The medical tourism industry in India has a potential to contribute around 25 per cent to the country's gross domestic product over the next five years if fully-tapped, according to Varsha Lafargue, founder and chairperson of Indian Medical Tourism Conference and Alliance (IMTCA).
“The sector right now is highly unorganised, where only a handful of hospitals and doctors are reaping benefits. Given the existing infrastructure, highly skilled doctors and medical professionals and low-cost health services, if fully tapped, the sector may see a five-fold increase in its contribution to the GDP from the current less than five per cent,” she said.
Medical tourism boom is happening in other Asian countries including Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, whereas India is losing out to its competitors due to many factors.
The sector faces shortcomings such as - no transparency in billing system, low patient flow, no common platform available to promote country's medical tourism as a whole and inadequate and limited patient documentation.
She pointed out medical tourism had become a major source of national income in many countries such as Israel and Jordan -- the latter gets 5 per cent of its GDP from medical tourism and Israel gets in double-digit.
According to estimates, India’s share in the global medical tourism industry will reach around 3 per cent by 2013-end. The growth of medical tourism industry is marked globally, encompassing around 50 countries in all continents. Asia itself generates revenues in billions and consists of 12.7 per cent of the global market.
Major healthcare players in India such as Apollo and Fortis have reported 10 per cent of their revenues from the medical tourism segment.
IMTCA is a not-for-profit international multidisciplinary organisation that promotes excellence in research, treatment and provision of better and alternative healthcare, provides education and training, acts as a platform for doctors and international patients and creates awareness on global opportunities.
IMCTA, which started recently, has 75 members for its first chapter. “We plan to conduct two-three conferences a year across cities and aim to get 300-400 members per conference,” she said.