Medical tourism is quite a popular term in India’s health sector. People of small towns have always travelled to big cities in hope for better facilities. But medical tourism does not stop here. People from all over India and many parts of the world, travel to south Indian hospitals because they are sure of getting better treatment there. For the family member of every ailing patient, south India seems to be the Mecca. No matter what the problem is, if it has even a smaller lever of complication, family members would not rest until they get the final verdict from a doctor of Chennai, Bangalore, or Vellore.
People from different part of the country have their own set of problems in getting the patient treated in their own home town or nearest big city. If you sit in any leading hospital in Chennai, you will find more Bengali speaking people getting treated there rather than Tamil. When asked, they would complain either of wrong diagnosis or unapproachable doctors. While wrong diagnosis is something very unfortunate and doctors cannot be blamed all the time, but being unreachable to the patient is something in doctor’s control. There is no dearth of dedicated and efficient doctors in Kolkata, but they would rarely be available on phone or be ready to consult long distance. On the contrary, doctors in Vellore, Chennai or Hyderabad give their personal mobile numbers and insist that rather than making things worse by being a doctor yourself, contact them. This makes a huge difference in the psychology of the family members of the patient. Patients from northern India think treatment is much cheaper and the method is transparent in south Indian hospitals compared to the super specialty hospitals there.
Reasons behind Medical Tourism
First reason is obviously the correct diagnosis and best part is, sometimes it comes cheaper even when compared to the added cost of travelling and staying. But how is it possible? For past few decades, Tamil Nadu has been the health care capital of the country. Hospitals like Shankar Netralaya and Apollo Hospitals are visited by thousands of patients every month and the number is ever increasing. This has given rise to more such super specialty hospitals in Chennai and other cities in rest three states. Vellore is another preferred location. With so many options, the cost automatically comes down. Seeing this as a business opportunity, many guest houses and serviced apartments have been developed in the vicinity of hospitals where the family members can stay and cook their own food. This further cuts down their expenses. This is a win-win condition for everyone.
But foremost reason is the dedicated faculty members and best infrastructure. While nuclear medicine is still a very unpopular department in most of the metro cities, you will find it in almost all the hospitals in Vellore, Bangalore or Chennai. Thirty years back, scan and X-Rays had a similar past in the northern and eastern cities but even during those days, they were readily available in the later cities. If you look for ten best hospitals in India, at least five would be from south India.
Less than a decade ago, a new hospital opened in the suburbs of Chennai which employed doctors who had degrees from overseas universities but wanted to serve the country. While in other cities, such ambitious doctors give up their dreams due to the red-tapism, Chennai opened a brand new facility for them. This is where it gets different. Patients get peace of mind once they are treated by a doctor in Vellore, Chennai, Hyderabad or Bangalore. And it didn’t happen in one day. It took years of dedication and willpower to perform better and the result is before everyone.