AN REVIEW ON MEDICAL TOURISM: A NEW THRUST AREA FOR TOURISM
Paresh Mohan*, Saurabh Patel, Shobhit Sharma, Mahaveer Prasad Kabra
Department of Pharmaceutics, Kota College of Pharmacy,
S-P-1, RIICO Industrial Area, Ranpur, Jhalawar road,
Kota, Rajasthan, India – 324009.
Medical tourism is becoming a new thrust area for tourists across the globe. It is predominantly combined with travel and tourism. The term medical tourism has been coined by travel agencies and the mass media to describe the rapidly growing practice of travelling across all around the world to obtain hi-tech medical care. Various countries like Thailand, Malaysia, India, etc are promoting medical tourism eagerly. The key advantages of India in medical tourism are the following: low cost advantage, strong reputation in the advanced healthcare segment (cardiovascular surgery, organ transplants, eye surgery etc.) and the diversity of tourist destinations available in the country which attracts like culture, food etc.
The most of the people of many countries have long traveled to the developed countries like United States and Europe to seek the expertise and advanced technology available in leading medical centers. This paper focuses on the key issues and opportunities possessed by Indian medical tourism sector that enable it to overcome domestic and international barriers on upgrading its medical services. Finally, this paper analyses and concludes the main reasons why the developing country like India attracts foreign tourists for the medical treatment.
REFERENCE ID: PHARMATUTOR-ART-1693
In the recent past, a trend known as medical tourism has emerged wherein citizens of highly developed countries choose to bypass care offered in their own communities and travel to less developed areas of the world to receive a wide variety of medical services. Medical tourism is becoming increasingly popular, and it is projected that as many as 750,000 Americans will seek offshore medical care in 2007. [1, 2]
It is important to begin by defining what is meant by ?medical tourism‘. For the purposes of this report we define medical tourism as when consumers elect to travel across international borders with the intention of receiving some form of medical treatment. This treatment may span the full range of medical services, but most commonly includes dental care, cosmetic surgery, elective surgery, and fertility treatment. Setting the boundary of what is health and counts as medical tourism for the purposes of trade accounts is not straightforward. Within this range of treatments, not all would be included within health trade. Cosmetic surgery for aesthetic rather than reconstructive reasons, for example, would be considered outside the health boundary (OECD, 2010,pp.30-31). 
Global competition is emerging in the health care industry. Wealthy patients from developing countries have long traveled to developed countries for high quality medical care. Now, growing numbers of patients from developed countries are traveling for medical reasons to regions once characterized as “third world.” Many of these “medical tourists” are not wealthy, but are seeking high quality medical care at affordable prices. 
The Government of India, State tourism boards, travel agents, tour operators, hotel companies and private sector hospitals are exploring the medical tourism industry for tremendous opportunities. They are seeking to capitalize on the opportunities by combining the country’s popular leisure tourism with medical tourism. The factors that make India as one of the favorable destination for health tourism starts with low medical cost which is one-tenth of the costs in western countries, for example, a heart surgery costs $ 6,000 in India as against $30,000 in the US, Similarly a bone marrow transplant costs $26,000 in India as compared to $2, 50,000 in the US. Foreign patients throng Indian hospitals to pass up the long waiting lists and queues in their native countries. Globalization has promoted a consumerist culture, thereby promoting goods and services that can feed the aspirations arising from this culture. This has had its effect in the health sector too. There are number of reasons for the growth of the service economy and these can be categorized into three main areas such as:
* Social trend
* Demographic trends
* New services to meet new demands
The new services to meet new demand may include the “medical tourism”. Merging healthcare and tourism an industry has been evolved in many developing countries like Greece, South Africa, Jordan, India, Malaysia, Philippines and Singapore. Medical tourism where foreigners travel abroad in search of low cost, world-class medical treatment is gaining popularity in India. India’s medical tourism industry could yield as much as $3 billion in annual revenue by 2012. 
The country has excellent tourist products and now there are efforts to make them world class facilities. Focus is on development of state-of-art infrastructure, accompanied by world class services. Of late there has been a very positive change in the attitude of service providers and they have become customer friendly. For the country to offer world class tourist products technology and innovations are key drivers. The major challenges are lack of proper transport and accommodation in and around several lesser known places but popular destinations. These
are destinations which have the potential of drawing a large number of domestic as well as foreign tourists. Tour operators and destination management companies are developing strong partnership with counterparts abroad for increasing inbound tourism to India. Government is also taking steps to position India as „value for money? destinations among domestic tourists. With the cultural shift taking place in the Indian tourism landscape, families are opting for shorter but more frequent holidays both within and outside the country. This shift is taking place worldwide and people are opting for shorter and more frequent holidays. 
NEED FOR MEDICAL TOURISM:-
Medical tourism can be broadly defined as provision of 'cost effective' private medical care in collaboration with the tourism industry for patients needing surgical and other forms of specialized treatment. This process is being facilitated by the corporate sector involved in medical care as well as the tourism industry - both private and public.
The idea of the health holiday is to offer you an opportunity to get away from your daily routine and come into a different relaxing surrounding. Here you can enjoy being close to the beach and the mountains. At the same time you are able to receive an orientation that will help you improve your life in terms of your health and general well being. It is like rejuvenation and clean up process on all levels - physical, mental and emotional.
Many people from the developed world come to India for the rejuvenation promised by yoga and Ayurvedic massage, but few consider it a destination for hip replacement or brain surgery. However, a nice blend of top-class medical expertise at attractive prices is helping a growing number of Indian corporate hospitals lure foreign patients, including from developed nations such as the UK and the US. As more and more patients from Europe, the US and other affluent nations with high medicare costs look for effective options, India is pitted against Thailand, Singapore and some other Asian countries, which have good hospitals, salubrious climate and tourist destinations. While Thailand and Singapore with their advanced medical facilities and built-in medical tourism options have been drawing foreign patients of the order of a couple of lakhs per annum, the rapidly expanding Indian corporate hospital sector has been able to get a few thousands for treatment.
The Apollo Group, Escorts Hospitals in New Delhi and Jaslok Hospitals in Mumbai are to name a few which are established names even abroad. A list of corporate hospitals such as Global Hospitals, CARE and Dr L.V. Prasad Eye Hospitals in Hyderabad, The Hindujas and NM Excellence in Mumbai, also have built capabilities and are handling a steadily increasing flow of foreign patients. India has much more expertise than say Thailand or Malaysia. The infrastructure in some of India's hospitals is also very good. What is more significant is that the costs are much less, almost one-third of those in other Asian countries. 
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