Healthcare in India has become a beacon of hope, serving millions of patients in countries within a 10,000 km radius. From Liberia in the west to Fiji in the east, India is synonymous with high quality medical care. With the resumption of flights from April, the greatest joy came from these countries, where patients have been waiting for 20 to 24 months to reach India again.
And above all, it came from our neighbors in Bangladesh. More than 1 million Bangladeshi patients come to India for medical treatment every year, accounting for 56% of the total patient flow to India. Together they generate around $2 billion in foreign exchange every year for hospitals and hospitality in Chennai, Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata and even Ahmedabad.
Apart from Bangladeshis, India also receives many patients from Uzbekistan, Krgysthan, Nepal, Oman, Iraq, Yemen and almost all African countries. Patients from developed countries come to India for Ayurveda and other wellness treatments. These treatments are especially popular in Germany, Russia and the Gulf countries where travelers go to Ayurvedic resorts across Kerela. Recently, American and Canadian patients have also started coming to India for advanced treatments such as proton therapy.
This generates $4-5 billion in foreign exchange for the country, making India the second most popular medical travel destination in Asia and among the largest in the world.
And its only set to improve from now on.
Medical care costs have seen 200% inflation in the United States over the past 2 decades, which is the highest of any industry. At the same time, flight costs have halved over the past 2 decades, making it cheaper to fly, get treatment, enjoy vacations and fly back, than it is to take many treatments locally in the country. This is why many NRIs come to India when they need major dental treatment.
To accelerate this growth, Indian health travel startups are raising capital and rapidly growing their customer base. With India offering the highest economy, the country’s startups are best positioned to dominate the $78 billion space and build the largest and most profitable healthcare travel platform in the world. They not only address opportunities in healthcare, but also ecosystem opportunities in patient accommodation, telehealth, and drug delivery.
Complementing the unprecedented effort of the Government of India to rapidly grow this industry to $13 billion by 2026. Guided by our Prime Minister’s vision to make HealinIndia the biggest brand of the decade, the Indian Ministry of Health is working under the leadership of Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya, to make India the No.1 destination for medical tourism. Various initiatives are underway through government and industry bodies such as FICCI and SEPC, to pave the way for 2 million international patients visiting India every year.
To cope with this growth, hospitals are expanding in metropolitan cities, adding thousands of beds to their capacity. Tier 1 chains such as Max, Manipal, Fortis and Apollo hospitals are leading this growth. Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences (AIMS) is about to launch India’s largest private hospital in Faridabad with a capacity of 2400 beds. IVF chains are also thriving in various cities led by Nova, ART Fertility and India’s latest health tech unicorn, Pristyn Care.
This increase in income will not only generate jobs, but will also lead to increased investment in medical devices and advanced technologies, thereby strengthening India’s position in the global healthcare space.