Medical Tourism in Maharashtra’s set to witness boom post Covid-19

Updated: Apr 06, 2021 11:33 AM

Favourably positioning itself as a leader in healthcare services open to all, the State of Maharashtra is working towards guiding hopeful patients towards a better clinical outcome.

medical tourismMedical Tourism is the fastest growing sector in the world today, with increasing disease burden across the globe, there is a huge shortage of experienced doctors and medical infrastructure.

By Mihir Vora,    

It should be no surprise that the world’s largest democracy has emerged a leader in solving the current healthcare crisis. With its contribution towards scientific research surrounding the novel coronavirus and the development of high quality vaccines supplied around the world, India is paving the way for better prevention strategies for the disease. And it is important to note that a large chunk of these supplies are manufactured within Maharashtra.

Medical Tourism is the fastest growing sector in the world today, with increasing disease burden across the globe, there is a huge shortage of experienced doctors and medical infrastructure. India is home to doctors who are far more experienced in handling complex treatment because of the high number of population and various cases that they come across. Not leaving out the fact that, at present, Indian paramedics across the globe are a force to reckon with. They are annually recruited by various countries to combat their shortage of medical staff.

Pre-Covid19, a large number of patients around the world flew down to seek out services ranging from minor treatments to extensive surgeries. Curiously, it has been noted that many of the patients were from developed countries. Many of these fliers arrived with the hope that our doctors cure them of their health problems. This was due to the lack of accurate diagnosis back home or because they found their country’s healthcare too expensive. On a good note majority flew back with positive results. This phenomenon has carried on for years, and it is no longer just a word of mouth recommendation. In fact large companies now assist patients outside of India to sort out their medical emergencies within highly equipped states like Maharashtra.

Maharashtra has positioned itself as top destination for Medical Tourism-and here’s why:

Maharashtra revels in the glory of four international airports, as the state with the highest connectivity and expertly skilled medical staff. It is falsely perceived to possess the most expensive treatment, as it has many affordable schemes to aid patients. While it is crucial that treatment remains affordable, it is a fact that Medical tourists prefer quality over cost.

The State has the highest number of Joint Commission International (JCI) hospitals as a state with 10 JCI hospitals out of 36 in India. The State has all the latest Medical technologies, right from Cyber knife in oncology to Artificial transplants in cardiology. With best outcomes and genuine treatment that is offered by our Hospitals & doctors, Maharashtra a more promising state. The acquisition of such modern medical techniques has led to the emergence of highly skilled doctors from the best establishments in Maharashtra.

To name one such establishment, it would be Tata Memorial Hospital. Tata Memorial Hospital is known to be the best institute in India. The tremendous influx of travellers may leave Tata Memorial slightly overwhelmed in response to its amenities. But all the great doctors that have trained at Tata are doing wonders in the field of Oncology. A field which is in predominant need of foreign medical tourists. It is home to the best clinical outcomes in India and the State aims to provide the best healthcare for people around the world.

According to the FICCI – E&Y Report – “India: Building Best Practices in Healthcare Services Globally” released in 2019 on medical tourism, suggested that approx. 27% of tourists come to Maharashtra. This number could point to the number of Foreign Tourism Arrivals (FTAs) routed to Maharashtra and not the Medical tourists. Various Facilitators and Medical Tourism servicing companies agree that a larger number of medical tourists are managed and serviced in locations like Delhi and Chennai than in Maharashtra. This implies that Maharashtra, with its best facilities, has a lot more to achieve. The current influx of patients into Maharashtra may range between 700-1000 Medical tourists a month. This can be increased to 10,000 patients a month in the next 5-7 years. This is the target designed under the roadmap for the State with The Medical Value Travel Council of India (MTVCI).

Sought after treatments in Maharashtra

Maharashtra is among the best states in the country to seek out health solutions. The city of Mumbai is home to top hospitals and medical centers that offer procedures related to Oncology, Cardiology, Transplants & Orthopaedic patients.

Offering wellness facilities for recuperation

Favourably positioning itself as a leader in healthcare services open to all, the State of Maharashtra is working towards guiding hopeful patients towards a better clinical outcome. It aims to not just focus on Healthcare, but also on Wellness.

One could say, “Prevention is better than Cure”. Wellness plays a crucial role in the mental and physical health of a person. The mind and body constantly impact each other. Not to mention the increasing burden of a stressful, unhealthy lifestyle, offering ways to wellness is a must. This is where the state has undertaken priority on the wellness policy and promotes itself as a wellness destination. It aims to provide accredited wellness services for the holistic wellbeing of mind, body and soul.

Multiple destinations viz. Lonavala, Pune, Nashik, Igatpuri, etc., are already home to Wellness Centers where Post-Operative care patients are provided with traditional Ayurvedic Spa, stress relieving procedures and other such wellness treatments. MVTCI has also included a dedicated focus on the Wellness Segment in collaboration with the State.

MVTCI, Directorate of Tourism and Government of Maharashtra shall work together to create the roadmap towards a Global promotion strategy that will encourage patients to seek out services in Maharashtra once the travel market resumes.

Alternative medicine- Paving the way to the future

Most travellers, arrive to undergo surgeries, and are educated about the options of Homeopathy and Ayurveda, post treatment. Many patients who have undergone Homeopathy have got excellent results, leaving positive feedback. Maharashtra has all the facilities for alternative medicines available but their reach needs to be widespread so that the patients are informed/aware of the various places for recuperation. From Ayurvedic resorts, to more importantly Ayurvedic hospitals, where few are also prevalent in South India, that provide excellent results.

Steps needed to boost medical tourism

The State should plan to set up comfortable living conditions, guest rooms and other amenities for foreign guests seeking treatment. It would be wise to make this prevalent in parts where medical tourism persists. This way guests can be assured of comfort, security and basic provisions within minutes of the hospitals where they are being treated. The State could take it a step further to curate these living conditions based on the medical treatment the guest requires.

The next issue is that the State needs to ensure affordability of these living conditions. Medical tourists always emphasize that the expense of their journey, the hospital bill and accommodation is still more affordable than the healthcare in their countries. This practice of ensuring affordable services to all who need it should continue if Maharashtra seeks to improve on its medical tourism.

Looking at the bigger picture, a positive experience for the medical tourist would encourage them to tour Maharashtra, especially the hill stations and serene destinations, post services. This may lead to the patient’s family viewing the State as a potential holiday destination.

The average medical tourist spends 5000-6000 USD on treatment and other 3000-5000 USD on shopping, travel and other miscellaneous expenses. It can help generate huge employment for the locals and small businesses in the area. Those that can benefit will be anyone from Cab services, foreign exchangers, facilitators, Hospitals, Doctors, Hotels and boosting the economy of local markets. Keeping in mind that Medical Tourism is one of the 26 champion sectors given by Government of India; it has high potential to grow.

Maharashtra’s emergence as the leader in the medical sector in India is becoming more prominent with time. Its values lie in providing critical healthcare assistance, to all who need it.

(The author is founder and CEO of Magnus Medi. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the Financial Express Online.)

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