Medical tourism in India, or health and wellness tourism, refers to the industry in which people from across the globe travel to India to get medical care, and at the same time, visit our local attractions.
Our medical tariffs are lower when you value them in dollars or pounds. For example, a root canal costs about INR 1,500 in India, while the same procedure costs about INR 10,000-15,000 (at least) in the UK. A heart bypass procedure costs roughly $140,000 without any insurance in the US. The same procedure, however, costs only around $7,000.
The same ratio holds good for other medical procedures. People who need surgeries end up saving the most.
Doctors in top Indian hospitals are skilled and experience and the treatment doled out is almost as good as that available in developed nations.
India hosts about 1.27 million medical tourists every year from countries such as the US, UK, and Canada, in addition to visitors from neighbouring countries like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and China.
Many professionals have already set up niche and local medical tourism businesses and you can do the same and end up making a whole lot of cash from it. Here’s how:
How to Become A Medical Tourism Facilitator
A medical tourism facilitator is an educator, organizer, bridge and an advocate, all rolled into one.
He educates the patient on the destination options available, top hospitals, their accreditations, certifications and affiliations. He also guides the patient (customer) on doctors and travel.
He organizes the travel and hotel bookings, consultation bookings with the provider (doctor/hospital) and arranges appropriate insurance and other formalities. He assists with the schedule of the medical appointments, during and even after the treatment.
He bridges the language barrier and time-zone difference between the provider and the patient.
He acts as an advocate for his client, who is from an alien land and therefore in a vulnerable position.
What do you need to start your medical tourism business
- Understanding the legalities of what it takes to start such a business in your state/city.
- Networking with hospitals and other medical facilities, and entering into a memorandum of understanding with them. Most hospitals offer commissions, but you need to be well connected and a skillful negotiator to get the hospital management to sigh on the dotted line.
- A website that informs viewers about your company, services, facilities and tie-ups. Your website also must have a regularly updated blog.
- Tie-ups with travel agencies (for flight bookings), hotels, insurance companies and transport facilitators (cabs, etc.). These companies also will be happy to pay you a commission and therefore you must enter into an appropriate understanding with each company in writing.
- You also need to file documents like patient waivers that outline your role in the process, and understand the patient’s privacy protection regulations.
The Medical Tourism Process
- Patient contacts the medical tourism facilitator and makes an enquiry
- Facilitator mails information along with treatment (destinations/providers).
- Facilitator is hired after meetings. An agreement is signed.
- Facilitator gets medical history, tests reports etc. He hands them over to a chosen provider.
- Provider reviews the case and provides an estimate.
- A con-call is arranged with the patient and the doctor by the facilitator.
- The procedure is scheduled.
- Waiver (Agreement) is signed and returned clearly outlining the role of the facilitator in the process.
- The patient makes the payment as mutually agreed.
- Facilitator arranges flight and accommodation.
- Patient receives detailed information.
- Patient arrives at the destination and is met by the facilitator. He checks in the hotel/ medical institution.
- Pre-tests of the patient are conducted and the patient meets his doctor.
- Patient undergoes the medical procedure.
- Patient recovers and is discharged from the hospital/ medical institution. He checks out of the hotel and then the follow-up protocols are initiated.
- Patient returns home and the facilitator follows up by monitoring his recovery process.
- Facilitator leverages positive patient experiences and posts testimonials on his website.
Most Indian cities that are home to top hospitals (Tata, Fortis, Escorts, Ambani, etc.) are hotbeds of medical tourism. The commission percentage varies depending on your bargaining power and networking abilities. If you are experienced in attracting clients, you will be offered a higher percentage.
If you are seriously considering this option and feel that you have the knowledge or charisma to attract patients from abroad, jump headlong into this business. You will be surprised to learn that some medical tourism facilitators earn much more than surgeons!
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