The medical tourism industry – an industry that has flourished tremendously at the turn of the century, has been responsible for an increase in GDP, Tourism and Social Welfare of many developing countries. The mindset that forced people to travel to developed countries to get their non-emergency operations/surgeries and medical treatments has changed. The families of the patients are now focusing more on minimizing the medical costs and avoiding the long waiting lines for availing treatment; something that is a major problem in developed countries especially in western counties. And, this boosted the medical tourism in developing countries like India, Malaysia, etc.
The gradual, yet a considerable increase in the popularity of medical tourism make it necessary to understand its effects on the society and the landscape of the medical industry of the countries it is well-established in.
Traveling cross border for getting even the simplest of health checkups is now in trend. Though it might have been odd a few years, is now considered to be a good investment.
Medical tourism is slowly becoming a healthy contributor to the GDP of developing countries. A substantial amount of revenue that is generated every year through medical tourism not only improves the working structure of the domestic medical industry but also elevate the chances of creating new employment opportunities.
As more medical tourists visit a country, there is a rise in profit for the industries working in close quarters with the medical industry. The increase in business for companies manufacturing and producing surgical equipment and over-the-counter drugs will always be directly depended on the incoming international patients.
Apart from medical industry, travel and tourism industry is bound to reap its share of monetary benefits. When a destination country like India doesn’t require any introduction for the tourists around the world, it can always use a little more international investment. Patients tend to take out the most from their investment. When you are visiting India to get affordable medical care, it makes perfect sense to give yourself a much-needed relaxation and take time from the after-effects of the surgeries.
Social and Political
As they say, if you ask someone for a small favour, they are likely to help you with a big one in the future. When international patients travel to India, it becomes a responsibility of both nations to constantly be in contact and increase the dialogue. This increased communication between the nations solidifies the political bonds – the global development, as a result, is given a clean path to throttle on.
When the responsibility of the country is focused on the cross-border tourism, it also becomes equally important for the authorities to manage the domestic structure of the services that will be provided to the patients. As the demand for health services increases, the quality of the services should also be improved at the same time – this requires manpower and technological upgrades. The combination of these paves way for improvements in public transport, employment stats, infrastructure of the hospitals, health policies, human rights regulations, etc. For developing nations, especially the countries in South Asia experience an increase in employment rates and GDP. An all-round development of the country is accelerated.
Medical tourism may seem like an industry that is only concerned with the international patients traveling to a foreign country and getting cost effective medical services but, in fact, it has various industries coordinated together whose development is directly proportional to it. The domestic society, economy of the country, and political ties; everything enhances with Medical Tourism.
Reproductive tourism is the type of medical tourism where the patients travel to different states or countries to seek fertility treatments due to the unavailability of the treatments in their own state or country. People also opt for reproductive tourism if they think that the treatment offered in their country is not up to the mark. The most common treatments for which the patients consider reproduction tourism are in vitro fertilization and third-party reproduction.
The current lifestyle and increased stress in the youth has made infertility a very common problem amongst them. But with the technical advancement in the medical field, it has become easier to treat infertility amongst both men and women. In some cases, infertility can be treated with the help of counseling, proper diet plans, meditation etc., but the change in lifestyle is not a cure for everyone suffering from the problems. It is then when the couples think about other options like IVF and surrogacy.
Reasons, why patients suffering from infertility opt for treatments abroad, include:
Illegality of the treatments in their home country, like in European countries like Germany, Austria that term egg donation as illegal.
Lower costs of the treatment abroad, inclusive of the travel and stay cost
Better donor option in the foreign country, many people want their child to be born with specific genes and are willing to travel abroad for the same.
Some patients are not eligible for fertility treatments under law in their country. These include guys, lesbians or single person.
And most importantly, better treatment facilities abroad. Medical facilities in Middle Eastern Countries and African countries are not that well established and the lack of specialization in the countries makes it necessary for the people living there to travel abroad for having access to better medical facilities.
According to an online survey, India saw an increase of 49% in the number of patients travelling from Africa and other parts of Asia in the past two years for infertility treatment. India has gained popularity in the field of reproductive tourism because of the cheap rates of surrogacy in the country. Indian surrogacy packages are comparatively US$ 40,000 less than the cost in the US. In addition to that, the accreditation of the hospitals from Joint Commission International gives the required legal validation to the patients. Moreover, the clinics throughout India are well established and have high standards, better regulations and infertility treatments for women up to 55 and even for single people. This makes India the most preferable hub for the patients who are thinking about reproductive tourism.
