Medical Tourism is a concept where a patient travels to another country for medical treatment in order to save costs, or get treatment faster or even to avail of better medical facilities. Most patients from countries like USA and UK travel to developing countries such as India for treatment because India offers some of te cheapest pricing options of treatment, offers a good holiday, there are no waiting lists or queues to stand in, the doctors are comparable to anyone in the world and finally, language does not pose a problem as most people speak English.
India is also working hard to increase it's infrastructure to better suit the needs of patients coming to India for treatments such as heart surgey, knee replacement, other orthopaedic treatments, cosmetic surgery, eye care, dental treatment or any other treatment for that matter. This is one of the primary fields which India intends to explore during the coming years.
By Victor Albuquerque:-
Medical Tourism in India is a fast growing industry and the proposal of a new 1,000-bedded hospital in the capital to cater to visiting foreigners will give it an added fillip.
Health care and tourism seems quite an odd couple, but with the growing needs in the health-care industry coupled with the idea of a holiday after, is irresistible and people are looking towards India both for allopathic and ayurvedic treatments.
Not very long ago, Indians used to travel abroad fro treatments.Â The tables have turned now and people are looking to India for medical treatment, thanks to trained doctors, latest technology, lower cost of treatment, etc.
India attracts more than a million tourists per year and Goa alone attracts about 2 lakh tourists every year.Â Therefore, it is an ideal situation for conversion of tourism into medical tourism.Â Goa has a large number of resorts and hotels, right from 5-star deluxe to the budget hotels which cater to different classes of foreign tourists.Â
The idea of medical tourism never crossed the Goan mind until the seting up of the Apollo Victor Hospital at Margao which is the first super specialty, multi-specialty, tertiary care hospital in the state.Â With the advent of this hospital, Goa suddenly woke up to this new concept, which caters to people coming in either for planned treatments or for unplanned treatments.
Goa is an ideal medical tourism destination taking into account its connectivity to many parts of Europe via convenient charger flights and several domestic flights every day from large cities of India.
With the facilities Goa can offer, it could be easily converted into a centre of excellence for Medical Tourism.Â Add to it, the flavour of Goan hospitality, medical tourism could be made very attractive.Â We therefore have an excellent opportunity to market health care in Goa, especially to the Britishers who consist of 60 per cent of the total tourists arriving in Goa.
Add to it, the fact that presently in the UK, the queues to avail services from the national health services are very long and private health care costs at least four times more when compared to India.Â In Britain, the national health services patients have to sometimes wait for six months to a year to avail of treatments like hip replacement, heart surgeries etc.Â Some who are already in the queue for many months do not survive the waiting period and those who survive end up paying four times more than the Indian equivalent for the same treatment.Â Keeping all these factors in mind, a planned surgery or a planned treatment could be ideally undertaken in Goa with the bonus of a beach holiday thereafter.
The Appolo Victor Hospital offers various treatments for the foreigners namely:
Orthopaedic treatments and joints replacement (hip/knee replacement), neurosurgery and spinal surgeries (cold and elective surgeries), cosmetic and plastic surgeries dentistry, ophthalmology and weight loss/bariatric surgery.
At any given point of time, 15 per cent to 20 per cent of the patients in the hospital are foreigners.
To complement allopathic tourism, ayurveda treatments are also available in Goa.Â â€˜Deevaya Ayurveda Retreatâ€™ caters only to ayurvedic treatments.Â It is holistic in nature and consists of not only treatments therapies but also wellness therapies including medication and yoga which are so essential toe the well being of any person.
Medical Tourism is still ina very nascent stage in Goa and except for a very few who have seen its vast potential, it can grow still more with the support of the government.Â Therefore what is needed and what should be done by the government is to market Goa not only as a beach tourism destination but also as a medical tourism destination.Â It needs a strong marketing stratergy with a focus for the next 5-10 years and committed and aggressive marketing in order to attract more and more patients to Goa.
It is not a very difficult task taking into account the beauty of the state and the resources it has, and all it needs is political will.
Medical Tourism is a developing concept whereby people from world over visit India for their medical and relaxation needs. Most common treatments are heart surgery, knee transplant, cosmetic surgery and dental care. The reason India is a favourable destination is because of it's infrastructure and technology in which is in par with those in USA, UK and Europe. India has some of the best hospitals and treatment centers in the world with the best facilities. Since it is also one of the most favourable tourist destinations in the world, Medication combines with tourism has come into effect, from which the concept of Medical Tourism is derived.
