HYDERABAD: If cost-effective affordable treatment is what attracts foreigners to India, according to experts, what invites most of the international patients to the city is not just its reputed hospitals but, also the Hyderabadi Deccani culture and its association with middle eastern countries. According to major hospitals in the city, most of the international patients are from the middle-east and Africa. “With over 50 per cent of patients from the middle-east and Africa, Hyderabad’s medical tourism scenario is rising at around 20 pe cent per annum and stands 4th in the country,” explains Dr K Hariprasad, CEO, Apollo Hospitals.
Mahinder Pala, GM, strategy marketing at Care Hospitals, says that around 700 plus international tourists visit the city every month. “A lot of patients have friends or relatives in the Old City. Knowing about Hyderabadi culture, they feel more secure in the city. Over the last few months, we have had 50-60 out-patients and around 20 in-patients,” he says.
A good number of international patients also come from south-east Asia and Africa apart from countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and a minimum of 0.1 per cent of them all come from countries like the US and Japan. The most sought after super specialties are Neurology, ENT, Spine and Orthopaedics.
Hospitals also believe that a boom in medical tourism in the city could be due to the development of the international airport at Shamshabad as well as the global marketing of Indian hospital services. “We make prior inquiries and appointments before coming to India for treatment. Most of them maintain a special department for handling international patients,” said a patient from Yemen who did not want to be named.
“We take care of the patient right from applying for a visa to providing budget accommodation for the patient’s relatives, foreign exchange facility, bank transfer facility, co-ordination with Indian embassies for visa, FRRO assistance and local shopping assistance etc. We also have all language interpreters,” said a few of the hospital managers, corroborating what the Yemeni patient said.
One may wonder how the treatment is cost-effective. But Radhey Mohan, senior general manager, international marketing, Apollo Hospitals, points out, “Hip replacement, knee replacement, heart surgeries, liver transplant, bone marrow transplant, kidney transplant, cancer treatment etc at 1/3rd of the cost compared to the US, the UK or Canada and 1/5th when compared to Thailand and Singapore – that is what we offer.” Another reason, according to Pala, is that most of the foreigners either do not have medical insurance.