A land of immense topological diversity, extensive historical significance and abundant reserves of culture and heritage, India, is also the biggest democracy in the world.The Indian economy has its veins rooted in a variety of sectors like agriculture, manufacturing, refineries, electronics, technology and software support, etc. One noteworthy contributor to the Indian economy is the growing medical tourism sector.
The amalgam of world-class health services provided at an extremely cost-effective rate, along with the opportunity to vacation in the most scenic locales makes India a top choice for medical tourists.
India ranks among the top three destinations for medical tourism all over Asia, the other two being Thailand and Singapore. The projected number of medical tourists travelling to India in 2015 was nearly half a million. This number is increasing exponentially for a variety of reasons. Some of them are discussed below.
The main attraction in India, for most medical tourists is the extremely reduced costs. Procedural costs in some cases in India are almost negligible, particularly for developed nations like the US or UK. For example, a heart bypass that costs $123,000 in the US costs a meager $7,900 here. Also, a heart valve replacement that in the US costs $170,000 will amount only to $9,500, if opted in India.
Plastic surgery too is a popular option because of its low costs. A face-lift that costs nearly $11,000 in USA is priced at about $4,500 in India. Most cosmetic surgeries like tummy tucks, rhinoplasty, etc cost only half in India than they do in the US.
Despite being offered at a low-cost, the quality of medical attention is never compromised at India’s top notch hospitals. Equipped with the latest technology and running under the supervision of award-winning medical professionals, India’s top hospitals are renowned for maintaining high standards in surgical precision as well as diagnostics.
With increase in communication capability, most Indian hospitals are now updated with the most modern procedures and techniques, similar to those in developed nations.
‘Atithi Devo Bhava’ which translates to guest is God has always been central to India’s culture and it has been gracefully extended to the medical tourism sector as well. World class hospitality and a friendly environment in India make medical travel a satisfying and memorable experience.
India is known to welcome all its guests with warmth and affection, making it a popular choice for medical attention. The fast-growing hospitality industry in India ensures that medical tourists feel at home while receiving treatment.
India has 27 JCI accredited hospitals which are known for their hospitality and high quality of care. Source: Binodkpn via en.wikipedia.org
Many a times, in the West, waiting periods for transplants, elective surgeries, specialties etc. are long and patience testing. At such a juncture, prospective patients prefer to travel to places like India. Renowned hospitals like the Apollo Hospital in Bangalore and Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai, are known to cater efficiently to a huge number of patients, on a regular basis. Such speedy service and attention draws a large number of tourists to India for medical purposes.
After undergoing a medical procedure, patients prefer to lie low and recuperate in a peaceful and serene environment. India offers an abundant choice of holiday destinations and journeys, that medical travelers can embark upon with their companions.
From the picturesque beaches of the South to the pristine sight of the snow-clad Himalayan mountains in the North and the rich, colorful heritage of the West to the Sundarbans of the East, India is crowned with scenic tourist destinations, along its length and breadth. This gives a tourist much-needed privacy as well as relaxation, needed to recuperate, before getting back to routine.
While most parts of India are considered to be safe for tourists, certain states/cities do suffer from threats of terrorist activity and political violence, such as Jammu and Kashmir, and other areas in the immediate vicinity of the Pakistan border. Even though such occurrences are very rare, tourists are advised to monitor the local media for warnings and information regarding any such threat to their security.
Safety of women can be a concern in the country. Women travellers should thus, take particular care and avoid travelling alone, especially at night.
Petty crimes like pickpocketing or bag-snatching are just as common in India as any other South Asian country, particularly in crowded places. Tourists must exercise caution and always keep an eye on their belongings. Despite said problems, most tourists in India do not experience many issues regarding safety because of the popular notion of ‘atithi devo bhava’.
The healthcare system in India is dominated primarily by the private sector, which remains the primary source of healthcare for 70% of households in urban areas and 63% of households in rural areas.
The public healthcare sector, on the other hand, suffers from low quality of doctors and infrastructure and is yet to develop. Several programs including the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) and the National Urban Health Mission have been launched by the Government of India with the aim of providing affordable, effective and high quality primary healthcare to the urban and rural poor. Just like the divide between the public and private sector, there exists a divide between quality of healthcare services in urban and rural areas.
