The global medical tourism market will be worth US$54 billion and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 13% until 2025. India’s medical tourism market will be worth US$9 billion in 2020 and is the fifth largest medical tourism market out of 41 destinations.
These are the conclusions of India: Building Best Practices in Healthcare Services Globally 2019 by consultants Ernst & Young (EY India) for the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).
As healthcare becomes more expensive in developed countries, India’s medical tourism market is expanding. The key drivers of growth are affordability and accessibility of good healthcare services, availability of the latest medical technologies and accreditations, and minimal waiting time.
The report repeats a common claim that medical tourists can save up to 50% of the costs of healthcare in the USA. TTEM’s analysis suggests however that the percentage of medical tourists travelling from the USA to India as less than 0.01%. Most medical travellers going to India are from Asia and Africa.
Key Indian city destinations
Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Kolkata are the preferred destination cities for medical travellers arriving in India. 27% of India’s medical tourists head to Maharashtra, out of which 80% go to Mumbai. Chennai attracts 15% of incoming foreign patients while Kerala has 5-7%.
Source Markets of Medical Travellers to India
According to the report, based on figures from 2014 to 2017, major source markets for India is the South-East Asian countries, the Middle East, Africa and SAARC countries. More than 50% of medical tourists are from Bangladesh. The report repeats the Ministry of Tourism 2017 figures:
TTEMS’s analysis challenges the number of medical travellers from the Maldives of 45,355; as the total population of the Maldives is only 530,000 people this is disproportionately high.
The number of medical tourists on medical visas has increased from just over 10,000 in 2014 to around 480,000 in 2017. The Indian government estimates total medical tourism numbers for 2017 at just fewer than 500,000, and is expecting this amount to increase in future years.
The report says that there are 38 hospitals accredited by the Joint Commission International (JCI) and 643 accredited by the National Accreditation Board for Hospitals and Healthcare Providers (NABH).
Key market growth risks for India
The report warns that there is a need to improve on post-operative care in terms of environment, hygiene and precautions required after a patient is operated on. India is also behind many countries on healthcare regulation; there is little to stop unaccredited hospitals, clinics or medical tourism agents from staying in business and attracting medical tourists. There is also a lack of regulation of the Indian medical tourism industry, and this lack of regulation could impede growth.
The Indian national government is criticised for its lack of support for medical tourism, particularly at government-to-government level between India and patient source countries. Too much is left to individual hospitals. There is also no grievance or redress mechanism in place for international patients to raise complaints. There is no policy arrangement in place to insure patients in case of unexpected complications in treatment.
Of the findings in the report, Gaurav Taneja at EY India says: “Government must form institutions for regulation and implementation of medical tourism. There is a need to build a robust platform for patients to interact with different stakeholders of the industry and define a code of conduct for medical tourism business.
With a branding and marketing campaign ‘Heal in India,’ I am sure the country will elevate its existing position in rank among the most preferred destinations.”