Eyeing the growing potential of the Indian health care sector, the ministry of tourism has set a revenue target of $1 billion (Rs4,400 crore) for medical tourism by 2010.
A joint report, in 2005, of consultancy firm McKinsey & Co and Confederation of Indian Industry valued medical tourism in India at $400 million.
In order to meet the target, the government is implementing a three-pronged strategy involving three service sectors —health care providers, tour operators and hospitality groups. The idea is to promote India as a global health care destination under the ‘Incredible India’ banner.
The strategy includes creating synergy among the three service sectors, which are directly linked with health care and tourism; identifying hospitals and fixing a price band for healthcare and support services, Amitabh Kant, joint secretary, ministry of tourism, told Mint.
The government wants medical tourism to grow at about 30% a year. The Indian education system is producing about 20,000 to 30,000 doctors and nurses each year to meet the demand. The spend on health care is expected to be around 8% of India’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 2010, a ministry official said.
“We have already initiated talks with the three service sectors to adopt a standardized process for attracting patients from across the globe,” Kant says.
He feels India’s medical facilities offer advanced technology and high-quality procedures on a par with hospitals in developed nations at a very low price.
Agreeing with him, Parvez Ahmed, executive director (medical), Max Healthcare, one of India’s leading hospital chains, says: “The concept of promoting medical tourism to India has broad consumer appeal today.”
The government has already identified 32 hospitals—public and private—across India as premium health-care facilities which can provide value-added services, essential to attract medical tourists. Value-added services include not only better medical technologies and treatment but also services such as arranging travel documentation and facilitating a comfortable stay, points out a tourism ministry official.
With these proposals, India is even moving into a new area of “medical outsourcing” where it aims at providing services to the overburdened medical care systems in Western countries, the official adds.