India is well known for its monuments and scenic beauty across the globe, but what if I say that Medical tourism is also an emerging jewel for India? Like a magnet, it attracts a number of foreign patients to come and experience the medical expertise for various medical conditions. Globalisation of healthcare services has resulted in drawing the attraction of visitors not only from USA and UK, but also from Gulf region, Africa and from countries like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, etc. The medical tourism in India is growing at a rapid pace and is evident from that fact that the estimated worth of this sector was around US$3 billion in October 2015, and is projected to increase to $7–8 billion by 2020.

The most popular treatments the patients go for are cardiac bypass, bone-marrow transplant, eye surgery and hip transplant. Chennai is known as the medical hub of India while Noida and National Capital Region is in the race of becoming hotspot for the medical sector. Hospital chains like Tata, Fortis Healthcare, Apollo, Max, and Wockhardt, are equipped with latest equipment and instruments which meet standard quality, and have made a huge contribution in bringing in the foreign patients.

Apart from world class treatment and best physicians, there are few other factors as well which have resulted in increasing medical tourism. The main reason is the low cost of surgeries as compared to what it is in their native country. For example, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing, the total cost of a hip transplant is around $17,000 in the USA while its only $9,000 in India. The quality of care the patients feel here also plays a vital role in emerging medical tourism. Up-to-date medical technology is adopted by the Indian doctors and their proficiency in handling different cases builds up the trust of foreigner patients. Despite having vast diversity, knowledge of the English language has also diminished barriers and people from outside countries feel comfortable in being treated at various facilities across the country. In regions with less penetration of the foreign languages, translators are also in trend to reduce language barrier.

The factors elucidated above have helped India in increasing medical tourism which according to analysts is expected to reach USD 32.5 billion by 2019 as compared to what it was USD $10.5 billion in 2012. This sector has been growing at a rate of 15-2% per year. If the process of getting visa gets streamlined, there would be fewer problems in terms of money and waiting period, resulting in India becoming the top destination for patients to come for their treatments.

Insight by:
Megha Khandelwal
Associate Analyst