Medical tourism is one of the fastest developing industries and as a convenient option for its recipients; it has already made a greater impact in the market. The significant growth of this industry – with every progressing year – has brought great economic benefit to the countries. It has been statistically proved that around 33% of the total numbers of patients that prefer to travel abroad for better medical facilities are ones that indulge in cosmetic vacations. As the name suggests, cosmetic vacations are about getting cosmetics treatments abroad.
One of the reasons behind the boom in cosmetic vacations is the latest approach of creating a perfect self image. Earlier, cosmetic surgeries was preferred by only those who had some birth defects, accident injuries or burn marks and wanted to get rid of them, but now it is the new best thing in the market and people look out for all the different treatments – be it facial rejuvenation, body contouring or breast enhancement.
Most of the patients prefer cosmetic vacations as they want to give themselves the time for recuperation and thus look forward for an extension of the medical trip where they can just relax and have fun. The primary determinants that the patients consider before opting for medical tourism include low costs, quality treatments, renowned doctors and logistics management.
The most common cosmetic surgeries that people travel abroad for include breast augmentation, Liposuction, eyelid surgery, abdominoplasty, aesthetic dental surgery which includes dental work that improves the appearance of a person’s teeth or gums.
Further, patients after undergoing a cosmetic surgery look out for time and places to rejuvenate for psychological restoration before getting back into their normal lives. Many patients opt for traditional healing therapies like meditation and yoga for their recovery, and India stands out on this. Hospitals in India not only offer better treatments at a cheaper cost but the serene locations make it a better choice for the patients looking about cosmetic surgeries abroad. The cosmetic surgeries in India became a popular choice after the European Government started charging high VAT on the surgeries. People, in order in save the extra bucks, started looking out for cosmetic vacations in India.
Other benefits that cosmetic vacation in India involves are Privacy and better technology. How?
The availability of the secluded locations for cosmetic treatments offers privacy which patients look out for and also gives them an opportunity to get accustomed to their changed look. Also, the medical advancements are a key reason; if the treatments available in the home country are not at par with the international standards then the patient definitely opts for cosmetic surgeries abroad, where they can avail high quality treatments at a affordable costs.
In an industry which was dominated by more developed countries like Malaysia, Singapore and the United States of America, India is shifting gears for good and is making its presence felt, said Rita Teaotia, Secretary, Department of Commerce, Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Government of India.
More than 70 countries and 600 buyers from Asia, UK, the US, Europe, Middle-East and even Africa will be a part of the third edition of ‘Advantage Healthcare India’ Summit, being held on October 12-14 in Bengaluru. India is being seen as a leading global healthcare destination, and the purpose of the summit is to promote the same idea and to streamline the healthcare services in the country simultaneously.
In the conference organized by FICCI, Rita Teaotia said that the changes in the healthcare framework that the government has brought in are the reasons for the success of the country as a healthcare destination.
“Last November, the Government of India brought in some changes in the visa regime which made it very easy for the foreign healthcare seekers to get visa and come to India to get affordable medical treatment,” Teaotia said. She also said that if anyone is facing problems regarding visa or in visiting India for healthcare, she will happy to rectify the issue and support them.
She also talked about the importance of the involvement of the domestic healthcare industry of the country and to examine and study the interventions that can boost the progress of the Indian healthcare sector internationally.
FICCI Secretary General, A Didar Singh, was also present and talked about the million-dollar opportunity that has presented itself. He said that to make sure that this USD 9 billion opportunity doesn’t slip out, India needs to create propositions for the foreign patients that are unsurpassed – focus on issues like clinical outcomes, accreditation of the hospitals, alternative medicine, affordability of the procedures, tourism practicality, and patient-centric approach will be important.
The purpose and design of the third edition of Advantage Healthcare India is to simply put forward the capabilities of India as a medical tourism destination and to create healthy relations with other nations to boost the current medical structure of the country.
According to a recent report released by FICCI, more than 5 lakh foreign patients visit India for medical treatments every year – the popularity of Indian healthcare around the world has made the country one of the primary medical tourism destinations in Asia.