Magazine 2012
The Rise of Medical Tourism-  
a Promising Sector  
Dr. Baishakhi Dutta  
Ramniranjan Jhunjhuanwala College, Mumbai.  
Medical tourism is a growing sector in India today. It is known as the sunrise sector as it is experiencing an  
annual growth of 30% and more. Estimates have valued medical tourism to go higher by 2015. More and more  
western countries are finding India as a lucrative destination for healthcare services. The paper highlights about  
the advantages of medical tourism in India and has compared its treatment costs and standards with America,  
Britain, Malaysia, and Singapore etc.The paper also brings into picture some case studies of patients who have  
experienced such treatments and have availed of some packages. Government of India has also taken some  
concrete steps to encourage the trend and continue to upgrade its system to become the leader in medical  
tourism in the world.  
India has been the most attractive destination for the visitors around the globe. India has been one of the best  
places for medical treatment or any other health care in India. Every year streams of tourists come to India from  
all over the world just for health checkups and surgeries. The medical tourism market in India is pegged to grow  
to approx.11000crore rupees, by 2012-13.India giving stiff competition in healthcare services for overseas  
patients with cost of surgery lower by 30% and more than other A heart bypass in USA costs  
33,000 US$, whereas in India it costs only 7000 US$, in Thailand it is 22,000US$, in Malaysia it is 12,000 US$  
etc. A hip replacement operation costs 57,000US$, in Thailand it will cost 12,700 US$, in Malaysia it will work  
up to 7500 US$, whereas in India it comes to7200US$9. ( Business World Report). Medical tourism is fast  
emerging as a big opportunity for India with its low cost advantage, high quality, healthcare facilities and  
English speaking population. Medical treatment can be availed in India in collaboration with the tourism industry.  
In other words the leisure aspect of travelling may be included on a medical travel trip. This process has  
involved the corporate sector to join hands with the medical fraternity and tourism industry to evolve as a very  
big industrial sector today. India has entered into the market in a very big way showing a propelling growth and  
huge addition in the revenue of the country.  
Now the question arises why should people rush to India for treatment. The simple answer to the equation is  
that India has combination of many factors that has led to the recent increase in popularity of medical tourism  
especially in India. They include the high cost of healthcare in the advanced nations, the ease and affordability  
of travel in the world, improvement of technology and standard of care for tourists. The health care system is  
so taxed for some advanced countries that it takes considerable time to get medical attention. Medical tourists  
can come from anywhere in the world and may seek essential healthcare services ranging from cancer treatment  
to aesthetic treatments (massages, yoga, cosmetic surgeries).India has got the worldb s eminent doctors and  
hospitals where all services are provided to the patients. A number of specialty hospitals in India cater to  
patients seeking quality treatments e.g. All India Institute of medical Science, Apollo Hospitals, B.M. Birla,  
C.M.C. Vellore, and Tata Memorial Hospital etc. The tale does not end here. India in recent years has started  
using sophisticated gamma cameras, high technology scanners which have uplifted the standing of our country  
in the medical community of the world. The Indian medical tourism industry is growing at an annual rate of 30%  
catering to patients chiefly from USA, Europe, W.Asia and Africa. Although it is in its nascent stage India is  
outsmarting many other countries like Greece, Malaysia, and Singapore etc  
The factors which initiated the growth of medical tourism in India are as follows;-  
b "
b "
The most attractive factor which initiated the growth is the cost factor. The medical costs in India is one-  
tenth of the costs in western a bone marrow transplant costs 26,000US$ in India as compared  
to2, 50,000US$ in USA.  
Secondly foreign patients do not have to wait in long queues. Indian hospitals provide immediate attention  
to patients rather wait for months as in most western countries.  
b "
b "
India offers the best treatments in modern medicine in medical divisions such as eye care, cosmetic  
surgery, dental, cardiovascular etc.  
India also provides traditional methods of treatments such as Ayurveda, Homeopathy, and Naturopathy  
b "
b "
Indiab s technology has gained international recognition and is at par with the developed world.  
Foreign patients can get package deals including flights, transfers, hotels, treatments and post operative  
vacations as per their needs and demands.  
b "
Government of India has declared treating foreign patients legal. It is being encouraged as Indiab s economy  
is growing and in addition, government has cleared medical visas.  
Source: Medical Travel Commission Report.  
Medical Packages in India has become a leader in its mission. India is coming up with umpteen packages  
offered by Travel India Company, a reputed and trusted international tour operator based in Bangalore recognized  
by various hospitals and health care providers like:  
IVF Treatment provided by Adiva, New Delhi which is a godsend institution. When nature lets your down,  
Adiva steps in to bring the gift of motherhood every women dreams of. New Life New Delhi, India is also  
known to provide infertility treatment by in-vitro fertilization, egg donation and surrogacy packages.  
Comprehensive Packages like Anti-Ageing, Cancer Treatment, Plastic Surgery, Dentistry, etc. are provided  
by Artemis Health Institute, Gurgaon  
Cosmetic Surgery is provided by Centre for Laser Cosmetic Surgery, Bhupinder Nursing Home, Jalandhar  
which is committed to sculpturing and shaping body parts in a highly skillful manner.  
Cardiac Treatment is provided by BM Birla Heart Centre, Kolkata, Calcutta Medical Research Institute,  
Wockhardt Hospital, and Kothari Medical Centre all in Kolkata.  
Dental care is provided by My Dentist, Mumbai, All smiles, Bangalore for ultimate dental care and  
complete oral rehabilitation at such a fair cost which is incomparable in the world.  
