By Danish Ahmed,
India is renowned as a land of healing since thousands of years and the birthplace of Ayurveda. This ancient land even produced the first known plastic surgeon, Sushruta, in 6th century BCE. Cut to present, India has become a global healthcare hub for millions of patients across Asia, Africa and even more distant western countries. Each year approximately 2 million patients benefit from obtaining world-class medical & Ayurvedic treatments in India, and, thereby, generating $6 billion for India’s fast growing Medical and Wellness Tourism industry.
As the country gears to capture a considerable portion of the global $80 billion medical tourism market, a host of transformations are taking place simultaneously. With greater capital now flowing into India, hospitals are bringing in the latest technology, to provide cutting edge treatments using Robotics, VR and AI, complementing the high caliber medical talent available in the country. India’s leadership in the healthcare space is so dominant that even patients from richer Gulf countries, with 5 star hospitals, fly down to our cities for high end treatments. Our expertise & success rates in Organ transplantation, Cancer and IVF are comparable to top tier countries like Japan & Singapore.
To answer the question, what makes India a preferred destination for medical tourism, we must focus on the profound and traditional Indian concept of Atithi Devo Bhava. It is the core ethos of Indian hospitality, the guiding thought for hosts to go out of the way in treating guests with the same reverence as they give to God.
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This philosophy continues to guide the Indian tourism and hospitality sector to welcome tourists from all over the world and extend them an unforgettable experience. Coupled with the vastness of Indian land and water bodies, the geographic and cultural diversities, and rich historical and natural heritage, India is one of the most remarkable tourist destinations in the world. The fact that India is also one of the countries that has produced the finest doctors around the world, gives an edge for it to be chosen as a medical tourism destination.
There are 4 broad trends that will define the future of wellness tourism and India’s position in this industry. Ayurveda, Robotic Surgeries, Surgical Camps & Startups.
Ayurveda, India’s traditional health system, which provides nature powered treatments for lifestyle and localized diseases, is going to be a key driver over the next few years. The post-COVID world is understandably more proactive towards bettering their health which has increased the adoption of Yoga and acceptability of Ayurvedic medicine. With the Ayush ministry instilling a sense of standardization to this promising industry, the opportunity for ayurvedic treatments is tremendous.
At the same time, a slew of ambitious projects like Tulah, the Rs.800 crore Clinical Wellness Resort in Calicut, are setting new benchmarks in the wellness space by bringing together traditional medicine and world class hospital infrastructure under one umbrella. There is now empirical proof that ayurveda is effective in treatments for Renal Failure, Infertility and Diabetics, each of which effects over 100 million people globally. Besides the therapeutic treatments, Ayurveda also offers treatments for weight loss, detox and destress, which has an ever-growing demand globally.
With several unique offerings in Ayurveda, India has an opportunity to serve 10 million people annually and generate a stupendous business volume of $15 billion, annually.
The rapid adoption of robotic surgeries across Indian healthcare, is establishing the country as experts in minimally invasive surgeries. Such surgeries lead to lesser infection, faster healing and almost no scars on the patient’s body. This unique combination of equipment and skill is attracting an even larger number of patients to India and will become a dominant factor in the coming years.
With 5G networks getting beamed via satellites, our strength in robotic surgeries could reach a stage where surgeons are operating on patients thousands of miles away. Globally, Indians are the fastest adopters & developers of technology. We now have a hospital coming up in IIT Kanpur, and it’ll be very exciting to see how India takes the lead in developing the future of healthcare with 5G enabled robotic surgeries.
Indian surgeons are not only treating patients visiting India, but even travelling abroad to do surgical camps in frontier countries. Recently, a team of Indian surgeons conducted the first successful liver transplant in Sudan. Each month hundreds of such surgeries are happening in Iraq, Uzbekistan and other countries, establishing a unique trend in medical tourism.
With a growing trend of surgical camps, Indian healthcare is acquiring more market share in smaller surgeries that were earlier not travelling for treatment to India.
Bringing all this together are new age startups that are bridging the information gap between Indian healthcare and global patients. These startups are organizing the vast information related to ayurvedic clinics, hospitals, surgeons, equipment and tourism, bringing them to the international patients as a one stop solution. Through a combination of NLP chatbots, AI powered recommendation engines, content and communication, these startups understand the patient’s need, offer them the most relevant solutions and give them options to book textconsults, teleconsults, appointments, visas, hotels, flights and even ground support.
In conclusion, with Indian startups raising significant capital and leading the global play in medical tourism by offering asset light surgical camps and creating leadership in 5G enabled robotic surgeries, India has a unique advantage and role to play in shaping the future course of global medical tourism.
(The author is CEO and Founder, HealthTrip. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the FinancialExpress.com.)