India currently shares 19% of the global medical tourism market. According to Ministry of Tourism’s worked out analysis, medical tourism in India has the potential to cross the $ 9.5 Billion-mark, leading to 21% of the world market share by 2020 but due to COVID we are now examining the Overall share of the global mark only with new COVID19 policies including air bubbles and service support discounts etc.
India is now considered as one of Asia’s fastest growing medical tourism hub. Specialized healthcare professionals, state of the art facilities, high quality medical training, cost competitiveness and the rise of holistic and alternate healing practices developed from AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha , Homeopathy & Sowa Rigpa ) have given rise to India’s position in the global medical tourism industry. Low living costs, ease of communication and a strong pharmaceutical footprint have also been key catalysts of this evolution. There is an increasing number of patients from South Asian countries, the Middle East and Africa who visit India for healthcare needs such as cancer treatments, transplants and cardiac surgeries. According to a report by FICCI over 500,000 foreign patients come to India for the treatment in India each year.
Ministry of Tourism has taken various steps to boost medical tourism in the country, like relaxing the e-visa norms for medical visits. The Government announced and have augmented e-tourist visas in 2014 to ease the visa procedures in the country, following which 'Medical and Medical Attendant Visa' was introduced for medical tourists. The medical visa offers multiple entry and long term stay for medical care. Further, the Government is actively ensuring the accreditation for wellness centres and Medical Value Travel (MVT) facilitators. In an effort to boost the capacity of qualified health professionals and promote affordable medical education, the Union cabinet recently approved the establishment of 75 plus new medical colleges in the country, which shall have a cascading affect to the addition of over 15,000 plus MBBS seats in India.
In addition, the rise of medical tourism in India can also be significantly attributed to the development of the Personal Set up & Private health support system. Neoliberal policies have paved the way for the rapid privatization of the medical care ecosystem in India, with competent privately-owned hospitals, medical education and institutions increasing their presence across the country. The country’s top private hospitals are seeking international accreditations and formulating strategic partnerships with global agencies to instil a sense of confidence amongst foreign patients to undergo medical treatments in relatively unfamiliar settings.
The growth of this segment has not only contributed towards a high revenue upsurge for the medical sector, but also to that of hotels, restaurants and tourist hot spots. This leads to the opportunities of medical tourism in India also extend to the financers of health services, marketers of medical tourism and foreign investors to invest in Indian medical infrastructure and multi-specialty hospitals.
The international medical tourism market is slated to emerge significantly in the next few years, which implies a stronger competition among destinations for compatible healthcare services, strategic marketing packages and more sophisticated implementation of information technology in the healthcare and tourism space with telehealth. The interconnections (political, economic, social and technological) in international medical tourism hubs have allowed for new opportunities in health care delivery and regulation. Some of these developments include supportive regulatory regimes (example), safety policies, recognition of transnational disease patterns & systems and successful inter supportive policies with sectors like aviation to enable factors like low-cost airfares , Air ambulance regulations to cater to growing patient mobility & Services .
Altogether India’s insistent strides in this industry, it shall have to plan in a way where the skills and cost advantage with adequate medical infrastructure and availability of specialists to compete with prime international tourism destinations such as Singapore, Costa Rica and Cuba.