Home / News / India /  Foreign arrivals at pvt hospitals way short of pre-covid levels

New Delhi: While private hospital chains such as Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Ltd and Fortis Healthcare Ltd continued to witness a recovery in international arrivals in October-December, the number of such patients was significantly lower compared with pre-covid levels due to restrictions on international flights.

“Just looking at international patients, it is about 10% of total outpatient visits in normal times. I think what was significant is that patients are not able to travel because airlines are not operating at full capacity. We believe when that comes back, the OP (out-patient visits) will definitely pick up in terms of international patients," Apollo Hospitals managing director Suneeta Reddy said at an investor call on Saturday.

For most large private hospitals, medical tourism made up for 10% of total out-patient visits, but revenues had a higher share.

Max Healthcare’s revenue from international medical tourists was at 40% of pre-covid levels in October-December though there had been a sharp uptick in arrivals from the preceding quarter.

To grow the international medical tourism business, Max now plans to establish a subsidiary in the United Arab Emirates, which will reach out to a greater number of patients to capture a higher market share from Africa, West Asia and Eastern Europe.

Fortis said revenues from medical tourism contributed 5% to its total revenues, which was far higher than 1.3% in the September quarter, but is still substantially short of the 10.7% in the third quarter of FY20.

At Narayana Hrudayalaya, the share of international patients was just about 3% in October-December, against 11% in the year-ago quarter.

While Bangladeshi patients made up for its largest share of international patients, flights from the country have not yet resumed fully.

“The recovery has not been great... Though some flights have started, the frequency has not really increased and international patients mostly come to India for elective cases. A bulk of our patients do come from Bangladesh and the frequency of flights hasn’t resumed," said Narayana managing director and group chief executive officer Emmanuel Rupert.

The hospital chain’s management said it is compensating for the decline in medical tourism with enhanced domestic activities.

Since October, recovery in domestic patient visits for non-covid treatment has been robust, with the economy opening up and people becoming more confident about visiting healthcare facilities.

This was reflected in Fortis’ overall hospital occupancy rising to 64% in October-December, almost on par with levels in the year-ago period.

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