India is emerging as a destination for quality healthcare services at affordable prices. It offers an attractive value proposition with multispecialty private healthcare services being provided to medical tourists at a fraction of the cost in comparison with other developed countries.
CII and KPMG in a recent report, The Indian Services Sector: Poised for Global Ascendancy, have identified four key modes that are essential for enabling and nurturing India's export of healthcare services.
India is in a leading position to offer telemedicine, tele-surgery, tele-diagnostic services, and medical process outsourcing services. The Eleventh Five Year Plan allocated Rs. 320 crore for telemedicine, which though in its nascent stage, is showing robust growth at 20 percent and is expected to reach Rs. 120 crore by 2017. The national fiber optic network with an investment of Rs. 23,650 crore, connecting 250,000 gram panchayats, could give a thrust to telemedicine usage in remote areas for consultation and diagnosis in a cost-effective manner.
Medical tourism is fast emerging as a distinct proposition. This market is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 30 percent to reach Rs. 67,000 crore in 2019, from Rs. 23,300 crore in 2015.
India's healthcare players have developed capabilities to establish and operate hospitals and clinics abroad. The establishment of satellite healthcare facilities by major hospital chains, especially in high-potential medical-value-travel countries, could help India gain a leading position in the medical-value-travel sector.
Services of Indian doctors and nurses are widely recognized abroad. However, India is facing a shortage of doctors, and export of services under this mode needs to be promoted judiciously.
Competition from Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines is expected owing to their substantial government support, infrastructure availability, and technology advancements.
A clear long-term vision for each of the key services, a well-defined roadmap, a conducive regulatory environment, and infrastructure could enhance India's global competitiveness. With a reviving economy and a policy-based push, healthcare services are poised for global ascendancy.