A medical tourism company - with end-to-end solutions

December 28th, 2010 - 2:36 pm ICT by IANS  

By Ritika Jha
Chandigarh, Dec 28 (IANS) With Punjab and its capital Chandigarh attracting an increasing number of overseas patients, most of them NRIs, a group of doctors has floated a medical tourism company to provide end-to-end solutions — including pick-ups from the airport and doctors’ appointments.Touted to be the first of its kind medical tourism company in northern India, Doctor Z India Pvt. Ltd. has been launched to cater to the growing rush of patients coming to northern India from the US, Britain, European countries, South Africa and east African countries.

A majority of the patients comprising foreigners and NRIs come for the treatment of ailments like heart diseases, knee replacements and even cosmetic surgery.

According to Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) estimates, medical tourism in India is worth over $310 million and the market is predicted to grow to $2 billion by 2012.

And Doctor Z India is hoping to capture at least some of this market.

“Medical tourism is one of the fastest growing businesses in the world. Till now, it has been confined to a few selected hospitals in India. Doctor Z has moved a step ahead with the aim of establishing international patient care centres in our hospitals very soon,” said Zora Singh, president of the Chandigarh chapter of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) and managing director of the Desh Bhagat group of institutes, which has floated the medical tourism company.

The company, through its end-to-end solutions, will take care of arrival and departure of the guests, fixing appointments with doctors and hospitals, arranging hotels, getting hospital rooms as well as looking after post-operative needs.

‘Medical tourism’ is at present disorganised with individuals fixing their own visits and appointments at various hospitals in private hospitals in Chandigarh, Mohali, Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Amritsar.

With leading private Indian hospitals acquiring advanced medical technologies and being at par with hospitals in developed countries, overseas patients prefer treatment here due to the reduced costs and the expertise of doctors.

A heart surgery in the US, on an average, costs over $30,000 (Rs.13.50 lakh) while patients can avail the same in India for almost $8,000 (Rs.3.60 lakh). The waiting time for a knee transplant in the US is about two years and for heart surgery about a year.

“A majority of the patients who come to India for treatment are NRIs living in the UK and the US. Chandigarh is set to become a hub for medical tourism in the region as nearly 1.25 lakh (125,000) NRIs visit the city every year,” said cosmetic surgeon Tejinder Bhatti.

“Most of the foreign patients undergoing cosmetic surgeries in India are generally middle aged - with a desire for a younger, better look,” said Bhatti.

Doctor Z India has established tie-ups with the region’s top 10 healthcare providers, including hospital chains like Fortis and Ivy in Mohali (10 km from here), Alchemist in Panchkula (15 km from here), and Inscol in Chandigarh.

The company has also launched a green channel, an online registration system, for interacting with the patients around the world, its executive officer H.C. Gera told IANS.

“We provide assistance to the foreign patients throughout their journey to India, even receiving them at the airport here,” Gera said.

But the lower cost does not mean any compromise on quality.

“We need to ensure that even if the cost of the treatments here is less, no compromises are made on the quality of services,” said Gurbir Singh, medical director and regional medical advisor at Mohali’s Fortis Hospital, one of the most frequented medical facilities by foreign patients.

“Moreover, the sensitivities of foreign patients must be respected when you are inviting them for treatment here. Coming from different countries and continents, they have different expectations,” Gurbir Singh pointed out.

(Ritika Jha can be reached at ritika.jha3@gmail.com)

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