Exciting opportunities in medical tourism

India’s post-liberalisation state-of-the-art hospitals, well-qualified doctors and low medical costs are attracting a rising number of patients from developed countries with ageing populations.

medical tourism

India’s post-liberalisation state-of-the-art hospitals, well-qualified doctors and low medical costs are attracting a rising number of patients from developed countries with ageing populations.

With costs of medical care particularly surgical procedures, having soared beyond middle class affordability, and waiting lists in public hospitals in developed OECD countries becoming longer, medical tourism has emerged as a new high-potential business in India with even the Union tourism ministry pitching India as a global health destination in a big way. Currently an estimated 400,000-500,000 medical tourists from over 60 countries are treated in hospitals across India every year. This country’s post-liberalisation state-of-the-art hospitals, well-qualified doctors, lower medical costs, and shorter waiting periods for surgeries are attracting a rising number of patients from developed nations with ageing populations. Informed estimates indicate that healthcare tourism will rake in over $9 billion (Rs.900 crore) annually by 2020. Naturally a large number of career opportunities has become available in this booming industry.

India’s upmarket, fully-equipped and efficient corporate hospitals offer high-quality affordable healthcare facilities to medical tourists. Among them are the Apollo Group of hospitals, Fortis Healthcare, Manipal Hospitals, Wockhardt International Group, Medanta Medicity, and Asian Health Assist Worldwide (an affiliate of the Asian Heart Institute).

Healthcare professionals believe India’s medical tourism market is growing by 25-30 percent per annum and is set to generate 40 million new jobs over the next few years. Therefore exciting career opportunities in medical marketing services, public relations, international insurance, travel and tourism, logistics management and hospital administration have become available to youth interested in this non-traditional career.

With the exponential growth of medical tourism as a business in its own right, almost all large-scale healthcare corporates and private sector hospitals have tied up with travel firms, airlines, hotels, car rentals, ayurvedic spas etc to offer customised healthcare-cum-leisure travel packages to medical tourists. This has led to rising demand for spa therapists and managers, public relations personnel, travel advisors, insurance facilitators, interpreters, chefs and tour planners with internationalisation options.

medical tourismSTUDY PROGRAMMES. As yet there aren’t any specialised study programmes in medical tourism per se. However professionals with marketing, PR, travel and tourism qualifications are highly valued by healthcare companies and hospital chains. While a postgraduate programme with medical tourism as an elective is as yet a distant possibility, several institutes offer Masters programmes in healthcare, hospital administration and diplomas in travel and tourism which are accepted qualifications. Among institutes offering

MBA in hospital administration are
 Madurai Kamaraj University, Madurai
 Bharathidasan University, Tiruchirapally (M.Sc in healthcare and hospital administration)
 Sri Ramachandra Medical College, Chennai (MBA in health management).

For MBA diplomas in travel, tourism and aircargo management, among the best educators are the
 Indian Institute of Tourism & Travel Management, New Delhi
 Kerala Institute of Tourism & Travel Studies (KITTS), Thiruvananthapuram
 Indian Institute of Tourism and Travel Management, Gwalior
 Pondicherry University

REMUNERATION PROSPECTS. Being a sunrise industry, career progression is fast and remuneration packages are well above industry average. Medically qualified professionals who perform life-saving rejuvenation and cosmetic surgeries could earn Rs.1-2 crore and others Rs.10-50 lakh per annum. As Nobel laureate author V.S. Naipaul famously observed, individuals needing life-saving heart surgery seldom waste time negotiating the bill.

(Excerpted from 101 Great Careers for the 21st Century by Indra Gidwani, 2016)

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