Medical Tourism

Lower hospital bills fuel medical tourism

HYDERABAD: India has seen a 166% increase in medical tourism since 2014. According to data recently put out by Union ministry of tourism, the number of people entering India on medical visas jumped from 75,688 in 2014 to 2,01,333 in 2016.

Several thousands of patients among them visit Hyderabad, reports The Times of India.

Even as the Centre has much to pat its back about, especially with steps being taken to make entry and stay of medical tourists easier, travellers share bitter experiences in availing peripheral services.

Take for example Azzan Said, a Kenyan national, who recently visited Hyderabad for his relative’s treatment. “I was fleeced by the cabs at the airport. They levied a much higher price on my travel. Since we don’t know the local dynamics, we often end up spending much more on medical expenses and travelling than normal prices,” said Said.

Challenges in availing ne cessary services also adds to the frustration. “Though the cost of treatment itself may be lesser than in the West, other services involved, such as accommodation for family members, travel, and communication with the hospital staff, tends to be frustrating,” said Winston David, another person who travelled from Nigeria.

While India offers economical medical pricing as compared to the West, industry observers find various loopholes in offering seamless medical facilities to domestic and international travellers.

“There are glaring gaps in services that leave patients and those caring for them at a disadvantage leading to sub-optimal services and low patient satisfaction.Most of the international patients visit hospitals through agents. Due to lack of knowledge about the local dynamics, a majority of patients perennially fear being cheated,” said Swadeep Srivastava, founder and managing partner, India Virtual Hospital, a tech-enabled specialised medical concierge service addressing the needs of medical travellers (domestic & international).

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