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Medical Value Tourism: An Add On To India's Economic Growth

The Indian economy could add USD 9 billion by 2026 through the use of traditional medicine, wellness, Ayurvedic therapy, yoga and wellness, combined with exercise focuses on the curative aspects of healthcare

Medical tourism

Over the years, India has become a top attractive destination for travellers from all over the world to receive world-class clinical treatments, energise and rejuvenate. Hence, in 2023, Medical Value Travel (MVT) is expected to boost tremendously.

India is ranked 10th out of 46 destinations globally by the Medical Tourism Association in the 2020-21 Medical Tourism Index (MTI) and 12th in the top 20 wellness tourism markets globally, and in APAC it ranks 5th in the tourism market. The country's main advantage is the price at which it can provide world-class quality healthcare which, together with complementary treatments in Ayurveda, gives it a unique position in holistic healthcare.

Sunil Talati, Chairman of the Services Export Promotion Council (SEPC), set up by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry said, "The opening up of the world has increased the influx of patients in India as it is one of the most affordable destinations for MVT. What makes us unique is that besides offering mainstream healthcare, we offer a holistic approach to wellness and health, good infrastructure and ease of communication. Post-pandemic, India is coming into its own and is at the forefront of MVT globally."

"The outlook for 2023 needs to look at Medical Value Tourism to help catapult the economy. Currently, India has an 18 per cent share of the global medical tourism market. The way forward is to become one of the leading choices for MVT," he said.

As per reports, the Indian economy could add USD 9 billion by 2026 through the use of traditional medicine, wellness, Ayurvedic therapy, yoga and wellness, combined with exercise focuses on the curative aspects of health lcare. Overall, the global MVT market is expected to grow from USD 13.98 billion in 2021 to USD 53.51 billion in 2028 at a CAGR of 21.1 per cent during the forecast period 2021-2028.

Role of Industry Players towards MVT

One of the factors driving medical tourism is the quality of healthcare. As competition in the healthcare tourism market becomes increasingly fierce, industry players have adopted several strategies to increase the value and quality of their services to set themselves apart from their competitors.

Some of these strategies include the availability of state-of-the-art health infrastructure, expanding training and expertise in specific medical specialities, and establishing close partnerships with hospitals and leading healthcare organisations, while investing in technology and precision medicine. 

Rajeev Taneja, Founder and CEO of Global Care said, "India is known as the land of rich, ancient knowledge when it comes to wellness. Be it yoga, Ayush or spirituality, the globe has often looked towards our country as an answer to healing. The government, supporting organisations, industry players and other stakeholders are working actively towards promoting MVT in India. Provisions like the Ayush Visa by the government will help oversea patients access MVT in India. This includes Ayurveda, naturopathy, Unani, homoeopathy, medicine, wellness etc."

"The various organisations via policies and promotion have been synergising the efforts to promote MVT and wellness tourism by focusing on developing a brand for India as a wellness destination, strengthening the ecosystem for medical and wellness tourism, enabling digitalisation by setting up online MVT portal, enhancing accessibility for MVT, promoting wellness tourism and augmenting governance and institutional framework," he said.

Governmental support towards MVT

The government's policy called 'Heal in India' is expected to drive patients from different countries and boost medical tourism majorly.

The MVT sector in India is supported by 40 healthcare organisations accredited by the Joint Commission International (JCI) and 1,400 NABH-accredited hospitals providing quality care. MVT contributes about 10 per cent of revenue for many large hospital chains and could grow to 12-15 per cent in the next two years, despite the need to address the overall healthcare infrastructure.

Talati said, "Government has made several concerted and coordinated efforts, including outreach programmes, exhibitions, seminars, delegations, policies etc to position India as a leading wellness destination and raise awareness among developed countries about our state-of-the-art medical services. From providing Ayush Visa -a new category of 'Medical Visa'  for overseas patients to holding global events like Heal in India, the government is working proactively to position India as ‘The Wellness Destination’."

Amit Sharma, Founder and CEO of eExpedise Healthcare said, "The growth of the Indian Medical Tourism Industry can be accredited to both government and private players. By making the process simple and seamless along with drafting policies ensuring complete transparency and patient safety, the government is strengthening the cause. For instance, policies such as the introduction of Medical VISA and e-Medical VISA allowing multiple entries and longer stays as per medical conditions have been implemented. Further, the government is actively mandating accreditations to wellness centres and Medical Value Travel (MVT) facilitators. The recently-launched Ayushman Bharat Yojana stands as a testament to active government involvement in the provision of holistic healthcare."

"The country has understood the significance and the immense potential for medical tourism to thrive in the global market. Through initiatives such as launching several incentive schemes for healthcare providers and promoting them in international events, an effective public-private partnership is emerging in the sector. This, along with the cost benefits and localised resource advantages, is strengthening India’s position as a high-potential hub in the medical tourism market," he said.



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