Will Coronavirus Outbreak Impact India's Medical Tourism Business?

The world has come to a sudden halt since COVID 19 has come into being. Travelling and tourism have suffered significant losses in these tragic times. Still, global medical tourism has been permitted by several countries keeping in mind the severe health conditions of people all over the world.

New Delhi: As of February 17, India had only three confirmed positive cases of the novel coronavirus. The finance minister of India has already announced countrywide that the government are to take measures to help ease the process of manufacturing and supply squeeze that is caused by the novel coronavirus outbreak, the situation is a lot under control in India.

The virus is going to have a severe impact and blow on the economic condition of India. The Indian tour operators have commented that they fear, they are going to lose up to $500 million revenue as more and more tourists are cancelling all their visits to India, both medical and tourism.
The overall trade of travel and tourism has been affected by the impact of COVID 19. India is not an exception. Will the virus outbreak also affect all the medical tourism conducted in India?

Dr Hari Prasad, President of hospital division, Apollo hospital said that overall travels across the globe are it for any purpose has been impacted significantly to and from the countries having an increasing number of cases. However, medical tourism hasn't been affected a lot as of February and March, and the numbers continue to be relatively steady.

The government of India is educating everyone about travelling to India for treatment about the precautions that are to be taken during travel and is also providing them with information on how to stay safe and not get infected directly or indirectly by the virus. He also told about how the officials have taken up a massive awareness campaign in social media and all the airports in the country.

The Federation of Indian chambers of commerce & industry (FICCI), an association of business organization in India, has released a detailed report on the status of India's medical tourism business in November 2019. The story was titled, 'india: building best practices in healthcare services globally 2019', predicted that in the matter of health care services, as India is a developing country, they would become an affordable alternative to the other developed countries, for people on a strict budget, in the coming years.

The released report also quoted that the medical tourism index overall ranking, released in the year 2016. This released index had ranked India at the fifth position among forty-one other major medical tourism destinations all over the world.
Navneet Bali, commander, regional director of Narayana health does not think that the ongoing situation in the east, i.e. the emerging of a deadly virus in Wuhan, China, will have any severe impact on the medical tourism business of India.

Bali also said that would refer to the ongoing situation in the east about the coronavirus the patient flow and the revenue are quite normal. The government will continue to educate and inform people on the precautionary measure that can be adopted and the general hygiene that can be taken up to stay safe and not get infected by the virus. There are many hospitals in India that are well equipped with modern facilities and with great doctors that can work for keeping the ongoing situation under control and can handle in times of crisis. Tele robotics is one such technology.

Dr. Sai Satish, cardiologist, Apollo hospitals greams road Chennai, said that, while the owners of the hospitals are best equipped to give a greater insight to this. The rapid development in the field of, 'tele robotics in coronary and peripheral angioplasty', has a limitless application during a global crisis like this. while performing robotic procedures, the doctor has to stay 30 feet away from the patient. He is optimistic about the fact that they can achieve significant milestones with an internet connection even from miles away.

The medical tourism market in India:

  • Medical tourism is rapidly becoming one of the primary reasons why tourists visit India in the first place. According to the ministry of tourism's data, India's medical tourism will become a $9 billion industry by the end of this year.
  • India's healthcare service providers give the state of the art facilities, advanced care and also great skilled doctors at far lower costs than what the developed countries can provide.
  • Yoga and Ayurveda that is practised in India has emerged as two big attractions for all the foreigners.
  • In 2015, the size of India's medical tourism was $3 billion. It has been five years since then.
  • The number of foreign tourists coming into the country on medical visas increased from 234,000 in 2015 to 495,056 in 2017. 

Who are medical tourists?

The organization for economic co-operation and development describes medical tourists as those who travel across the international borders with the sole intention of receiving some medical treatment.

International patients travel across the borders mainly for dental care, cosmetic surgery, elective surgery and also for fertility treatment. Patients also travel to the foreign border because some treatments are either not available in their own home countries.
Patients also travel to get traditionally unavailable treatments that aren't approved by the FDA in their own countries or covered by health insurance. India's healthcare provides attract foreigners for cancer treatments, transplants and also for cardiac surgery.

As compared to the other developed countries as well as all India's competitors in Asia, patients travelling to India for treatment receive quality healthcare at far lower costs. In India, the savings can start from 64% and can also rise to 90% with the patients receiving quality care.