accessibility, create an app for your hospital or clinic; it will cost approximately 5 lakhs.

2. Have a strong online presence:

Online marketing is very important in medical tourism. You need to maintain a user-friendly and easy-to-understand website and blog. The cost of maintaining a CMS website is approximately 15,000 rupees and a blog page will cost you approximately 500 rupees per year for domain name and hosting. Answer queries; keep live chat option to be accessible all time. Live chat cost approximately 1200 rupees per month. Be active on social media like Facebook, LinkedIn etc. Facebook has an option of promoting page and it can cost you 17.44 to 36.8 rupees per like.

3. Collaborate:

Medical tourism is a team effort. You need to invest for collaborating with hospitality partners, representatives of international health office, etc.

Additional service to attract medical tourist:

Apart from quality healthcare, medical tourists should be provided with other services in order to make their travel and stay comfortable. Additional services to be provided for medical tourists are:

1. Quotation Assistance:

Quotation is a primary concern for a medical tourist. Physicians should make an approximate quotation based upon the medical intervention and hospital stay required.

2. Visa Assistance:

Visa invitation letter is needed for applying medical visa to India. Upon receiving the required details such as passport number, visa invitation letter should be issued for prospective foreign patient.

3. Collaborate:

Medical tourism is a team effort. You need to invest for collaborating with hospitality partners, representatives of international health office, etc.

3. Accommodation service:

Comfort is very important, invest in it. Rooms for international patients should be spacious and have 24*7 room service, laundry service, internet, AC, TV and meals facility. Collaborate with a travel agency, five-star hotels, guest house, etc. in order to ensure comfort.

4. Interpretation service:

The staff hired for international patients should be fluent in speaking English. In case of non-English speaking patients, translators should be hired. Pay scale for translators is approximately 4.2 lakh p.a.

5. Security service:

Safety cannot be compromised. Sufficient investment must be done for hiring efficient man power and using latest technology.

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