India is witnessing a significant increase in patients from the developed countries and is now ranked second in medical tourism market after Thailand. The hospitals in India have treated 4.5 lakh patients compared to Thailand's 12 lakh cases over the last two years.
The country's medical expertise and infrastructure together with international certifications like JCI (Joint Commission International) have been able to able to attract an increasing number of patients from the developed countries besides those in the South and East Asia region.
Factors driving this growth are capable medical personnel and quality care being provided at its advanced hospitals. Notables ones include Apollo Group, Fortis, Escorts, Manipal, Wockhardt, Columbia Asia to name a few who are offering their expertise in treating foreign patients.
Deloitte study carried over a two-year period reveals that there has been a quantum leap in the inflow of patients from the neighbouring countries and West Asia but now there is significant rise in patients from US, UK and Europe.
In the case of Thailand, its hospitals are known to offer cosmetic surgery and scores of foreign patients access the region for the same. However, India is looked upon for its expertise in heart care, neurology and orthopaedic treatment destinations, stated COO, Manipal Hospital and Group Director, Medical Services, Manipal Health Systems.
The long patient waiting list especially in the United Kingdom and Europe are driving the patients to India, stated Vishal Bali, CEO, Wockhardt Hospitals.
Treatment cost is lowest in India and it is 20 percent of the average cost incurred in the US. In Singapore, Thailand and South Africa it is 30 per cent of the US cost. Medical tourism showcases the potential of Indian healthcare sector to the world which dreaded India for incidence of AIDS, TB, cancer, malaria and diabetes, according to the Deloitte report.
The per capital healthcare expenditure in Korea is $720 against India's $94. Unlike India some Asian countries have initiated innovative steps to explore medical tourism potential. Singapore has formed a collaboration of industry and government representatives to create a medical hub. Taiwan has a dedicated $318 million project to develop medical services. Korea medical tourism promotion policy plans new institutions for international patients.
The healthcare sector is only one industry which will remain insulated in the wake of the current economic gloom and therefore the government needs to provide the much-needed support to this medical care industry, stated Dr C Prathap Reddy, chairman, Apollo Hospitals.
India has the potential to become the preferred global destination for quality healthcare. The country is highly cost effective for patients in the US. There is a shorter waiting period for treatment compared to the UK medical centres. The developing world which has no specialty hospitals can have its patients access the centres in India, added Dr Reddy.