Ayush boosting Wellness Tourism in India

Reviving traditional medicine system, such as Ayush, has helped boost India’s medical tourism market in comparison to western nations, surviving only on modern medicinal system, health experts said here on Sunday.

Observing that despite many recent policy changes, such as demonetisation and GST, the flow of foreign patients in India is increasing, the experts said the major reason for this is alternative medical solutions such as Ayush (Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy) which is available only in India.

South Asian Medical Tourism Market growing

Thailand can emerge as the region’s top medical tourism hotspot, as the country attracts 550,000 Asean medical tourists yearly, according to Gernot Ringling, managing director of the trade fair organiser Messe Dusseldorf Asia. “Across the region, medical tourism is on the rise with more than 3.5 million consumers arriving in Southeast Asia annually. “Globally, the medical tourism market is expanding by up to 25 per cent each year and is worth more than US$55 billion (Bt1.8 trillion) annually.
“Out of the more than 11 million global medical consumers, nearly a third travel to Southeast Asia,” said Ringling. As Southeast Asia’s public and private health systems are increasingly embracing and funding technology enabled care to follow their European and North American counterparts, advanced technologies that can deliver scalable, efficient and highquality care are becoming increasingly popular in the region.
For instance, the increasing use of robotic surgery, 3D printing, implantable devices, use of automation and artificial intelligence in clinical settings, and other digital innovations for prevention, monitoring and treatment are among the hottest products and solutions and trends across Southeast Asia.

India to capitalise on Singapore’ns Medical Tourism slowing Down

THE GROWTH of medical tourism in Singapore is expected to slow down amid stiffer regional competition, especially from the Malaysian healthcare market, according to investment bank UOB Kay Hian.

The softer outlook in Singapore comes amid a decline in growth of foreign-patient numbers. This, in turn, is expected to take a toll on growth in revenue. Foreigners made up 40 per cent of IHH Healthcare’s business in Singapore in 2013, but this fell to 30 per cent last year. Its quarterly revenue growth in the same period has also declined from an average of 5 per cent year on year between 2013 and 2014 to between 1 and 2 per cent year on year from 2015 to 2016.
With the sector’s stronger showing in Malaysia, UOB Kay Hian analysts singled out Health Management International (HMI) as a top pick with strong growth prospects. The firm is behind Regency Specialist Hospital in Johor and Mahkota Medical Centre in Melaka. The positive outlook in Malaysia has been “bolstered by favourable government initiatives, geographical proximity and cultural affinity to its largest market, Indonesia”, the analysts wrote.
Patients are flocking to Malaysia thanks to factors such as improvements in infrastructure and service quality, as well as the relatively lower hospital bills, they said. “Comparing private hospitals under our coverage, we note average bill sizes at HMI’s hospitals are approximately 15-30 per cent of Singapore’s. “Furthermore, a weak ringgit may also be a silver lining that can help Malaysia gain price advantage over its regional peers for medical tourism purposes.” A Maybank Kim Eng report this month noted that Singapore was the second-priciest medical-tourism destination in the world, and the most expensive in Asia. On the back of a rise in the number of medical tourists headed to Malaysia – from 643,000 in 2011 to 921,000 last year – UOB Kay Hian analysts expect Malaysian revenue intensity to climb as well. The sector is anticipated to hit its target revenue of 1.3 billion ringgit (Bt10.3 billion) this year. Meanwhile, UOB Kay Hian has reservations about near- to mid-term prospects for IHH and Raffles Medical Group (RMG), over the costs of their expansion into the Chinese market.China eyed “Besides diversifying the concentration of medical patients to include [the] Middle East as well as the Indochina regions, Singapore hospital operators have embarked on more aggressive expansion strategies, prominently in Greater China,” its analysts wrote. “While we view these expansions positively, we expect start-up costs to crimp earnings growth in the near- to mid-term.” The analysts added while IHH had “resilient operations” in Singapore, Malaysia and Turkey and new ventures in markets such as China and India, “the stock is fairly valued” and has been priced in. Similarly, a CIMB forecast for RMG last week said the cost of new hospital expansions might have been underestimated.

Iran Medical Tourism

About 105,000 tourists traveled to Iran in the last Iranian year (ended March 20) to receive medical care, the secretary of Health Tourism Strategic Council said.

Speaking to ISNA, Mohammad Ali Fayyazi added that the tourists had their paperwork processed by one of Iran’s 35 health tourism travel agencies licensed to operate in the sector.

The figure could be higher because many medical tourists either travel independently or are brought to Iran by unauthorized entities. In neither case do travelers obtain health tourism visas, which means they’re not registered as medical tourists.

“Most of the tourists came from Iraq, Azerbaijan, Armenia and the Persian Gulf littoral countries,” he said.

According to Mohammad Hossein Mirdehqan, director of Monitoring and Accreditation of Medical Services Office at the Health Ministry, a medical tourist spends between $3,600 and $7,600 on every trip.

So, by taking the average ($5,600), Iran’s revenue from medical tourism last year amounted to $588 million, slightly more than the previously reported figures.

