Startups tap into demand in medical tourism


The medical tourism space seems to be attracting increased interest from several startup founders. New age companies are now offering end-to-end assistance to patients visiting India from other countries for treatments and surgeries. These companies earn either on a per patient basis or through an exclusive agreement.

Under the proprietary model, startups like Meditourz make a deal with hospitals to bring in patients from a particular country and that region is reserved for them. Under a revenue-per-patient model, startups like Healthtrip collect a commission from hospitals on every patient they bring in – the higher the number, the higher the revenue.

Denmark’s Ahmed, co-founder of Healthtrip, which operates on a per-patient model, said his company recorded annual recurring revenue (ARR) of around $6 million in 2019 and is on track to close the fiscal year 2023 at an ARR of around $20. million. That number would more than double to around $50 million in FY24, he said, pointing to the industry’s potential. “We are currently bringing in approximately 3,000 patients per month and are looking to increase that number to 9,000 each month by the end of this fiscal year. Last year, we were serving about 300 patients, but that number was also low due to pandemic restrictions. There is a high demand for Indian medical services from all over the world,” Ahmed said.

Healthtrip, formerly known as Hospals, raised approximately $3.5 million from 9Unicorns and CRED’s Kunal Shah, among others, in January 2022, according to Tracxn data. The company is already working on its Series A to raise around $5 million to fund its growth plans, Ahmed said.

The companies, which apply the per-patient model, said their take-up or commissions were between 20% and 25%, depending on the treatment and services used, the founders said. Under the exclusive deal model, commissions were higher — at around 40%. Aashnee Gajaria, co-founder of Meditourz, said, “We spend between $1,000 to acquire a client and earn around $1,400 on average per patient. The average ticket amount was around $7,000 for the space we are treating – the regenerative treatment. »

However, the high customer acquisition cost (CAC) has not proven to be a deterrent, primarily due to the potential return on investment (ROI) generated by the business, several founders explained. They said CACs remain broadly similar regardless of revenue model. Interestingly, medical tourism companies do not charge patients. Hospitals pay commissions to these startups and companies because they bring in a huge influx of patients which otherwise would not have happened.

Healthtrip, Meditourz, PlanMyMedicalTrip, MedMonks, TreatGo, PSTakeCare, Oxa Health, Vaidam, and Lyfboat are a few players in the space, according to Tracxn data. In India, there are currently only about 59 active startups in the industry.

Globally, 178 new-age companies are venturing into this space. Between 2017 and 2020, patients from Bangladesh remained the top visitors to India, accounting for 54.3% of the total influx. Iraq, Afghanistan and the Maldives follow with 9.1%, 8.9% and 6.1% respectively, according to the latest available government data. Citizens of Oman, Kenya, Myanmar and Sri Lanka were other participants, among many others.

The founders and companies said Indian medical services appear to be lucrative for two main reasons: either the treatment patients need is not available in their home country, or India turns out to be significantly cheaper in terms of overall costs.

Heart surgery would cost around $5,000 in India, $18,500 in Thailand and north of $100,000 in the United States, all inclusive, Healthtrip’s Ahmed said. The quality of operations does not take a hit despite the reduction in costs, he added.

Thailand, Mexico, the United States, Singapore, India, Brazil, Turkey and Taiwan are the top destinations in terms of patient numbers for medical value travel, according to Indian government data.

In 2020, the global market was worth $10 billion and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.1% to reach the $37 billion mark in five years, according to data from Global Market Intelligence ( GMI), shown.

Lack of government support till 2020, poor hygiene practices in Indian hospitals, long trust process with patients, competition from hospitals and general tourism companies and language gap were some barriers to the entry according to several founders FE spoke to.


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