India is set to roll out its first medical and wellness tourism policy on 21st June, The World Yoga Day, in a bid to strengthen its foothold in the global medical tourism market. Already, the country is enjoying a top ranking as per the medical tourism index in terms of destination quality and the medical support provided to beyond the border patients.
The tourism ministry is confident that with this policy India can reign the global medical tourism scenario offering a highly competitive price along with the service quality as per international standards. In view of the estimated medical tourism market of India valued at 7-8$ billion by 2020, it is expected that in coming two decades medical tourism in India can fetch almost the same benefits as what the IT industry has earned past 25 years.
Need of the hour:
This new policy is expected to boost the inflow of foreign medical travelers who would experience a hassle free treatment and a comfortable stay in this country. The framing of this policy came in the wake of India’s improved ranking in World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism Competitive Index (TTCI) for 2017.
India scaled 40th rank among 136 countries, 12 points up from the last year’s ranking of 52. In 2015, India ranked 65 in this index. India also posted an appreciable growth rate in terms of Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTA) which is 10.7% against the global rate of 3.9%. The introduction of medical e-visas to citizens of 161 countries has heightened the chances of increased number of foreign tourist footfalls in near future.
To meet the demands of the huge foreign crowd, implementation of a well framed policy is imperative. Many a time, lack of transparency in services and information turns out to be a big deterrent in medical tourism growth and many countries are suffering a huge setback due to this. In the absence of any well defined policy, unauthorized service providers and facilitators get the opportunity to indulge in rampant malpractices giving scary experiences to the foreign health travelers. This spoils the reputation of the country.
What is in the policy?
When a healthcare seeker plans for overseas medical assistance, doubts and concerns rage in his/her mind, which is quite obvious. India government will launch an information portal where all the authorized service providers would be listed leaving no room for ambiguities.
Foreign travelers would be advised to seek medical treatments only with those accredited institutions/clinics listed in the portal. For this, the government has decided to register all the hospitals and wellness centers in the web portal after checking their standards of service. The ministry is also emphasizing the registration of medical care assistance providers after providing due training.
Transparency in the pricing structure along with the service package would also be listed clearly enabling the abroad travelers make a pick of his/her choice. Often, cropping up of sudden hidden costs leaves the foreigner patients in dismay and they leave the country with a bad taste.
This would prevent such unpleasant experiences assuring the patients of the best value for their money. The portal would also present a list of the procedures offered by the hospitals and wellness centers and the success rates.
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The inclusion of notable cardiac surgeon Naresh Trehan and Yoga Guru Ramdev in the national medical and wellness tourism board has further boosted the future prospects. The presence of noted personalities in the board strengthens its credibility erasing traces of hesitation from the minds of foreign travelers.
The tourism minister Mr. Mahesh Sharma is stressing on providing quality healthcare support to the foreign nationals only by the accredited institutions. This would save millions of foreign travelers from being deceived of the services assured to them.
Only a policy cannot bring about great changes unless the key stakeholders shoulder enough responsibility while discharging their services. Quality of service delivery matters most while dealing with beyond the border patients.
To sustain this, a collective effort is required from all relevant sectors. Infrastructure development, training of personnel, hiring the right professionals and above all maintaining a hospitable ambience to the utmost satisfaction of the overseas patients will take India’s medical tourism sector many steps ahead.