There is a growing tribe of patients who are coming to India for treatment from the developed world. While Indian hospitals have had overseas patients, they have mostly been from the neighbouring countries and Africa. But now, some of the leading hospitals in the country are also seeing patients come in from Europe and the US. What’s more satisfying is that they are coming for more high-end procedures.
Some well-known medical institutions in smaller metros are also beginning to get some of the foreign patient inflow.Dr N Swamy, spokesperson for Manipal Hospital in Bangalore, said that there was a 15% increase in the number of foreign patients at the hospital and the number of enquiries from the developed markets was growing significantly.
According to Dr Anupam Sibal, group medical director at Indraprastha Apollo, the growth in medical tourists from the West is primarily due to the medical expertise the country provides. “The work done by doctors in India is recognised all over the world,” he said.
In addition, standards and infrastructure of hospitals in India are now on par with the global best practices.And then, there’s the cost.Medical costs in India could be anywhere between 1/5th and 1/10th of what it would cost in the West. In addition, hospitals are seeking accreditation by international bodies. Indraprastha Apollo is accredited by the Joint Commission International (which is the gold standard for health accreditation internationally) and Wockhardt has applied for JCH accreditation. If not an accreditation, many leading hospitals have affiliations with international bodies. The Asian Heart Institute in Mumbai is affiliated to the Cleveland Clinic, Wockhardt to Harvard Medical and Fortis Heart has consulted Massachussetts General Hospital for its protocols.
There are also softer aspects. Indian hospitality is also a big plus here. Wockhardt, for instance, assigns one staff member to co-ordinate with foreign patients as well as assist them through their stay in the country, including pick-ups from the airport. It’s one of the things that make a difference, say patients.Leading private Indian healthcare players want to take the concept further to attract more medical tourists from the West. These efforts may help in changing the perception of Indian healthcare in the West, given that its image is still an issue of concern and soon India may emerge as medical hub of the world.