Sustaining the growth trajectory of India as a medical tourism destination

With an impressive mean annual growth rate of 30% over the last few years the Indian medical tourism is emerging stronger as one of the most promising medical tourism destinations in the world. According to a report published by Transworldnews in 2013 the Indian medical tourism is expected to have a 3% global share in the medical tourism industry and sustain a CAGR of around 26%. The Deloitte report even acknowledges and specifically states that India will achieve a CAGR of around 30%.

Medical tourism in India is generating an annual revenue of around $3 billion and is expected to grow significantly in the next five years. The growth and revenue generation has led many corporate houses in India to take note of medical tourism industry. Significant investments have been made to develop new medical cities and super specialty hospitals. Compared to the demand for treatment from international patients the demand from domestic patients is so high that the companies are expected to recover their ROI within a short span. Added with it are the liberal tax incentives and land acquisition policies by the government which makes it easier for new entrants to enter the industry. However, the government support in terms of policy making, incentives, regulation for the medical travel industry are not yet visible. The medical industry is still in a nascent stage and needs some more years to come at par with the IT sector.

The Indian medical travel industry is catering primarily to the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), Middle Eastern and African countries. Although significant inroads haven’t yet been made into the American and European markets there are recent indicators which show patient flow is increasing from American and European markets as well. In the coming years India is going to face challenge from upcoming medical tourism destinations such as UAE, South Africa etc. Along with it the patient perception is changing with regards to getting treatment. It is no longer about just getting affordable treatment. The patient now expects to get quality secondary and tertiary services as well from the destination country. Besides these the cost of treatment in India is creeping a little bit upwards on account of inflation. Such factors can hurt the growth trajectory of medical tourism in India.

Notwithstanding these issues the industry is quite bullish on the growth of medical travel which will complement the already growing leisure travel industry in India. Maybe the industry’s optimism is justified too. Why India is a preferred destination among the medical tourists can be gauged from its low cost, scale and range of treatments available which differentiates it from the other medical tourism destinations. And these factors, India has been able to leverage quite effectively till now.

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By Omar Siddiqui ,

CEO at Medicure Medical Travels | Telemedicine | Medical Travel Consultant | Health Informatics | Speaker

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