Medical tourism, also called medical travel or health tourism refers to the rapidly-growing practice of travelling across international borders to seek healthcare services. Of late, India has seen a meteoric rise in medical tourists coming to the country for services that are both elective procedures as well as complex surgeries. There are certain factors responsible for this phenomenon, giving India an edge other countries when it comes to medical tourism. Some of them are:
1. Indian doctors are in demand the world over. Their intelligence quotient, hard working nature and determination make them stand apart. Many of these doctors have trained and garnered experience in some of the best medical institutions around the world and returned to India. Therefore, not only are they well trained but also understand the medical processes across the globe.
2. The increasing expenditure on medical infrastructure has led to many new hospitals, nursing homes etc which purchased the latest, state of the art, new age medical equipment from international conglomerates. Therefore, technology that is not yet available at some premier medical institutes in developed nations is available in India.
3. Even in terms of the field of nursing, Indian nurses have made their mark and are considered amongst the best in the world. There are about a 1000 recognized nurse – training centers in the country, attached to teaching hospitals and approximately 10,000 nurses graduate annually.
4. The cost of health care in India, especially for uninsured patients from the Americas or Europe is substantially low in comparison. Even the most budget conscious traveler from these continents can afford a first rate, luxury service in India.
According to recent reports, cost of treatment in India is almost one-tenth of comparable treatment in USA or Britain. This is the single-biggest factor which draws a lot of people from these countries. Alternative medicine, bone-marrow transplant, cardiac bypass, eye surgery and hip replacement are some of the most popular treatments sought in India by medical tourists.
Chennai, India’s health capital has scores of multi and super specialty hospitals that attract an estimated 150 international patients daily. It attracts about 45% of international health tourists and 30% to 40% of domestic health tourists, mostly since the costs of living here are much lower than other Indian metros. Add to this, very little or no waiting period. The city boasts of an estimated 12,500 hospital beds, of which only half serve the city’s population with the rest being shared by patients from other states of the country and foreigners.
Medical tourism, as a sector, has seen tremendous growth in India and seems to be unstoppable. As medical treatment costs in the West go through the roof – with the United States leading the way – more and more Westerners are resorting to the lucrative option of getting treated in India. According to an estimate, one and a half lakh patients in the West travel to India for low-priced healthcare procedures every year.
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