The Government of India’s policy to expand the scope of e-tourist visas, and include short term medical needs, is expected to give a fillip to the medical tourism sector in the country. “This is indeed a welcome move. Medical tourism is an inherent strength of our country and our healthcare system. The country is at the unique cusp of cost effectiveness with cutting edge expertise. India attracts over a million patients every year from over 121 countries and we have the most inflow from the Middle East, Africa and South Asia. But this is the tip of the iceberg; India can serve millions more who are keen to be treated in our nation,” said Dr K Hari Prasad, president – hospitals division, Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Ltd, in a statement.
At present India’s medical tourism is estimated at about $ 3 billion, which is a miniscule share as compared to the global market pegged at $ 17 billion. Progressive changes in policies coupled with regulatory changes will ensure easy travel and will bring down this disparity between Indian and global medical value travel market. This will help companies in the Indian healthcare industry to capitalise on the opportunity that the sector offers. “India which has already been attracting patients for care, will emerge as a destination of choice due to more liberal e-visa policy. The step will boost our commitment to make India the ‘Healthcare destination for all’,” added Dr Hari Prasad.
Estimates show that medical procedures in India allows patient to save about 65-90 percent as compared to cost of certain procedures in the US. For instance, a heart bypass surgery, which costs about $130,000 in the US, will cost the patient just about $7,000 in India.
He stated, “Over the years we have seen many patients travel to India for medical treatment and majority of travellers choose India for solid organ transplants (liver, kidney, pancreas, heart, lung, and intestine), treatment and management of cancer and cardiovascular diseases, excellence in orthopaedics (joint and spine; sports medicine) and neurosurgery. Reproductive (fertility, IVF, women’s health) treatment, weight loss (LAP-BAND, gastric bypass) surgeries along cosmetic surgery and dentistry (general, restorative, and cosmetic) have also started attracting patients recently. With government’s positive outlook to ease certain policies, India will soon shine as a desired destination for excellent medical care.”