The Indian medical tourism industry is about see to high levels of adrenaline as patients from China increasingly look to their Southern neighbour for cheap medical drugs, high quality treatment and professional doctors.
According to a report by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce (Ficci) and KPMG accounting firm in September 2014, India has become the world’s fastest-growing medical tourism market receiving more than 230,000 medical tourism visitors, mostly from the West.
India’s medical tourism market is expected to more than double in size from US$ 3 billion at present to around US$ 8 billion by 2020, according to a CII – Grant Thornton white paper. Almost 80 years after Dr. Kotnis went to China in a humble mission to help injured Chinese soliders, many Indian hospitals, Inchin Closer is talking to – are looking at attracting Chinese patients – especially oncology patients.
The lure is simple, while oncology treatments costs an arm and a leg in China, the costs are substantially low in India. Take for example, in Russia heart surgery costs US$ 20,000, but it only costs US$ 6,000 in India. Prices for liver transplants in the United States are more than US$ 200,000, but only US$ 14,000 in India. Robotic knee surgery can cost up to US$ 80,000 in the Middle East and Australia, while in India for just costs US$ 10,000.
Its not only the price that Indian hospitals are luring Chinese medical tourists with, its also their high quality of treatment. In a survey recently conducted amongst 4,200 cases of cardiac surgery, the mortality rate was only 0.8 percent and infection rate 0.3 percent. Comparatively, during the same year in Western countries, heart surgery mortality rate was as high as 1.2 percent and infection 1 percent.
Furthermore, unlike China, doctors in India are not connected to any particular hospital, therefore they don’t have any incentive to prescribe a patient extra medicine, or recommend patients do unnecessary tests. Even a box of medicine can be opened to sell, according to the needs of the patient. In a bid to attract Chinese investment in India’s Tourism sector, Vinod Zutshi, Secretary, Ministry of Tourism also visited Shanghai recently with a delegation of medical industry owners.
Having attracted rich patients from Saudi Arabia and the Middle East, India is now confident of capturing the Chinese audience. Indian and Chinese medical practices date back several millennia and are similar in thought, additionally as more Chinese suffer from diabetes and cancer – lifestyle diseases as a result of a sudden change in the economy – an increasingly number of Chinese will need medical treatment. With disposable incomes growing, China is a low hanging fruit for many Indian hospitals and pharmaceutical companies.