The current government in the country plans to launch a nationwide universal healthcare program, known as the National Health Assurance Mission, which would provide all citizens with free drugs, diagnostic treatments, and insurance for serious ailments.
The quality of healthcare in many recognised hospitals in urban India is exceptional and surpasses even that in the first-world countries.
Almost all doctors, nurses and surgeons in reputed and recognised hospitals of the country speak English fluently. All paperwork and documents are filled in English as well. Tourists will not tend to have a problem in communicating with doctors.
Indian healthcare system is known for its diversity in specialization. A wide range of treatments are made available at the most affordable rates here. Let us review a few specialties that are popular in India.
Cardiological procedures like Non-Invasive Cardiology and Diagnostic, Invasive and Interventional Cardiology, Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG), Heart Valve Replacement and Pediatric Cardiac Surgery are popular in India. Numerous hospitals in India, like the Asian heart institute and research center are dedicated only to cardiac care.
India is the leading provider of cardiac treatment, with surgery costs as low as $4600 as opposed to $106,300 in US. Source: S D A hospital Ottapalam via en.wikipedia.org
Cancer treatment course designing and tackling its many complications is a tough task. Surgical and Diagnostic expertise in oncology is a major advantage of the Indian medical scene. Various types of cancers are treated at cost-effective rates with path breaking techniques, in several hospitals across the nation.
Kidney related problems are grouped under a specialty known as nephrology. Low costs yet cutting edge treatment makes nephrology a popular treatment option in India.
Owing to the availability of world-renowned orthopedic surgeons that design enticing valued packages for medical tourists, orthopedics has seen a rise in popularity in India. Treatments like Knee Replacement, Total Hip Replacement/Partial Hip Replacement, Bone Marrow Transplant, etc. are opted all over the country, by patients from far and wide.
A study by the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) indicated that Chennai was the most favored destination by medical travelers in India. According to that study, nearly 40% of all inbound traffic is received by Chennai.
Due to its affordable treatment options and excellent quality of medical attention, Chennai has emerged to become the health capital of India. Its many private hospitals offer a spectrum of treatments, receiving a projected 200 foreign patients every day. The Apollo Hospital, the Fortis Malar Hospital and the SRM Hospital are some of the most favored healthcare facilities in Chennai.
Chennai provides affordable treatment to citizens of countries like Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya through government sponsored medical tourism. Source: SwiftRakesh via en.wikipedia.org
New Delhi is the capital of the nation and a major financial and political center. It is among the fastest growing medical tourism cities in India. World class private hospitals offer skillful treatment at the most economic rates. Medical packages such as ophthalmic surgery, neurology, gastric surgery, etc. are offered at affordable prices at medical facilities that are known for upholding high standards of medical care.
The financial capital of the nation is known to house some of the world’s most renowned medical facilities, that specialize in a variety of different branches. The Tata Memorial Hospital is known for its superior research and treatment facilities in the field of oncology. Several private hospitals like Lilavati Hospital and Breach Candy Hospital, receive hordes of medical tourists every year.
A well-developed hospitality industry, presence of a major international hub for air traffic and availability of proficient experts, makes Mumbai a favored destination for medical tourism in India.
Once known as the Manchester of India, Ahmedabad is now one of the fastest growing medical tourism destinations. Hospitals like the SAL hospital, Rajasthan Hospital, Apollo Hospital, etc. offer excellent service and medical expertise. Ahmedabad has also become popular with Non Resident Indians (NRIs) as a medical tourism destination. Moreover, the city houses Asia’s biggest Civil hospital, thus garnering admiration on the popularity front.
Apart from the two discussed above, Goa, Bangalore, Hyderabad are also popular with medical tourists traveling to India.
A tourist in India must keep the following factors in mind:
While language does not pose much of a problem in most cities and towns, and English is widely spoken in the country, one must always try to learn a few basic words in the local language of the city/town they are visiting.
Tourists should be respectful while visiting local temples and mosques by adhering to their rules and customs. For eg: removing footwear before entering a temple and covering their heads while visiting a Gurudwara (religious place of the Sikhs).
Tourists in India must dress modestly, especially in the smaller towns or villages, so as to avoid offending the public. One can always carry a shawl or sweater while travelling to such areas.
