Medical Tourism- a new model of Marketing


Sumanta Dutta
Faculty Member
Wigan and Leigh College, India, Kolkata
Visiting Faculty
NSHM Business School, Kolkata

"The medical tourism industry needs to be looked upon as an infrastructure industry and not as an industry that provides services."- Naresh Kumar, Chairman, Harvey Group of Hospitals

Medical tourism is an emerging concept. Initiative has been undertaken all over the world to consider medical tourism as a core product. International medical service at affordable price" being considered as the selling point of medical tourism business. Industry estimates show that the size of medical tourism industry stands between Rs.1, 200 crore to Rs.1, 500 crore and is growing at the rate of 30% annually. The Confederation of Indian Industry, Federation of Indian chamber of Commerce and industry, state government bodies like The Tamilnadu Tourism Development Corporation etc taking a positive steps in this direction. In spite of such initiative still, "there is a lack of conscious effort to market medical tourism by our country ."[Prathap Reddy, Chairman, Apollo group Of Hospitals]

What makes India attractive?

As the cost of health care Industry is increasing day by day, patients in the developed world are looking overseas for medical treatment. India's low cost & availability of highly trained doctors appeal to this medical tourists. Previously, foreign patients were traditionally not covered under medical insurance outside their home countries. However, companies like Blue Cross, Blue Shield of US have begun to tie ups with Indian hospitals for providing "customised medial facilities".

 However, the entire picture of Indian health issues is not at all satisfactory. It is alarming for Government to take precautionary initiative to restrict it before it crop up. The table given below clearly shows that good medical facility still remains beyond reach for most of the middle class.




Doctors per 10,000 people



Infant mortality rate per 1,000 children



Population covered under health Insurance



Health Expenditure(% of GDP)



No of Hospital beds per 1,000 people



         Source: World development Indicators, 2004

From the above it may be questionable that what makes India attractive? In short, we can portray the SWOT analysis of Indian medical tourism business.



1) Quality of service
2) Exquisite Locations
3) Alternative medical cures like Yoga, Homeopathy and Ayurveda.

1) Lack of infrastructure
2) Lack of uniform pricing policy
3) Poor infrastructure in Govt. Aided hospitals
4) Lack of proper Institute on medical Instrumentation.



1)  Impact on Forex reserve
2) Contribution in GDP
3) Sharp rise in medical as well as tourism Industry.

1) Foreign players may enter into the market
2) Lack of foreign accrediation

  Source: compiled by authors

Despites its limitations, the opportunities, now become an integral part of Indian service Industry. India's age old tradition provides a holistic health care by connecting mind, body and spirit with yoga, meditation, ayurvedic and other Indian systems of medicine. Such unique value proposition attract a large number of foreign tourist which contributes 5.1% of the GDP and which is estimated to reach 8.5% of GDP by 2012

Generally there are three types of medical tourist:

1) Foreigners coming specially for treatment
2) Foreigners seeking treatment & leisure
3) Expatriates.

Major players In Indian medical tourism:

The National Health Policy actively promoting medical tourim.The main cities attracting foreign patients to India are:

a) Kolkata
b) Chennai
c) Bangalore
d) Mumbai
e) Delhi
f) Jaipur

The hospitals that attract large number of foreign tourist besides Indians are:

1) Apollo Hospital, Delhi
2) All India Institute Of Medical Sciences, Delhi
3) AMRI, Kolkata
4) Christian Medical college, Vellore
5) Wockhardt Hospitals
6) BM Birla Heart Research Centre, Kolkata
g) Manipal Heart Foundation, Bangalore
7) Escort Heart Institute & Research Centre Limited, New Delhi
8) Breach Candy Hospital, Mumbai
9) Escorts  Hospital,Jaipur
10) Asian Heart Institute, Mumbai

Key Challenges before Indian Medical Tourism:

1) Lack of Government support to promote medical tourism
2) Lack Of medical Infrastructure
3) Lack of international accreditation
4) Perception among the foreign tourist as an unhygienic country
5) Strong competition from Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore


However, Medical tourism is the next best thing for India. According to the CII Mackinsey report, Medical Tourism in India is expected to bring revenue of over $2 billion by 2012.The object is to capitalise the low cost advantage and to attract medical tourist by providing attractive packages. Indian tourism Industry should work more in collaboration with the Government department in order to implement the concept-"Atithi devo Bhavo" (a guest is a form of God) as major marketing mantras.

Sumanta Dutta
Faculty Member
Wigan and Leigh College, India, Kolkata
Visiting Faculty
NSHM Business School, Kolkata

Source: E-mail April 1, 2008


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