A recent industry report has found that India is one among Asia’s leading medical tourism destinations, outranking Thailand and Singapore. The report, titled ‘Medical Value Travel in India’, researched and compiled by global research firm KPMG and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), found that India”s highly affordable treatment, combined with high quality of healthcare infrastructure and skilled doctors has given India this superior edge in the Asian market. Together, Thailand, Singapore and India’s medical revenue contributed a significant 60% of the total revenue of Asia’s medical tourism market in 2012.
For the report, KPMG and FICCI undertook research across Asia and conducted focused interviews with both public sector stakeholders and heads of domestic companies, as well as CEOs of well-known hospitals.
The month long research (conducted between the months of July and August 2014) shed new light on the medical trends of the Asian medical tourism market, known for both affordability and quality, worth $ 78.6 billion as of 2012.
For India, this sector is among the largest sources of revenue and employment. With an ambitious 15 % growth rate anticipated for the sector in India, it can reach $158.2 billion in the next three years.
Thailand’s brand positioning focuses on economy, both for medical tourism and as a vacation hotspot. On the other hand, Singapore focuses a brand strategy that highlights its high quality healthcare.
Affordable healthcare, and high quality treatments in the field of cardiology, orthopedics, nephrology, oncology and neurosurgery are what set India apart. Additionally, India enjoys a great positive reputation for its ‘alternative’ healthcare options, such as Yoga and Ayurveda.
In India, patients were drawn to Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, New Delhi, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Maharashtra. While inbound medical tourism traffic comes from across the globe, a large chunk of visitors are from developing and underdeveloped nations. This includes the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries, with notable inbound traffic coming from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Maldives and Sri Lanka. This is not only due to their geographical proximity (making flight costs easier to bear), but also political agreements between these countries and India.
The rapid improvement in healthcare has also been attributed to private sector growth in the field. However, there is still room for improvement. It was noted that infrastructural improvements could truly make the difference, including air connectivity, cuisine options, language interpreters – all of which would enable patients to see India in a favorable light when deciding their medical travel destination.