Medical tourist facilitators are seldom referred to as medicinal travel facility providing agencies or medical tourism agencies. These are a group of companies, sometimes sister concerns of large medical institutions that, act as middle men or facilitators for patients engaging in tourism that is related to medical purposes. Helping people to get the best medical facilities outside their hometown without any hassle and excessive costs.
Medical tourist operators in India go a long way in attracting patients from abroad to the medical facilities in the country. They have played a very important role in the recent growth and the promotion of medical tourism in India. Not only do they serve the country but represent the immense convenience and prospects of hospitals outside a patient’s hometown where he can get a easier cure for his ailments. Therefore, they are the face of a major segment of the medical industry attracting a lot of clients from outside.
The growth of these companies, which usually name themselves by terms synonymous to travel and health, can be credited to the advent of globalization. It is in the recent three or maybe four years that the numbers of these companies have seen a rise. Their function is similar to a travel agency:
- Obtaining passports for the patients and their companions
- Booking flights
- Making arrangement for boarding, lodging and transportation.
They differ from tourist agencies in the aspect that they are mediators between the patient and the international medical facility. The facilitators repackage the medical services that the hospitals offer to make them more attractive and also be a patient’s guide throughout the treatment process. Thus, it is very important that one weighs the comparative advantages and disadvantages of a facilitator before hiring him.
India is one of the major players in this industry. Currently, it hosts about 1.27 million medical tourists from industrialized countries like UK, USA and Canada and from its neighboring countries such as Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and China. Its foreign exchange earnings from medical tourism is estimated to be around US $ 1.8 billion. But it faces intense regional competitions from Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. The projection indicates that the number of medical tourists in India will likely to reach 2.8 million and the market will be around US $ 3.96 billion by 2015. The current market size of the Indian Medical Tourism segment is Rs 7,500 crore and likely to touch Rs 12,000 Crore by 2015 with an annual growth rate of 25 per cent.