India is emerging as to one of the leading nations among the popular medical tourism destinations globally. This is mostly because of two primary reasons, one the highly affordable cost of medical treatment and secondly, the quality of medical service and expertise available at the specialised hospitals at a highly competitive price. Medical tourists from abroad prefer to access cancer care hospitals that are driven by the positive outcome from highly experienced oncologists followed by consistent access to the latest technology in cancer care.
The high-quality medical proficiency and advanced technology invested by cancer hospitals in India help diagnose, treat and allow early control of diseases. India is now home to a team of specialised oncologists, state-of-the-art infrastructure with the latest equipment and technology like Live Virtual Tumor Board, VitalBeam, Radixact, CyberKnife, True Beam and genomic-based tests for cancer prevention, diagnostics and targeted therapy for cancer genomics.
International patients especially those coming from the US and UK have seen Indian oncologists practising in their hospitals and believe that they can have access to a more significant number of Indian doctors with extensive treatment plans in India at a pocket-friendly price. Hence, this makes many patients visit India for better treatment. Cancer care in India is on par with global standards and can be accessed at one-tenth the cost. Despite this, people from Southeast Asia visit Singapore for cancer treatment eventually paying eight times higher than they would in India. Apart from the low costs for cancer treatment, foreign medical tourists look at the outcome of treatment before deciding on a location. People also tend to choose a location for treatment that is closest to their residing country. For instance, the HCG Bengaluru centre sees a lot of foreign medical tourists coming from the middle-east, as the city has good connectivity and hence draws a large number of patients from that geography.
The efficient use of information technology in Cancer care in India has paved way for a paradigm shift in patient management and interface especially in the areas of telemedicine, electronic medical records, and system driven drug delivery and dispensing systems. This has helped in bringing a huge change in the prevention of medical errors hence saving lives and costs. Top-of-the-line diagnostics and imaging services have made a significant impact in clinical projections that are aiding doctors in providing an accurate and quicker turnaround. State-of art-technology like True Beam and Cyberknife for cancer treatment has made a significant difference in treatment with a high level of accuracy that involves little-to-no pain and also ensures quick recovery.
As per media reports it is estimated that India’s medical tourism industry is expected to be worth $9 billion by the year 2020. Every hospital in the country is now well equipped with qualified doctors who have global exposure. This led India to receive maximum of its International medical tourists from USA, UK, UAE, Nepal, Sri-Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives and Mauritius. Bangladesh and Afghanistan are the top two countries from where the maximum number of medical tourists arrived in 2017. Around 2.2 lakh tourists from Bangladesh and 56,000 from Afghanistan visited India for medical purposes.
India is on its way to become the destination of choice for medical tourism. India needs to realise that to fulfil its vision of being ‘the provider to the world’ by delivering quality care at affordable cost, integrated effort by all key stakeholders including the government, health & tourism industry, service providers, facilitators, and regulators is a must.