"A hospital cannot replace a hotel. We should not keep these patients in hospital a minute more than required, we must send them to a place where they can recuperate," says Apollo group chairman Dr Prathap Reddy.

In Bangalore, patients can check out of leading private hospitals, and convalesce in places like Soukya, a sprawling health farm on the outskirts of the city. With an in-house team of ayurvedic physicians and allopathic doctors on call, when needed, its medical director, homeopath Dr Isaac Mathai, claims to have the "lowest doctor-patient ratio in the world". It's the detox destination for Indian software and media tycoons, and its international guests range from spiritual gurus (Deepak Chopra) to Nobel laureates (Archbishop Desmond Tutu) and Eurotrash (Sarah Ferguson).

Every upmarket hospital will soon have aromatherapy, pranic healing, mudbaths, yoga et al.

Last year they also included Ellen Parry, who runs a garage in Wales. She moved there after back surgery at the city's MS Ramaiah hospital. Back home in Wales, Ellen is still ecstatic. "Amazing!", she said on the phone from Wales when asked to describe her India experience in one word.

She is exactly the kind of medical tourist Kant wants multiplied. "Forward integration with hospitals, backward integration with holistic Indian systems of medicine," is his mantra, and it's clear why: ayurveda and the rest are products that Thailand and Singapore don't bring to the healthcare supermarket. They are uniquely ours, and already contribute significantly to India's rapidly growing tourism sector. "Integration" is a favourite word in the healthcare industry, too. If at one end of the spectrum there's Soukya, which is both spa and medical centre, and other places like it studding the lush greenery of Kerala, at the other, it's mainstream hospitals discovering "wellness" with a vengeance.

Judging by the talk on the hospital circuit, it won't be long before every upmarket private hospital offers ayurvedic massages, aromatherapy, mudbaths, pranic healing, yoga, the works. And full-fledged departments of alternative medicine, with homeopaths, naturopaths, and unani medicine specialists on board to deliver that authentic dose of India.

"I heard about medical treatment in India from the TV show 60 Minutes. Big American hospitals are full of Indian doctors, that's how I knew they'd be good."

Scot Johnson; American 
Treatment: Cervical disc replacement 
"I heard about medical treatment in India from the TV show 60 Minutes. Big American hospitals are full of Indian doctors, that’s how I knew they’d be good."

Top private hospitals are also vying with each other in other ways to attract an international clientele. As in an accelerated race for the latest hardware—you can't miss the giant boards advertising the latest scanner—and for that prized certificate by the Joint Commission International (JCI) in the United States, a non-governmental body that accredits international hospitals meeting exacting American standards. The early birds who have it, such as Apollo in Delhi and Wockhardt in Mumbai, display it big, and other hospitals are in the queue. "The fact that we are JCI-accredited is a symbol of quality assurance for patients in the western world. To them, quality is foremost, even over cost," declares Bali of Wockhardt.

The hospital room is changing too, with globalisation clearly the spur, though all CEOs maintain that demanding Indian patients are driving the changes, too. John Connell, a primary school teacher from Southampton in the UK, who came to Wockhardt in Mumbai earlier this month for a new minimally invasive procedure to treat a hole in his heart, had the following in his hospital room: a computer, internet, a DVD player with regional compatibility that could play British DVDs, a mini-bar, a coffee-maker, a cellphone. The hospital also offered him and wife Amanda "virtual family visits"—that is, a video of them shot in the room and uploaded for their families back home.A hospital car was made available for them to move around in the neighbourhood. John's room still managed to look like a hospital room, but at new hospitals like the Max Devki Devi Heart and Vascular Institute in Delhi, it's all blonde wood, expensive blinds, and leather sofas, the work of a British designer hired by the company to get the look right. And prices? Ashmeena Ghei, international marketing head, who is already facilitating visits by a stream of international patients, quotes them in dollars: $150 for a room, $300 for a suite.

But the 2.3 billion dollar question is: Who will provide facilities specially needed for Medical Tourists? Who will provide information about advanced medical facilities/ doctors in India to patients from all over the world?

There is only one answer : Both the above needs of Medical Tourists as well as Medical facilities/ Hospitals / Doctors can be taken care of by one dedicated Medical Tourism Agency : !!!!

Courtsy : Outlook Magazine

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