Doctors give boost to medical tourism in India

New-age doctors from corporate hospitals in Hyderabad have been winging out of the cyber city in dozens for consultations abroad and returning to Hyderabad with ready-to-treat patients.

The result is a multi-fold rose in arrival of foreign patients, especially from over 25 countries in Africa, West Asia and Saarc countries, for treatment including surgeries. An estimated 800-1,000 foreigners are being treated in the erstwhile Nizam’s city every month.

So much so that Apollo Hospitals has set up a dedicated international block in its Jubilee Hills campus only for overseas patients, thanks to referrals made by its 40 member expert team from Hyderabad each month when they attend clinics in these host countries.

“The year-on-year growth of foreign patients at Apollo is about 11%-12%,” said Radhey Mohan, the company’s vice-president for international business development.He said that from their entire group of hospitals, including at Delhi, Chennai and Hyderabad, about 75-80 doctors visit about 75-80 countries each month. The scene is similar at Continental Hospital, a Joint Commission International (JCI) accredited facility that boasts of one out of every eight foreign patients treated in Hyderabad in a day.

“Our growth in foreign patients too is in double digits. At least 10 of our doctors fly abroad every month to attend health camps in specialities like orthopedics, cardiology , oncology in countries as far as Somalia and select patients follow the doctors to Hyderabad for procedures,” said Gokal Prem Kumar, head, international business, Continental Hospitals. Yashoda Hospitals claims to have clocked 75-80% growth in foreign patients compared to its track record in 2011-12, said Dr R Chandrasekhar, its executive vice-president.

In recent times, there has been competition due to emergence of medical tourism in African countries like Kenya, Egypt and West Asian markets like Dubai, Jordon and Turkey, said Chandrasekhar. However, India continues to score over others for the specialities to which it caters.

In fact, many hospitals in Africa and West Asia sign independent memoranda of understanding with select hospital groups in India to treat their foreign patients, giving them exclusive rights to perform surgical procedures on patients from their countries, the doctor said.

For instance, Hyderabad headquartered Global Hospitals that has hospitals in Chennai, Mumbai and Bengaluru is known to enjoy exclusive rights granted by the Sultanate of Oman and the Kingdom of Bahrain for liver transplantation on their citizens.

“The overall contribution of international patients to our business is about 25% in our Chennai hospital, while it is 17-18% in our Bengaluru hospital and about 10% in our Hyderabad hospital unit,” said Dr K Ravindranath, chairman, global hospitals, adding that their entire Global group hospitals send 25-30 doctors for overseas health camps a month.