Neurosurgery is another medical problem dealt aptly by Lakshmi Neuro Clinic, Chennai where world  
class treatment is available for Brain Tumors, Spiral Surgery, Parkinsonb s disease, Dystonia, Epilepsy,  
Eye Care is provided by Ahalia Foundation Eye Hospital, Kerala giving facilities on par with international  
standards and best treatments for Glaucoma, Cataract, Retinal Detachment, and Myopia etc. Shankar  
Netralaya, Chennai is another famous eye care centre in India.  
Orthopedics Surgery is provided with latest technologies in Madras Joint Replacement Centre, Chennai,  
where Knee, Hip, Shoulder Surgery is performed at affordable cost.  
Others includes Mumbai hospitals like Lilavati, Jaslok, Breach Candy, Bombay Hospital, Hinduja, Apollo  
and Wockhardt which are multi-specialty hospitals estimated to cater to 12% of all foreign patients in  
India. Gujarat is another state which has the potentiality to be the gateway of medical tourism in India. In  
2009, 4.5 lakh tourists visited Gujarat for obtaining medical care [As reported by Business Standard] and  
are expected to surpass Singapore in medical tourism.  
10) Unique Ayurvedic Clinics, Spas and Resorts based on traditional Therapeutic Treatments, Detox, and  
Alternative Medicines which are time tested and are being provided by Indus Valley Ayurvedic Centre,  
Mysore, Ahalia Ayurvedic Hospital, Palakkad, Kerala.  
The listed hospitals are ever growing and expanding in India. In 2003, the former Indian Finance Minister  
Jaswant Singh called India as the b global health destinationb . However, the biggest stumbling block preventing  
the rapid growth of India as a healthcare destination is many. Medical tourism involves risks like inadequate  
insurance coverage which do not include malpractices insurance etc. Nation like India has different infectious  
diseases which can affect people of the west as they already have weak immunity level due to medical problems.  
Travel soon after surgery can also increase the risk of complications. E.g. scars can become darker and more  
noticeable if they sunburn while healing. Long flights are bad for heart surgeries etc. Other drawbacks include  
poor infrastructure, bad quality hotels, political instability, etc. These blocks should be immediately tackled to  
build an excellent image of India.  
Bob Gallagher came to India for a cardiac ablation through The Medical Tourist Company. In UK it would have  
costed him 12000 pounds whereas in India it had costed him only 2000 pounds. When he came to India for  
checkups, the surgeons discovered a problem which was detected in UK. Today he has undergone a successful  
open heart surgery and has returned to UK thoroughly satisfied.  
b "
Paul Webster from UK went through a hip replacement operation in Chennai. He is immensely pleased  
with the assistance provided to him throughout the medical trip starting from answering queries regarding  
his operation through email, corresponding with the tourist company till operation. He has thoroughly  
enjoyed all the attention.  
b "
Peter Booth from UK has gone through a weight loss programme in Mumbai, India. He is thankful to the  
Indian government for providing a visa in only two days. He is impressed by the way his case was  
handled and taken care of. He owes a lot to the doctors of India for thorough consultation and the matter  
was sorted out for which he has been waiting for twelve months in England for investigation. He is grateful  
to the hospital for returning his money as the doctors did not operate on him. He is still in touch with the  
hospital as the treatment is still on.  
b "
Mrs. Minaxi Navsaria from UK went through an Ayurveda Treatment in Kerala for her acute joint pain. She  
was there on a wheel chair and three weeks after she came out walking with a stick. She says that the  
impact differs from person to person and one should have belief in the treatment along with a positive  
Source: CII-McKinsey Report, Ministry of Tourism Report, Indian Medical Travel Association  
The medical tourism industry is a $333 million industry and government of India is encouraging the trend and  
pace of it. Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and McKinsey have predicted that the tourism industry will grow  
more to cross $2.2 bl by 2012. To facilitate the growth of this sector in a balanced way a Task Force has been  
set up in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare together with the Ministry of Tourism and  
Government of India. This Force will evaluate the opportunities in this sector and formulate a policy for accreditation  
and classifying health services, basic infrastructures, quality selection of hospitals and doctors.  
Several hospitals in the country are seeking advantage of this booming industry and acquiring latest equipments,  
size and skills. To provide a brighter prospects for the industry the hospitals have to offer end-to-end value  
added services and tie up with tour operators, airlines and hotel chains. The hospitals can allow the foreign  
patients to pay through credit cards and ensure good treatment till they return to their countries. Government of  
India should facilitate easy processing of all matters related to the smooth functioning of the patientb s medical  
treatment till they are satisfied and carry good memories back home of our country India.  
References :-  
Bhatia, A.K, International Tourism Management, New Delhi, Sterling, 2004.  
Burkart, AJ and Medlik. S, Tourism: Past, Present and Future, London, Heinemann, 1981.  
Department of Tourism, Government of India, National Tourism Policy, New Delhi, Ashok Creations, ITDC,  
Helloway, J.C, Marketing for Tourism, Harlow, Longman, 1995.  
Kumar, A, UGC, NET Guide, New Delhi, Cosmos, Booklive, 1993.  
Seth, P.N, Successful Tourism Management, New Delhi, Sterling, 2004.  
S.N. Mishra & S.K Sadval, Basics of Tourism Management, Excel Books, New Delhi, 2008.  
K.H Iyer, Tourism Development in India, Vista Publishing House, New Delhi, 2006.  
M. Sarngadharan & G.Raju, Tourism and sustainable Economic Development, New Century Publications,  
New Delhi, 2005.  
10. T. Singh Parmar, Management of Administration of Tourism, Cyber Tech Publications, New Delhi  
1. Source: Medical Travel Commission Report.2011-2012  
2. Business World Report 2010.  
3. Indian Medical Travel Association Report.  
4. CII-McKinsey Report.  
Express Healthcare, Vol1, No.12, 2007.