The worldwide scenario of healthcare is rapidly evolving and has been catalysed by factors like emerging technologies, varying economic and demographic trends, and a new age of healthcare consumerism. This evolution in healthcare has resulted in cross-country and cross-industry convergence giving a boost to the worldwide medical tourism market.
Medical value travel can potentially help achieve universal health coverage (UHC) by providing access to healthcare services that may not be available in a patient’s home country resulting in better health outcomes. MVT has become more popular in recent years as patients seek access to high-quality healthcare services at a lower cost and it also helps in reducing the burden on the healthcare systems in a patient’s home country. The global medical value travel market size is in the range of $ 60-80 Billion and some 14 million people travel across the borders for medical tourism.
Medical value travel (MVT) involves a variety of stakeholders who play important roles in ensuring the safety and quality of medical treatment for patients who travel abroad for their healthcare needs.
Stakeholders of medical value travel ecosystem
Stakeholders play a vital role in MVT by bringing unique resources and expertise to the process. They also influence the quality and safety of the medical services provided to patients undergoing MVT.
- Patients are the primary stakeholders in MVT as they seek medical treatment in another country.
- Healthcare providers offering services to medical travelers have an essential role in ensuring the safety and quality of medical procedures. They must adhere to the standards and guidelines set by regulatory bodies.
- Payers play a significant role by covering or partially covering the cost of medical treatment and travel expenses. Payers can be the government of the source country which funds the treatment of its citizens abroad, an employer organization funding its employees, or insurance companies providing cross-border financial protection to patients.
- Facilitators assist the patients with the logistics of traveling abroad for medical treatment, thereby ensuring that the entire process is seamless, cost-effective, and safe.
- Regulatory authorities, such as government agencies or medical boards, have a responsibility to ensure that healthcare providers offering services to medical travelers meet certain quality and safety standards.
- Governments can promote MVT by developing policies and regulations that support the growth and development of the industry.
Role of partnerships among stakeholders
Partnerships between stakeholders of Medical Value Travel can play an important role in supporting the growth and success of the industry. Partnerships are important in MVT more than ever because they can help to increase the affordability, accessibility, and quality of medical care for patients.
These collaborations can result in value creation for patients and provide a 360-degree experience by addressing the various aspects of a patient’s journey. Leading Hospital Chains of India like Apollo and Fortis have already established International Patient Assistance Centers in several countries, partnering with local medical professionals, travel agencies, diplomatic missions, and wellness tourism agencies to create a seamless experience for medical tourists.
Here are some ways in which collaborations among stakeholders can achieve this:
- Seamless coordination: Healthcare providers, travel agencies, and other stakeholders can work together to ensure that patients have a seamless experience throughout their medical journey. This can involve coordinating medical consultations, arranging for necessary tests and procedures, and providing post-treatment follow-up care.
- Customized travel packages: Travel agencies can work with healthcare providers to create customized travel packages that meet the unique needs of patients.
Role of partnerships in MVT
- Language and cultural support: Healthcare providers and travel agencies can provide language and cultural support to patients to help them navigate the local culture in a foreign country. This can include providing translation services, cultural training, and other support to ensure that patients feel comfortable and confident throughout their medical journey.
- Patient-centric care: Healthcare providers can work with patients to develop personalized treatment plans that meet their specific needs and preferences. This can involve taking into account the patient’s medical history, cultural background, and other factors that may impact their care.
- Quality of care: Healthcare providers and regulatory authorities can work together to ensure that patients receive high-quality care throughout their medical journey. This can involve ensuring that healthcare providers are properly licensed and accredited.
- Follow-up care: Healthcare providers can work with patients to ensure that they have access to follow-up care once they return to their home country. This can involve coordinating with local healthcare providers to ensure that patients receive the necessary care and support.
Potential avenues of collaboration
These collaborations can take different forms, depending on the specific needs and goals of patients and stakeholders. Here are some examples of potential collaborations:
- Cross-border collaborations: Stakeholders in different countries can collaborate to promote medical value travel across borders through partnerships between healthcare providers, travel agencies, and other stakeholders.
- Industry associations: Industry associations can provide a forum for stakeholders to exchange ideas, share best practices, and develop strategies to promote the industry’s growth.
By working together to create a supportive environment for medical value travel, stakeholders can ensure that patients have access to high-quality care and support and that the industry continues to grow and thrive.
Medical value travel in India
India is one of the countries witnessing a major boom in Medical Value Travel. India’s high-end healthcare system is on par with the greatest in the world. Complex surgical treatments are performed in a world-class global hospital by renowned medical professionals at a fraction of the expense that would ordinarily be required in other nations. India has also become a favored destination for Yoga and Wellness with its focus on traditional therapies through AYUSH. The number of international patients increased from 0.43 million in 2016 to 0.7 million in 2019 with an estimated market size in the range of $ 5-6 Billion for 2019.
For India, a robust public-private partnership has played an important role in pushing forward the government’s national strategy and roadmap for medical value travel.
100% foreign direct investment in medical infrastructure and fiscal incentives for businesses involved in the medical service export sector are a few of the critical interventions by the Government of India to boost the MVT sector.
To integrate all the relevant stakeholders (Hospitals, Facilitators, lodging facilities, etc), the Government of India is building a one-stop digital portal that will also enable end-to-end monitoring of patient’s journeys starting from visa assistance, and treatment in India, to post-procedure care. This will ensure the smooth functioning of the whole ecosystem resulting in a hassle-free journey for international patients.
Blueprint for the future of medical value travel
At the global level, along with the existing MoUs between Government to Government, Government to Hospitals, and Government to Facilitators, other potential avenues for enhancing collaboration among stakeholders can be:
- Establishing international networks: Healthcare providers, travel agencies, and other stakeholders can establish international networks to share knowledge, exchange best practices, and collaborate on research and development projects. This can involve partnering with organizations in different countries to share information and expertise.
- Investing in technology: Investing in technology can help enhance global collaboration among stakeholders in the medical value travel ecosystem. This can involve using digital platforms to facilitate communication and collaboration between stakeholders, as well as developing new technologies that improve patient care and support.
The need of the hour is to forge a unique blueprint for the future of medical tourism through well-directed efforts at effective collaboration. The promotion of seamless relationships between patients, and providers across borders relies on hassle-free e-visas, medical technology, knowledge exchange, insurance packages incentivizing medical travel, and ease of travel.
The success of MVT depends on the ability of the world to coordinate its efforts to realize the Sustainable Development Goal of safeguarding everyone’s health and well-being. Invest India