Health and Hospitality

We highlight how a few institutes are catering to international patients

Medical tourism

1. Columbia Asia had nearly 8,000 new international patient registrations in 2016-2017.


Columbia Asia Hospitals receives patients from GCC region comprising of Oman, Yemen, the UAE and Saudi Arabia, from Iraq, East African Countries like Kenya, Ethiopia and Tanzania and West African Countries like Nigeria and Congo as well as from SAARC countries like Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Maldives, and Sri Lanka. It also gets patients from CIS nations, mostly Uzbekistan. While Oman and Iraq have traditionally been the key contributing geographies, in the recent times it has seen a steady rise from Yemen and Sudan. It has also initiated outreach to prominent geographies in Africa like Kenya where it now has its presence as Columbia Africa Clinic. The hospital had nearly 8,000 new international patient registrations in 2016-2017. There were more than 1,000 admissions of international patients. The patients come for treatment of diverse medical needs ranging from general surgeries, joint replacements, spine and neurosurgery to complex tertiary care procedures like paediatric cardiac surgeries, organ transplants (kidney and liver) and others.

2. Columbia Asia caters to cuisines from different parts of the world.

Says Jasdeep Singh, COO, Columbia Asia, “We take pride in the fact that our attention to the varied food needs of people using our facilities has earned us a special place into patients’ hearts. We cater to cuisines from different parts of the world and our well trained chefs custom-make food as per the needs of the international patients. This is a unique feature at Columbia Asia which has helped us attract patients from various geographies.” To ensure customisation, a dedicated international patients team assists the patients and their attendants with stay options across the city. The group has tie-ups with hotels, guest houses and serviced apartments near the hospitals for the attendants and patients to choose from basis their budget.

Some of the other steps that are taken so that the patient and the attendant’s needs are met seamlessly include:

  • Consultations through video conference or teleconference.
  • Comprehensive medical opinions prior to arrival so that expectations of the patient and attendants are met.
  • Tailor-made packages that takes care of the patient’s needs in India before, during and post treatment.
  • Visa assistance, airport transfers and currency exchange.
  • Dedicated international patients team for assistance as the single point of contact.
  • Interpreters services in six languages.
  • Customised food options within their dietary needs.
  • Aftercare services: Follow up with the treating doctors.
  • Assistance for wellness and Ayurveda treatment bookings in India.
  • Assistance for sight-seeing and travel in India after treatment.
  • Dedicated fulltime translators for providing assistance to patients.
  • In-room customised TV channels.
  • Special benefits/ discounts to corporate members and Government officials.Several other initiatives are in the pipeline. It has recently launched a telehealth initiative with overseas partners whereby it has started six telemedicine (online consultations) centres in geographies like Iraq, Bangladesh, Kenya and Oman. “We have also partnered with reputed diagnostic centres in Uganda, Kenya, Indonesia, France and US for tele-radiology services. We provide reporting and vocational support to our clients through our proprietary TeleHealth platform whereby all Columbia Asia units across four countries are connected with each other to provide seamless and instant reporting on several modalities like PET Scan, MRI, CT Scan, Ultrasound and other radiological modalities,” Singh added.

3. FMRI gets most of its MVT patients from the Middle East and African countries

Gurgaon's Fortis Memorial Research Institute gets most of its international patients from the Middle East and African countries. It gets around approximately 12,000 new patients every year. The hospital has a robust weekly rotational menu which the patient/ attendant can choose from. Says Simmardeep Singh Gill, zonal director, Fortis Healthcare, “Multi-national cuisine helps cater to varied palates. F&B services are complimentary to both patients and attendants. Other than the in-room dining, we have multiple food outlets in the premises for the patients and attendants such as ‘Tummy Luck’ the food court, Costa Coffee, Mind Café restaurant among others.”
When an international patient is admitted, one attendant can stay with the patient throughout. For stay within India, it has tied up with a leading hotel aggregator for choice of accommodations starting as little as $10 per night. These include accommodations with kitchenettes.

4. FMRI has process detailing handling international patients from query management till they reach home.

FMRI has process detailing for handling international patients from query management till they reach home post discharge. This enables service continuity across the patient experience with the hospital. Some elements of hospitality services are video consults both pre and post travel to India, complimentary pick and drop from airport, welcome kits with hospital instructions and phone numbers in common foreign languages, feedback forms also in common languages, lounge for international patients catering as a one stop shop for all their requirements, free Wifi in both OPD and IPD. “FMRI takes care of the wellbeing of the attendants as well with its multiple restaurants, food court, retails outlets and a mini-movie theatre,” says Singh.

5. Sterling Group has tie ups with various local hotels.

The hospitals has planned activities both for the patient and their attendants for the coming year.

STERLING HOSPITALS The group gets most of its no of international patients from East African counties like Kenya, TZ, Rawanda and Ethiopia. It gets around 250 IP and 600 OPD patients every year.

Says Rajiv Sharma, group CEO & MD, Sterling Addlife India Pvt. Ltd, “We offer special, deluxe and suit and exe-suit room for patients and their attendants. We also have tie ups with local hotels.”

Assistance provided by the hospital for the MVT patients include:-
• Assistance in acquiring medical visa.
• Free airport transfer service.
• Flight arrangements and extensions.
• Scheduling of all medical appointments.
• Payment through credit cards and foreign currency.
• Providing news and information to patient’s relatives back home.
• Foreign exchange.
• Insurance services.
• Provision for language interpreters if required.
• Special dietary needs.
• Wi-fi access.
• Dedicated team for in and out-house co-ordination.
• To arrange tour on request of patient and attendants.
• Assistance in acquiring SIM card.

Jasdeep Singh

Simmardeep Singh Gill

Rajiv Sharma