Hyderabad: Three million patients from abroad sought medical treatment in India in 2015-16. What is called the ‘medical tourism industry’ is expected to grow to 10 million patients by 2019.
In Hyderabad, the Apollo Group of Hospitals treated the most overseas patients — 1.5 lakh. Ten other major hospitals in the city catered to another 20,000 patients.
Dr H.N. Garg, director of International Indian Wellness and Medical Tourism Association, says that “Apollo Hospitals is the only group that ensures that the patient from the foreign country comes to their hospital. They have ensured that the patients are not lured to other hospitals by brokers, agents or even translators at the airport. Their paper work is meticulous, which is very important for these patients. That is one of the reasons they have such high numbers.”
A majority of the foreign patients are from Africa, the Commonwealth of Independent States, and the United Arab Emirates. The number of patients from the UAE has seen a drop in the past three years, from 1.5 lakh in 2013 to 70,000 in 2015 and 95,000 in 2016.
The association has asked all hospitals to pay attention to these patients and address the issues of harassment that they face. Dr P.N. Rao from a corporate hospital said, “Patients from the UAE have relatives or friends here and they compare rates of various hospitals. Sometimes after the surgery, they find that they have been charged more or feel they would have got better treatment elsewhere."
Patients from Africa and CIS contact the hospital and follow all the modalities and instructions given to them. Dr Garg says many patients come for dental treatment, liver, heart and orthopaedic procedures.