India’s medical tourism market is expected to grow exponentially, becoming an attractive destination for medical tourists by offering cost-effective quality healthcare
As healthcare is becoming costlier in developed countries around the globe, India plays an important role in providing quality healthcare at a low cost. India’s medical tourism market is expected to grow from present $3 billion to around $8 billion by 2020. According to the CII – Grant Thornton white paper, cost is a major driver for nearly 80% of medical tourists across the globe.
The cost factor and accredited facilities in Singapore, Thailand, India, Malaysia, Taiwan, Mexico and Costa Rica makes them a destination of choice for the medical tourists. Bangladesh and Afghanistan dominate the Indian Medical Value Travel (MVT) with 34% share. Africa, GCC & CIS Regions (whose current share is just 30%) present the maximum possible opportunity for the Indian healthcare sector. Medical tourists from these sectors currently favour the South East Asian medical corridors. Chennai, Mumbai, Andhra Pradesh and NCR are the most favoured medical tourism destinations for the medical tourists in India. India, one of world’s fastest growing markets for medical tourism, is becoming more popular among Russians seeking better and cheaper options for treatment which is either not available in Russia or requires a long wait. Asian countries are seriously challenging Europe, US and Israel as attractive destinations for medical tourists: people who travel across international borders to obtain healthcare. India, Thailand and Singapore are three countries in Asia that receive the maximum number of medical tourists, because of the quality of healthcare infrastructure and the availability of highly skilled doctors, as well as lower cost of treatment.
India hosts thousands of medical tourists from the US, Canada, Australia and the UK, as well as from African Countries and Asian neighbours like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and China yearly. According to ASSOCHAM, in 2011 India saw 850,000 medical tourists and by the end of 2015 this number may rise to 3.2 million. The Indian medical tourism market is expected to expand at a CAGR of 27% to reach $3.9 billion in 2014, from $1.9 billion in 2011, according to the “Medical Value Travel” in India report by KPMG and FICCI. Globally, the medical value travel industry is estimated at $10.5 billion and is expected to grow to $32.5 billion over the next five years at CAGR of 17.9%.
Comparison with Russia
Despite Russia being known in India particularly for the quality of its medical education – consider that eight out of ten Indian students in Russia are enrolled in medicine or dentistry courses – there are multiple factors that make Russian patients seek better healthcare options abroad and more recently, in India too.
The Indian healthcare sector amounted for $78.6 billion in 2012 and is expected to reach approximately $158.2 billion by 2017, according to KPMG. The Russian healthcare sector in the same period, according to PWC, stood at $86 billion. The difference between the two countries is that while in India the healthcare industry has, since 1990s, emerged as a huge segment with dynamic private sector involvement, in Russia it has been dominated by only the government for about 100 years. Today more than 60% of the Russian healthcare market belongs to the government sector, although the share of private healthcare is growing rapidly.
Russian industry analysts stress that, despite Russian doctors being highly qualified, they are not enough, thus leaving smaller regional medical centres poorly staffed and equipped. Misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis and medical errors are common in the Russian healthcare system as bureaucratic hurdles abound and long queues of people wait for prescribed treatment and quotas for free treatment. Patients, especially children and elderly people, are often considered non–responsive to treatment and are thus denied medical services. Outside Russia, they get medical help in most cases.
India has all the possible ingredients to be an attractive medical tourism destination viz.
- World renowned Indian doctors ( specialists and super specialists ).
- Highly skilled nurses and paramedics.
- World class hospitals with state–of–the-art infrastructure and medical equipment.
- No language barrier. English being the preferred language used in all hospitals of India. Besides that, there is availability of language interpreters in all Indian hospitals.
- Excellent Indian hospitality.
- Low medical treatment cost.
- Low pre and post treatment and stay cost.
Dilip Kumar Chopra is the Director with Gurdasmal Hospitality& Consultancy Services Pvt Ltd, Noida