Based on the sixth economic development plan (2017-22), Iran is projected to attract between 500,000 and 600,000 medical tourists every year. However, some officials have questioned whether this target is feasible.

Foreign Ministry officials have urged medical tourists traveling independently to Iran to apply for a visa online at http://e_visa.mfa.ir.

Iran issues visa on arrival at 10 international airports to citizens of over 180 countries. However, to develop its health tourism industry, it requires health tourists to apply for a “T Visa”, issued only to medical travelers.

Iran says it will help it with key statistics, such as where most health tourists come from and what type of service they need.

Uncooperative Hospitals

Along with halal tourism, medical tourism is a strategic focus area for Iran to develop its travel sector due to high quality yet affordable healthcare, particularly compared with that in regional countries.

Geographical proximity, hot and cold mineral springs in various parts of the country as well as low-cost and high quality health services in the fields of fertility treatment, stem cell treatment and dialysis, as well as heart, cosmetic and eye surgeries, have created new opportunities in Iran’s health tourism—a growth industry in many countries.

Some 400 hospitals are active in the field of health tourism, but only 170 have been granted permits to set up an International Patients Department.

“Unfortunately, many hospitals still admit health tourists brought to Iran by unauthorized middlemen; they seem to be more keen to work with them,” Fayyazi said, urging the Health Ministry to take measures against healthcare facilities that hurt the development of the sector.

Neglected for years, health tourism was thrust into the limelight following the election of President Hassan Rouhani in 2013.

Two years later, Health Tourism Strategic Council was formed with the representatives of health and foreign ministries, the Medical Council of the Islamic Republic of Iran and Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization to organize the country’s health tourism sector.

The council has been able to instill discipline in the sector by regulating institutions operating in this field and pave the way from the establishment of healthcare hubs in Isfahan, Tabriz and Mashhad.

Iran’s ultimate goal is to earn around $25 billion a year through tourism by 2025, around $2.5 billion of which will come from medical tourism.

Thailand’s New Medical Tourism Visa Policy

Visitors to Thailand from China and the CLMV nations (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam) seeking medical treatment are now allowed to stay for up to 90 days visa-free, Deputy Prime Ministers Tanasak Patimapragon and Admiral Narong Pipatanasai announced on Wednesday.

And visitors age 50 and up from 14 other countries can apply for long-stay visas valid for up to 10 years. Both measures are designed to fuel Thailand’s ambition to become a “medical and wellness” tourist destination and world-class medical hub. As part of the Strategic Plan to Become a Medical Hub (2017-2026), the Cabinet has approved in principle the extended permission-to-stay for citizens of 19 countries identified as potential sources of medical tourists.
The Interior Ministry announced that visa-exempt entry for hospital care for patients from the CLMV countries and China who meet certain criteria is extended to 90 days effective immediately. The same privilege – “meant to increase convenience of access to clinical care” – is also offered to as many as four people accompanying them.
Foreigners age 50 years or older from Britain, the United States, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, France, Australia, Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands, Italy, Finland, Denmark and Canada can apply for long-stay visas of up to 10 years. Permission will initially be extended for five years, and an additional five years can be added for people who meet stated criteria and conditions. The same privilege is offered to their spouse and children under 20. The ministry said the measure would “hopefully lead to the increase of country income”. The Public Health and Tourism and Sport ministries have been directed to work with relevant agencies in the public and private sectors to implement plans for developing the country’s medical-tourism capabilities.