India is promoting the "high-tech healing" of its private healthcare sector as a tourist attraction.
The government hopes to encourage a budding trade in medical tourism, selling foreigners the idea of travelling to India for low-cost but world-class medical treatment.
More and more people have started travelling to India for Medical Treatment and during the past year alone, over 150000 people travelled to India for their medical requirements. Medical Tourism is finally coming of age.
India boasts of several good private owned hospitals with facilities second to none. They have some of the best doctors, with most top end being educated in USA and UK. When it comes to becoming a doctor, India also has some of the stringest criteria. Language is another plus factor - English, which is widely spoken throughout the country and in all good hospitals. Furthermore, the costs are much lower than most countries and most importantly, there are no waiting lists. With all the media hype about medical tourism, most hospitals have geared themselves up for medical tourists from abroad.
For all those still hesitant to travel abroad for treatment, try getting a package deal with a company such as Health Line and you will get an idea of how much you can save. No coss are incurred for getting a quote or medical advise over email. Doctors are very willing to help patients abroad feel comfortable and will be more than happy to respond to your queries through such medical tourism companies.
With the introduction of the medical visa, it will now be easier than ever to travel to India. If your treatment requires an extension, the medical visa can be extended without any problem.
What exactly is medical tourism?
Broadly speaking, medical tourism is the practice of going abroad for medical care.As a general way of life, medical tourism dates back to the earliest days of civilization when patients would travel far and wide in search of medical expertise and counseling.As an industry, however, it is only a few decades old.Globalization and mass communication have helped many developing countries compete in the wider world of health care.Due to lower labor costs, more flexible malpractice laws, and heavy investing, certain medical tourism destinations have emerged as leaders in affordable health and medicine.
Medical tourism is the practice of traveling to another country in order to receive medical attention, be it heart surgery, breast implants, a hip replacement, or dental work.Depending on the location and procedure, a medical vacation can cost 50%, 30%, or even 10% of what you would pay at home.
Even when you factor in air fare, hotels, travel insurance, car rentals, shopping, and dining, many medical vacations are substantially more affordable than domestic health care is.For example, a heart valve operation that might require $100,000 in the States could cost well under $10,000 in a country like India where lower labor costs help drive down the price considerably.The same is true in popular medical tourism destinations like Thailand, Argentina, Singapore, and Hungary.
The Booming Medical Tourism.
The concept of medical tourism is not a new one.Â The first recorded instance of medial tourism dates back thousands of years to when Greek pilgrims traveled from all over the Mediterranean to the small territory in the Saronic Gulf called Epidauria.Â This territory was the sanctuary of the healing god Asklepios.Â Epidauria became the original travel destination for medical tourism.
Spa towns may be considered an early form of medical tourism.Â Factors that have led to the recent increase in popularity of medical travel include the high cost of health care or wait times for procedures in industrialized nations, the ease and affordability of international travel, and improvements in technology and standards of care in many countries of the world.
Medical tourists can come from anywhere in the world, including Europe, the UK, West Asia, Asia, US and Canada.Â This is because of their large populations, comparatively high wealth, the high expense of health care or lack of health care options locally, and increasingly high expectations of their populations with respect to health care.Â Health tourism provides have developed as intermediaries to unite potential medical tourists with provider hospitals and other organizations.Â It has been started that â€œmedical tourism is promoted much more heavily in the United Kingdom than in the United Statesâ€.
A large draw to medical travel is convenience and speed.Â Countries that operate public health-care systems are often so taxed that it can take considerable time to get non urgent medical care.Â The time spent waiting for a procedure such as a hip replacement can be a year or more in Britain and Canada; however, in Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, Cuba, Colombia, Philippines or India, a patient could feasible have an operation the day after their arrival.Â
Additionally, patients are finding that insurance either does not cover orthopedic surgery (such as knee/hip replacement) or imposes unreasonable restriction on the choice of the facility, surgeon, or prosthetics to be used.Â Medical tourism for knee/hip replacements has emerged as one of the more widely accepted procedures because of the lower cost and minimal difficulties associated with the traveling to/from the surgery.
Medical tourists may seek essential health care services such as cancer treatment and brain and transplant surgery as well as complementary or â€˜electiveâ€™ services such as aesthetic treatments (cosmetic surgery).
