Medical tourism: Trends, drivers and growth potential in India

Medical tourism -

August 23, 2023

Medical tourism is a growing industry worldwide, with many countries becoming popular destinations for healthcare seekers. India has become a significant player in this field, offering affordable, high-quality healthcare services to patients from around the world. Patients worldwide have started looking for options beyond their home countries to avail medical treatments for various reasons like cost-effectiveness, availability of modern technology, specialized treatments, etc. One such destination has emerged as a hub for medical tourism in India. With world-class medical infrastructure and skilled medical professionals, India has become a preferred destination for medical tourists from across the globe.

India has emerged as a hub for medical tourism due to its low-cost treatments and state-of-the-art medical facilities. The country has 38 hospitals accredited by the Joint Commission International (JCI), ensuring they meet international patient care and safety standards. Additionally, many hospitals in India are accredited by the National Accreditation Board for Hospitals and Healthcare Providers (NABH) and offer alternative medical services such as Ayurveda, Yoga, and Meditation.

However, the Covid-19 pandemic has caused a negative growth rate of 79.4% in the medical tourism industry in India in the year 2020. But, as the world recovers from the pandemic, the medical tourism market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 19% for the period 2022-2032, with a global market forecast of more than $285 billion.

One of the key problems medical tourism faces is the availability of appropriate treatments in the source country. Patients often seek medical treatments abroad due to the unavailability of certain procedures or advanced technology in their home country. However, some source countries may offer low-quality care, which can harm the patient’s health. In contrast, the absence of modern technology can result in delays in availing services. Additionally, loans can pose a financial burden on patients.

In destination countries, medical tourists face problems such as transportation, food, and accommodation. Moreover, language barriers and insurance can also cause difficulties. Flights can be costly, adding to the overall cost of medical tourism.

To address these problems, India needs to provide full-time medical tourism services that cater to the needs of patients. It should also focus on alternative medical services such as Ayurveda, Yoga, and Meditation. India can offer services such as cosmetic and non-elective surgeries such as heart bypass and knee replacements. Moreover, it can provide discounted packages that include flights, hotels, hospitals, cars, insurance, and healthcare blogs.

India’s advantage over its competitors lies in its niche marketing, offering alternative medicine, being the least costly, and providing excellent customer service. It can focus on countries that require wellness tourism, alternative systems of medicine, cosmetic surgery, and advanced life-saving healthcare. Additionally, it can target spas, stress relief, rejuvenation centers, and Ayurvedic Siddha treatment for diseases such as arthritis and rheumatism. Dental care, plastic surgery, breast enhancement, tummy reduction, skin treatment, open transplants, cardiovascular surgery, eye treatment, hip replacement, and in vitro fertilization are other treatments that can be offered.

India can focus on geographical areas and demographics, targeting patients between the ages of 36 to 65. Marketing strategies can include social media, word of mouth, travel agencies, email marketing, media, PR, and YouTube videos. India can also provide pre-arrival and on-arrival services and post-treatment follow-ups to ensure patient satisfaction.

Advantages of Medical Tourism in India:

1. Cost-effective: Medical treatments in India are comparatively cheaper than in many countries worldwide, making it a popular choice for medical tourists. Even after including the cost of travel and accommodation, medical tourists can still save up to 60-80% of the cost of treatment in India.

2. Quality Healthcare: India’s healthcare system is known for its high standards of medical care. Many hospitals in India have state-of-the-art technology and facilities that cater to international standards. India’s doctors and medical staff are well-trained and experienced, providing quality healthcare to patients.

3. Availability of Specialized Treatments: India offers a wide range of specialized medical treatments that may not be available in other countries. The country has emerged as a hub for medical treatments like heart surgeries, organ transplants, cosmetic surgeries, infertility treatments, and more.

4. Minimal Waiting Periods: In many countries, patients have to wait for a long time to avail of medical treatments due to long waiting lists. In India, medical tourists can avail of treatments without waiting, saving valuable time.

5. Tourist Destination: India’s rich cultural heritage, diverse geography, and friendly people make it a popular tourist destination. Medical tourists can explore the country while availing of medical treatments, making it a unique experience.

India has the potential to become a leader in the medical tourism industry, offering affordable, high-quality healthcare services to patients from around the world. However, it must address the key problems and provide solutions to attract more medical tourists. By adopting a niche marketing approach, providing alternative medicine, and offering excellent customer service, India can achieve its vision of becoming the most trusted and affordable healthcare provider of high quality.

-By Vishal Priyadarshi