Some vendors and rickshaw-drivers might try to overcharge foreigners. Thus, tourists must acquaint themselves with the standard rates and prices in the country in order to prevent such a situation.
India is known to be rich in culture with numerous religions, languages and cuisines prevalent across the county. Food in India varies greatly from one state to another, depending on the local climate, location and religions.
Apart from the local food, a number of international cuisines and dishes are also easily available in most restaurants. Indian food may be spicier than what most tourists are accustomed to, and hence one must always specify the amount of spice they prefer. Patients who have recently undergone surgery must avoid spicy and oily food in particular.
Vegetarian food is easily available in the country. Dressing in the country also varies depending on the climate. Khadi or cotton cloth is commonly worn in the warmer regions. Patients travelling for treatment must check the climatic conditions of the particular state that they are visiting before packing for their trip.
India is located in Southern Asia, bordering the Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal. While the Southern part of the country experiences a tropical monsoon climate, the Northern part has more of a temperate climate. The weather in India varies from one state to another, and depends on the time of the year. There are 4 main seasons in India, spanning a period of roughly 3 months each- Summer (April- June), Monsoon (July- September), Winter (October- January) and Spring (February- March).
Winter and early summer are long and dry periods with temperatures averaging above 18 °C (64 °F). Summer is exceedingly hot; temperatures in low-lying areas may exceed 50 °C (122 °F) during May, leading to heat waves. However, almost all hospitals and hotels are air-conditioned and mostly located inland (in the cities). Hence, the high temperatures are not too troubling.
India, known for being a culturally rich and diverse country, is home to a number of must visit tourist spots. It boasts of a variety of historical monuments displaying intriguing architecture. The most famous of these is the Taj Mahal in Agra, the mausoleum built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan for his beloved life. Other must see forts and monuments include Amber Fort, Jaigarh Fort and Jantar Mantar in Jaipur (The Pink City), the Ajanta and Ellora Caves of Maharashtra, and Qutub Minar, Red Fort and Humayun’s Tomb in Old Delhi.
Tourists can also experience a variety of terrains and climates within the Indian Subcontinent. While Goa and the Andaman Islands are famous for their expansive beaches, Kashmir, Darjeeling, Gangtok and Leh are known for their beautiful hilly landscapes. Those looking for a relaxing vacation after the treatment can visit Kerala and enjoy its beautiful backwaters and healing massages.
Getting around in most Indian cities and towns is cheap and easy. Cycle rickshaws, auto rickshaws and hand-drawn carts are light 2-3 wheeled passenger vehicles, widely available for covering short distances within the city. Public and private buses, boats, local trains, metros and taxis provide public transport facilities for covering relatively larger distances.
Uber and Ola taxi services are also popular and easily available in major indian cities. For travelling from one city to another, one can use the Indian Railways or domestic flights. Inter-city volvo buses are also a viable option for shorter distances.
Tourists who are visiting india for recreational purposes or those who are visiting to meet their family/friends should apply for a tourist visa. On the other hand, individuals visiting india for medical purposes must instead apply for a medical visa. A medical visa is available to those who seek treatment in recognized and specialised hospitals and treatment centers in India.
Patients undergoing serious procedures such as heart surgeries, cosmetic procedures, joint replacements and organ transplantations are given preference. The initial duration of such a visa is up to a year or the period of treatment, whichever is lesser. The visa is valid for a maximum of 3 entries during the one aforementioned period of one year.
Accreditation is a vital yardstick which assures patients of the quality of healthcare in a particular hospital or clinic. India has a good number of JCI accredited hospitals in major cities with highly skilled professionals, modern medical technology and an affordable cost structure. Moreover, hospitals which are accredited under the National Accreditation Board for Hospitals and Healthcare providers (NABH), a part of the Quality Council of India, ensure a standardized quality, common to all healthcare providers.
There are a total of 370 hospitals which are NABH accredited in India at present. Patients looking to travel to India for medical treatment must do their research and choose reputed hospitals that guarantee quality of service.
The splendid combination of world-class technology, modern medical infrastructure, growing hospitality industries, experienced service and good quality medical attention has given impetus to the growth of medical tourism in India. The dual opportunity of vacationing in some of the most tranquil locales, makes India a top choice for medical tourists.
Interested in getting medical treatment in India? Check out these popular medical tourism hospitals in India