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Medical Tourism: Trends and Future

Posted Dec 27 2008 1:24pm

Wall Street Journal  in a recent published article feels that the only one sector totally unaffected by the recent economic downturn is the Medical Tourism Industry .In fact the WSJ in its artcile claims that increasing healthcare costs are forcing many US Companies to outsource healthcare both elective ad serious surgeries to india.

Earlier medical tourism specially to India was dominated by "uninsured patients" or patients that did not have insurance cover for surgeries like Knee Replacement,Hip Surgery. However in a development that could have far reaching for Indian Corporate Hospitals like Wockhardt Hospitals,insured patients too will be coming to India for medical treatements.This means that Indian Hospitals are gradually becoming a preffered healthcare destinations  from Western Economies.
Recently in In what can be described as the first important step in giving Insured patients a choice of travelling to India for medical treatment the Columbia,SC based Companion Global Healthcare Inc has recognized and added Wockhardt Hospitals in Bangalore and Mumbai to its overseas hospital network.All Bluecross Blueshield of South Carolina and Bluechoice Healthplan of South Carolina members will have access to Wockhardt Hospitals through this association with Companion Global Healthcare.
A recent forecast by Deloitte Consulting published in August 2008 projected that medical tourism originating in the US would increase over ten times than what is it currently,in the next decade. An estimated 750,000 Americans outsourced their health care in 2007, and the report estimated around 1.5 million US patients would be medical tourists who would be getting their surgery done abroad.
This outsourcing will be broadly led by low cost of healthcare in the developing countries, excellent infrastructure in terms of medical and surgical care,the long waiting time in their local markets coupled with Insurers that do not cover certain surgeries.
While this should be great news for Super Specialty Hospitals in India,Thailand,Singapore,this growth in medical tourism has the potential to cost US health care providers billions of dollars in lost revenue.
India has been among the top 5 important destinations for patients from abroad. India received approx 450,000 medical tourists in 2007 .
Several Indian Super Specialty Hospitals like Wockhardt Hospitals are an important healthcare destinations for International medical Tourists. Among the most important factors that have contributed to the growth of India, as an Important Medical Destination  has been JCI accredition and Cost of Medical Treatement,which is around 20% of what is costs in the US.
Increasingly many international hospitals today see obtaining JCI accreditation as a way to attract American patients.Some hospitals are looking towards dual international accreditation, perhaps having both JCI to cover potential US clientele and Trent for potential British and European clientele.
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