India

India is the largest democracy in the world. It is a land of variations, where you can find diversity in landscape, climate, food, clothing, language, religion, culture and tradition. Medical tourism has a long history in India. Plastic surgery originated in 3500 BC in ancient India Aside from Chennai, the main hub for cosmetic surgery in India is Chandigarh, home to several clinics dedicated to plastic surgery.

India is also home to some of the world’s fastest-growing medical infrastructure (MedTrava). The greatest concentration of medical facilities is found in Chennai, though other major cities such as Delhi and Mumbai have ample medical infrastructure of their own. Chennai (formerly Madras) is considered the hub of medical tourism, attracting up to 40 per cent of all patients. The Indian health and medical industry is large and boasts some well-developed infrastructure, particularly in big cities that support the wealthy classes.

India’s medical tourism industry is growing very fast (Discover Medical Tourism). Experts project annual growth as high as 30 percent in the coming years. India’s medical tourism sector is expected to experience an annual growth rate of 30%, making it a Rs. 9,500-crore industry by 2015. Estimates of the value of medical tourism to India go as high as $2 billion a year by 2012.

These services include advanced cardiology and cardiovascular surgery, orthopedics and joint replacement surgery, bariatric & minimally invasive surgery, cosmetology, oncology and neurology amongst others. Among these specialties, cardiology is at the forefront.

Hip resurfacing is one of the leading procedures sought in India. Specialists here are trained in the Birmingham technique, a specialized procedure that has received unparalleled international praise. Birmingham hip resurfacing is largely unavailable in the US.

Clinics typically specialize in a particular field or a specific elective operation such as dental work, cosmetic surgery and minor orthopedic operations.

Some of the most common plastic surgical procedures include nose reshaping, breast surgeries, body contouring, liposuction and tummy tucks, all of which cost about 10 percent of the price tourists would normally expect to pay in the US. Botox, fillers and face-lifts are also available in India. Tourists come from the UK, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Middle East, Africa and India.

The most popular treatments sought in India by medical tourists are alternative medicine, bone-marrow transplant, cardiac bypass surgery, eye surgery and orthopedic surgery. India is known in particular for heart surgery, hip resurfacing and other areas of advanced medicines.

Advantages

Aside from the high quality of care available in India, the country also fosters a high level of enthusiasm often overlooked in Western hospitals. Indians are proud of their country’s leading role as an international health care provider, which is reflected in medical staff attitudes.

As hospitals expand and new clinics are built, India is increasingly able to offer world-class facilities, including private recovery suites and personalized care at affordable prices. Annual growth is projected to be 30 percent in the coming years.

Hospitals are staffed with competent English speakers, as English has been one of the country’s official language since independence. Visitors have few problems communicating with their doctors and nurses.

The favorable exchange rates between India and western countries mean that patients can afford treatments that would only be available to the wealthy at home.

India is the cheapest of any of the world medical tourism destinations, while being the equal of the other major destinations in terms of quality of staff and equipment. With many brand-new state-of-the-art hospitals and western trained doctors.

The lack of waiting lists in India is especially attractive to those suffering from grave illnesses such as cancer or heart disease. Many countries have developed links for speedy treatments in India for their nationals because in these countries one has to wait for extended periods to undergo operations.

The remarkable success of the medical tourism field means hospitals are able to attract first-rate doctors and nurses. Many mistakenly assume that any accomplished physician would leave India in search of a career in the West. Instead, many of the world’s leading doctors are found right here in India. In addition, many government-sponsored programs send students overseas to study at prestigious universities, requiring them to return and perform a few years’ domestic service in return.

Ten Indian hospitals carry JCI accreditation.

Medical services do not stop as soon as the patient returns home. Medical tourism bureaus will ensure that the patient’s physician at home has a full record of the discharge notes including details of the surgical procedure undertaken, X-rays, MRI scans etc. from the Indian hospital to ensure the follow up care and any physiotherapy is integrated.

Disadvantages

As with other medical tourism destinations, quality varies considerably, and medical tourists should not neglect due diligence. While there are many world-class hospitals and physicians, others can be inexpensive and low quality. In addition, due to the heat and difficulty traveling in some areas, it can be difficult to enjoy tourism after significant operations.

As with other tropical destinations, North American and European tourists can be susceptible to tropical diseases. In large cities, crime can pose a significant danger. Legal protections against malpractice are less than many tourists are accustomed to: although India’s legal system is built on English law, the system works very slowly, and awards pale in comparison to the U.S. Finally, for North American and European tourists, India is far away, so aftercare can be an issue if complications develop once they have returned home.

Cost Comparisons

Procedure

UK (USD)

India (USD)

Hip resurfacing $15,750 $7,000
Hip replacement $14,000 $6,190
Coronary bypass $24,544 $7,044
Liposuction $5,250 $2,476
Breast augmentation $7,613 $2,972
Face lift $11,813 $3,750
Abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) $8,418 $3,001
Porcelain crown $998 $133
Full acrylic dentures $1,750 $401
Dental implants/Branemark $3,500 $963

Procedure

United States (USD)

India (USD)

Bypass $30,000 $5,000
Liver transplant $300,000 $30,000
Hip replacement $20,000 $3,000
Radiography therapy $10,000 $2,000
Dental implants (per tooth) $3,500 $900
Laser tooth whitening (per tooth) $800 $120
Chief source: Compare the Cost of Elective Surgery Abroad, Treatment Abroad

Additional Information

Select Sources for Medical Travel India

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