Medical Tourism For Life-Saving Procedures
Ten years ago, medical tourism usually referred to cosmetic, plastic, or elective surgery, but increasingly, patients are receiving life-saving medical operations such as heart surgery.Hip replacements, fertility work, and cancer treatments have also become quite popular in recent years.In fact, some medical and dental destinations offer procedures that are unavailable in certain Western countries.Hip resurfacing, for example, was only recently approved by the US Food & Drug Administration, even though it had been available in India for quite some time.We don't always recommend signing up for experimental treatments, but certain medical conditions warrant exploring any and all available options.
Medical Tourism's Growing Popularity
Thanks to Internet technology, more affordable international travel, and major advances in medical science, medical tourism is becoming less of a novelty and more of a global trend.But in truth, medical tourism has existed for millennia.
Quality Vital for Healthcare
Standards are everything when it comes to health care, there are parallel issues around medical tourism, international healthcare accreditation, evidence-based medicine and quality assurance.
Those people considering becoming medical tourists may be assisted in making rational choices by whether hospitals providing such services have been assessed and accredited by reputable and independent external accreditation bodies.Â In the US, JCI (Joint Commission International) fulfills such a role, which in the UK and Hong Kong, the Trent International Accreditation Scheme is a key player.
The different international healthcare accreditation schemes vary in quality, size, cost, intent and the skill of their marketing.Â They also vary in terms of cost to hospitals and healthcare institutions using them.
Increasingly, some hospitals are looking towards â€œdual international accreditationâ€, perhaps having both JCI to cover potential US clientele and Trent for potential British and European clientele.
The society for international Healthcare Accreditation, or SOFIHA, is a free-to-join group providing a forum for discussion and for the sharing of ideas and good practice by providers of international healthcare accreditation and users of the same-the primary role of this organization is to promote a safe hospital environment for patients, wherever they travel to in the world for health care.
HealthCare Tourism International, or HTI, is the first US-based non-profit organization to accredit the non-clinical aspects of health tourism such as language issues, business practices and false or misleading advertising prevention.
The group has accreditation for all the major groups involved in the health tourism industry from hotels, to recover facilities to medical tourism booking agencies, etc.
Health tourism provides may provide potential medical tourists with some information about international healthcare accreditation and its importance, but some do not.
Ayurveda which is form of medical treatment originated from India has gained a lot of prominence in European world for health benefits. Ayurveda is defined as ayuh + veda. Ayuh means life and Veda signifies knowledge. Therefore by its definition Ayurveda lifts itself beyond the realms of diseases and treatments. It treats life as a single composite phenomenon.After Kerala now Goa is one of Indias best destination for combining Tourism with Ayurveda Treatment.
Although dental tourism is technically part of the larger medical tourism industry, many would argue that it deserves a category of its own due to its specialized nature.Dental Tourism relates to all Toursim activities revolving around Dental Treatment.
By P D'Souza
People in western countries find prices for medical services very high so they go to places where they can avail of these services at a lesser price and this flow of patients from one country to another is known as medical tourism.
Overseas patients who come down for dental treatment mostly go in for implants, crowns, root canalling, filling or teeth whitening and the period of this treatment ranges from ten days to three months, says Dr Hubert Gomes a Goan dentist.
Talking about the price factor, Dr Hubert says, â€œIn the first instance the overseas patient should not compare the European rates to the rates of medical treatment in Goa, but should find out the rates which are prevailing in Goa.
Also the overseas patient should double check the recommendations of other required elements like taxi drivers, tour guides and hotel stuff before they visit their required doctors and dentists, as many of them act as commission agent.
Dr Hubert is also of the opinion there should be a uniform pricing for the local patients and the overseas patient.
Finally he says, â€œ The Goa governmentâ€™s role in medical tourism is as a facilitator only.â€
Medical Tourism is a new and developing concept worldwide and one of the major surgeries for which patients opt for Medical Tourism is Cosmetic Surgery, and what better place to get this done than India. Advantages include low cost, no waiting lists and a high quality holiday.
Yoga has gain a lot of prominence for travelers from Abroad in to Goa as a motivation to visit India. Yoga is an ancient Indian body of knowledge that dates back more than 5000 years ago. The word "Yoga" came from the Sanskrit word "yuj" which means "to unite or integrate." Yoga then is about the union of a person's own consciousness and the universal consciousness.Since Yoga helps in wellbeing of body as well a soul its been included in our Medical Tourism Section.