Medical Tourism – Story of Evolving Paradigms

Medical Tourism is an emerging and evolving subset of the health care industry which can be defined as “Receiving medical treatment in a destination different from the native country which provides high quality and cost effective care and cure”

Contrary to popular perception, the ‘care and cure’ extends way beyond cosmetic procedures to include intricate surgeries and stem cell transplants as well. In fact, with this sunrise sector expanding its roots and branches across the globe, medical tourism will increasingly cater to high end medical treatments and services, both in complexity and advancement. It goes without saying that some of the medical tourism hubs will grow faster than the rest on the wings of proven expertise, better resources, quality service and cost effective rates. The global medical tourism market is currently believed to be growing at a CAGR of 9% but the continued momentum is likely to up the growth by leaps and bounds.

India’s hope lies in its inherent scope – whether in terms of geography, skilled resources, amicable culture or cost effective rates. At the same time, India needs to rise to the occasion vis-à-vis Latin American and Southeast Asian countries, especially in respect of critical areas including:

• Mitigating risk of malpractices and undue litigation
• Streamlined allied services including travel, accommodation and insurance
• Well defined and hassle-free regulatory environment
• Minimal involvement of Third party players

If India does address the challenges on major fronts, the hope will indeed be fueled by the scope in the coming years. Today, the popular treatment options for medical tourists coming to India include Alternative Medicine, Bone marrow Transplant, Cardiac Bypass, Eye Surgery and Hip Replacement. But I have no doubt whatsoever that in the coming years, we can make this list as exhaustive as possible to include Cosmetic Surgery, Dental Care, Gender Realignment, Heart Surgery, Obesity Surgery, Oncology and Orthopedics, Organ Transplants, Cardiovascular Surgery, Stem Cell Transplants and allied high end procedures.

Of course, this transformation will call for substantial investments by the value chain of industry players. Among the critical steps would be:

• Accreditation from organizations to facilitate hospital or clinic selection
• Collaboration with global players to create worldwide brand identity
• Packaging follow-up care and coverage for medical tourists
• Initiating potent forums and platforms for doctor-patient interaction
• Value chain of clinics, organizations, institutes and experts to serve the larger cause

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