Three-year-old Anas Rahman from Dhaka, suffering from a rare heart condition, was brought to India by his father for surgery. The operation – expected to be over in three hours – dragged on for nearly eight. As time trundled on, Anas’ father began losing his composure, urging the hospital staff to take him to his son. His request was however impossible to fulfill.
Two years have passed and Anas now keeps busy with the rough and tumble of kindergarten. His recovery is a testament to the limitless potential of the healthcare bridge between India and Bangladesh. Several hundr of thousands of patients flow into India every year from across the world looking for affordable healthcare that is inaccessible to them in their home countries. These patients come not only from our neighbor countries, but also from Middle East, Central Asia and Africa with one common thread – they are all citizens of emerging nations. Private healthcare in India offers them the infrastructure and access to healthcare professionals with appropriate experience and expertise that their home countries lack.
As a treatment destination, India’s private healthcare sector offers a cost advantage between 30 and 90 per cent over other competing destinations. Furthermore, inbound patients have the full spectrum of options to choose from. Whether it’s a no-frills hospital offering unparalleled savings or the 7 Star experience of an international patient lounge with hors d’oeuvres flowing round the clock, there’s a hospital to match the expectations of patients cutting across socio-economic classes. In addition a variety of treatments are available and patients find super specialists in every conceivable field, from advanced oncological surgeries to hair transplants.
India is the second largest healthcare tourism destination in the world, after Thailand. Growing annually at a rate of 30 per cent, it’s 20 per cent faster than the global average – the industry is projected to be worth 8 billion dollars by 2019. However, India’s emergence as a healthcare hub for emerging nations isn’t limited to healthcare tourism. The same infrastructure, know-how and qualified professionals that buttress India’s dominance as a medical destination have enabled its private sector to assume a considerable role in providing healthcare overseas.
Leveraging the brand and relationships they’ve cultivated through their pursuit of international patients, and the resources at their disposal – Indian entities have made a foray into various overseas healthcare markets. In Africa, Middle East and other parts of the world, Hospital chains from India are aggressively setting up hospitals or super specialty departments in collaboration with local hospitals and OPD Clinics.
While Narayana Health from Bengaluru has established a hospital in the Cayman Islands to capture patient flow from continental America, the HCG group from the same city has cancer treatment centres in Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya – and upcoming facilities in several other countries. Delhi’s Primus has a multispecialty hospital in Nigeria, which is one of the major healthcare facilities in the capital city Abuja.
In addition to the plethora of greenfield and brownfield projects undertaken, Indian hospitals are lending their expertise to organisations in these regions in the form of operations and maintenance partners and consultants. Furthermore, Indian hospitals are pushing the envelope in evolving spaces such as remote healthcare. Apollo made a momentous move towards delivering remote healthcare in Africa by collaborating with Airtel, which has significant presence across the continent. Various other hospitals are engaged in a bouquet of services ranging from surgical camps to remote diagnostics in this region and others.
Whether it is inbound patients finding solutions to their medical ne in India or outbound services from Indian hospitals that ameliorate healthcare in emerging nations – these bilateral bridges are fast positioning India as a healthcare hub for these regions. Beyond hospitals, a crop of startups are playing a pivotal role in this process. Startups have sprung up to provide information and tour management services to patients travelling overseas for treatment. Leviathan Healthcare (LH) was founded in 2013 as one of the first organised and neutral healthcare tourism platforms. It has since expanded to provide consulting and outsourcing services to Indian hospitals seeking to operate in Africa, Middle East and South Asia. LH leverages its presence in foreign markets and its on-ground resources to enable its clients to engage with these regions thus playing its part in nurturing the healthcare bridge. This bridge is alleviating the quality of healthcare services in emerging nations and providing greater treatment options to their patients, while simultaneously reaping rich dividends for the Indian economy.