INDIA, MALAYSIA, SINGAPORE: How Indian medical tourism can improve
29 Jan, 2015

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Indian medical tourism is falling further behind Asian rivals, so the government must act now, according to Zahabiya Khorakiwala of Wockhardt Hospitals, a leader in Indian medical tourism.

Despite India offering low priced care, people are not going to India in any numbers, as the country needs to focus more on quality and the government must offer real support.

The Medical Visa (M-visa) has helped increase numbers but the process needs to be simplified. Patients have to physically visit the embassy and present much paperwork to get the visa sanctioned. Electronic medical visa systems for all must be introduced.

While cost remains important, the quality of care is becoming more important for the patient. Asian neighbours compete with India mostly not on price but perception of quality offered.

Government should ensure that quality becomes the focus for healthcare providers in India. This is necessary to ensure long – term mutually beneficial relationships and curb only price based competition. Focus on quality will also open new markets.

While post-operative care in clinical terms is taken care of, the non-clinical facilities are a major concern. Patients need affordable and secure tourist friendly places to make their stay comfortable.

The public infrastructure in India – roads, public transport, cleanliness, air connectivity, are all areas where India rates below competitors like Singapore and Malaysia.

The government has to take the initiative in communicating the quality care offered in India. India is largely unregulated on medical practice. Laws ensuring safety and evidence based medical practice will help India convey quality focus.

There is a need to simplify regulations like the ones required for transplants. At some places a patient has to wait months before approval is given. While curbing malpractices is essential, the legal framework acts as a deterrent.

While India has huge potential in terms of services it can offer, the country’s highly fragmented and individual private hospitals work on their individual strategies. The government needs to set up a council and give direction at the macro level to regulate and facilitate business growth.

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