Iran Medical Tourism

This industry provides new additional financial resources to health systems of the participating countries and also provides saving costs of health services since those countries are outsourcing in this area and present effective services to developing countries.
This study aims to define the challenges and opportunities of medical tourism industry in Iran and propose some mechanisms to make Iran prosper with this new Industry.
The potential opportunities and challenges of Iran medical tourism got through interview, this phase leaded to create the 5 point Likert scale questionnaire.
Data gathered from the questionnaires were answered by health services providers in private sector and was analyzed by MADM approach, TOPSIS method. The most important challenges Iran Medical Tourism faced by are:
– To create dual market structure in health services, non-portability of health insurances and lack of support of private sector by the government and main opportunities are increasing access to medical tourism market that resulted to increasing revenues,
– To grow private sector participation in health services and
– To decrease the number of patients who go abroad for treatment. The opportunities and challenges of this industry are different between countries and every country should enter this area with attention to its relative advantages.
Health systems are evolving and continuously faced by new challenges. Trade in health services is one of the most complex and important challenges that health systems have to respond to, and nowadays it seems to be one of the best mechanisms of financing and creating additional resources for health systems in developing countries.
In fact liberalization of trade in health services has the potential to create new challenges as well as creating new opportunities, particularly in low and middle income countries for the provision of efficient and sustainable health services.
Health services, in recent years, have become increasingly traded, because of advances in InformationTechnology, growing mobility of health services provider and customers and increased private sector participation in delivery of health services.
An increasing number of countries are competing to become key exporters of health services.
It was caused by the high cost of health care in developed countries, the steep rise in demand for health services as a result of the ageing of populations in those countries and the increasing availability of advanced health and medical services in developing countries with high quality and lower prices than in developed countries, in addition to long waiting lists for surgery in those countries.
The lack of health insurance is the most common factor for medical travel (health tourism statistics and facts).
A study indicates that key drivers for this new industry are: increased costs of health services, limited medical insurance coverage, affordable and high quality alternative options, increased facilities with international accreditation, increasing access to IT and linkages between key players of the industry and some of the geopolitical events such as incident of 11 September.
In a growing number of fields of treatment, the most cost effective option is traveling to a developing country.
Hence, the provision of world class health care services and facilities at competitive prices has opportunity for those developing countries that can do.
In fact globalization and liberalization of trade in health services has made health tourism possible and continues to flourish.
According to GATS, the most important multilateral agreement about trade in services, health tourism is the second mode of trade in health services.
In this mode customers (patients) leave their home country and go to the providers’ country to obtain health care services with high quality and affordable prices.
Health tourism according to Jabbari (2009) is divided to wellness tourism, curative tourism and medical tourism and medical tourism refers to modern medical treatment and complementary medicine.
Medical tourism is the abroad looking for available quality combined with cost effective and low price health services while offering a similar level of safety to the patient.
Medical tourism has become a US$60 billion a year business with growing rate about 20% by a year which could increase to $100 billion by 2012 (Herrick, 2007).
A projection estimates that only US patients will expend more than $40 billion for health services abroad by year 2017 (Deloitte, 2008a).
Nowadays many governments and insurance firms are to outsourcing medical services to low cost providers abroad.
Apart from the savings aspect from the patient’s perspective, medical tourism is a growing part of the global health market with countries taking on and favoring this activity as a part of their national industry and this attractive industry is open to all countries that can utilize their opportunity of outsourcing health services from developed countries with respect to their capabilities and competences. For a long time medical tourism was commonly the travel of rich patients from a less developed country to the health facilities in more developed countries that had advanced medical facilities to obtain better treatment.
But today the worldwide market place for health and medical care has changed and medical tourists go in both directions, from rich and poor countries in a similar way and developing countries became the main destinations where high quality combined with affordable healthcare is available (Smith, 2008). After Asian economics crisis in 1990, health and medical tourism has grown in some countries (Kazemi, 2007).
Asia has become the hub of medical tourism and successful Asian countries in this mode of supply of medical services are Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, India and Jordan.
In Iran despite of its high potential for this industry focusing on low cost and high quality of healthcare services and access to Arab market (Jabbari, 2009) at present, medical tourism does not have grown well. Some hospitals and health care centers began to enter to this industry but they faced by so challenges.
Health system in Iran: The Islamic Republic of Iran is a low middle income and oil exporting country.
It is the 4th largest country of Asia and 17th largest country in the world with an area of 1,648,195 km2.
It is an ancient country located in the Middle East, a region between Asia, Europe and Africa (Mehrdad, 2009).
The country has 31 provinces, 293 districts, 885 cities and about 68000 villages and total population was estimated to be 70,000,000 in 2007 (EMRO, 2009).
The country is bordered on the East by Pakistan and Afghanistan, on the North by Turkmenistan, Armenia and Azerbaijan, as well as the Caspian Sea, on the west by Iraq and Turkey and on the south by the Persian Gulf and the sea of Oman. At present, 830 hospital provide health care services in the second and tertiary level of health system and more than 70% evaluated with first degree of health evaluation system of Iran (Jabbari, 2009).
According to last statistics of statistical center of Iran, about 120000 hospital beds and 4551 laboratories, 3042 rehabilitation centers, 2293 radiology and imaging centers and 7601 pharmacies are providing health services in Iran. Medical tourism in Iran: Medical tourism is not a new phenomenon in the world, as well as in Iran.
In the past, some people from neighbor countries especially from Arab countries of Persian Gulf came to Iran especially to Fars province to get health care services.
In this area in the country, there are no exact statistics about medical tourists who have come to the country, but some resources indicate that about 17500 patients have entered Iran in 2005.
The most popular and demanding procedures include advanced treatments in the field of cardiology and surgeries, cosmetic surgeries, fertility treatments and organ transplants (CHN news).
The main reasons of coming patients to Iran are:
– Quality of health services and low cost of treatments and drugs in comparison with other countries of the region (Middle East and Middle Asia),
– Access to advanced and new medical procedures, equipment and qualified professionals and medical staff,
– Similarity of culture and language in some regions of Iran with neighboring counties such as Iraq, Azerbaijan and lack of some medical procedures, equipment, medical professionals and health infrastructures in those countries combined with
– Natural attractions, ancient and historical buildings in famous cities of Iran (Jabbari, 2009).
Despite of these factors and existence of some legal factors such as the 4th and at present 5th program of economic, social, cultural development of Iran, medical tourism in Iran has not developed yet and some hospitals and medical and health centers individually are working in the area of importing patients from foreign countries and provide health services for them and some patients come to Iran in a traditional way. .
(Source: medwelljournals.com)
women in 40s have higher IVF success. IVF is done regularly in Iran, today.