Medical Tourism

My friend and I are very bullish about the prospects of Medical Tourism in India, and that is the reason why we have invested in Apollo Hospitals. He recently wrote a short blogpost on it. Although I share his optimism about it, but I am still very skeptic about some of the assertions which he made… esp. about how it impacts the rest of the Nation.

Firstly, World over medical tourism is restricted to a niche of planned surgery. People do not go abroad for a routine check-up/diagnosis. So if India becomes a medical tourism destination, then I do not see the benefits going beyond the department of surgery. However for most people proper health care means good diagnosis by a general practitioners. So even for those who can afford, benefits would be limited.

Secondly, the foreign Insurance companies cannot ship anybody just anywhere. For a hospital to receive international patients, it has to not only 25% better than the rest, but also need to have certificates and documentary proofs to assert the same. After all, we might compromise on the quality of grocery we purchase, but nobody like to compromise their health to save a few pennies. This means that the hospitals would need to have trained staff with not only internationally recognized degrees, but would have to send them to seminars and constantly keep them abreast with the latest in the medical world. The hospital facilities would have to be ramped up from things that are visible like latest equipments to things which we do not notice like proper waste disposal and sanitization. This is a multi million dollar investment, and I do not see this happening in too many hospitals too soon, and even if it happens, the facilities would be near international airports (6-10 cities at max). So bulk of the billion population would only look at the facilities and sulk.

In USA, the doctors have to quarantine patients for almost every communicable disease (like malaria, and dengue), what they expect and how they treat is greatly different from what is widely expected by doctors in India. So unless the doctors practice some sort of double standards, I do not think the same hospital can satisfy both Indian and International patients.

However all said and done, this revolution would greatly benefit the country. Apart from boosting our ego, it would earn us a lot of precious foreign currency, greatly increase the standards as well as investments in the field of medicine. Also one of the biggest complaint of doctors is that there are not sufficient training institutes and their salaries have not kept pace with the booming IT/ITES/BPO and retail sectors. So this is probably their chance to improve the job satisfaction.

PS: I have no background in the field of medicine… so all the readers of ENagar, esp. doctors are humbly requested to help me refine my thoughts.

only big hospitals who can afford latest surgery equipment

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8 thoughts on “Medical Tourism

  1. if a hospital earns from surgery department, it doesn’t mean the money can’t be invested for other departments. As you say we can compromise on grocery but not on health care, I won’t mind going to a big city for an important treatment (especially airfare going down :P).
    Most of the big hospitals in India are of International Standards, and when you talk about the difference, its not pennies; the ratio of the treatment costs might go to 10-20 fold in various cases.

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  2. no what I feel is that the medical tourism centers will actually be surgery only specialty hospitals and not general hospitals… which the masses need.

    the big hospitals might be of international standards, but the certifications required to prove that would cost a few million dollars.. which will bump us the rates to unrealistically high levels for indian patients too… and with the price difference on 10-20 times.. it might be more profitable for them to cater exclusively to US Population.

    i might be sounding as a devil’s advocate… but i have my reservations against the claimed tickle down effect.

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  3. I haven’t been to US hospitals but having seen some of the best in Singapore and India I would say medical tourism has a huge potential. Forget certifications and international standards a hospital is as good as the doctors and equipment in it. And frankly unless you are talking extensive specialization it is not that expensive as most decent hospitals already have that stuff.

    For example if i have to do a root canal operation or lets say even an ACL treatment. It is cheaper or me to go to India and do it there than in Singapore. As well as Root Canals and everything. This is not some high special surgery or anything and the equipment for these are found in most decent hospitals.

    Btw Singapore Medical is subsidised by the government and still is so expensive so think about how expensive it is for the US.

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  4. agreed.. adn nobody is denying the potential it has (a mojor reason why i am so bullish about APollo Hospitals)
    but the question is what does it means for the common man… will a guy outside the medical fraternity benefit from it? or is he going to witness that the best of the indian hospitals r going to be out of bounds for him

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  5. ya but what i fear is that in the process of doing so… what if the prices of medical facilities double… and all the good doctors start exclusively catering to the Americans….

    ya i agree that these arguments look ridiculous … and sounds like the ones which people were raising a decade ago when MNC wanted to open office in India.. but still i somehow feel that thanks to underspending by government, and underpaying the doctors, medical facilities in India have only deteriorated … and with this the prices will shoot up to levels when it will be beyond a common man’s reach

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  6. dude decent medical is already beyond the common man’s reach.
    Prices will rise but will never be able to match the volume that the country itself generates. Also this will be limited to few hospitals which will also be situated n hotspots like major cities or tourist places. It is not going to placed in some far off place anyway. What might also happen is that docs who settle abroad come back same reason why some techies are moving back. Its all relative.

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