India: a new portal for medical travel?

Massage in India, a popular medical travel destination

The Indian federal government has said it wants a new portal to promote India as a preferred medical travel destination. The National Health Authority (NHA) plans to build it, to connect foreign patients, including NRIs (Non-Resident Indians) and Overseas Citizens of India, with well-known Indian hospitals to boost inbound medical tourism.

At present, there is no such system dedicated to patients for ensuring quality and affordable treatment in India, and most connections with hospitals are by word of mouth.

The government hopes that it will promote transparency and accountability, and allow patients to easily find the names of hospitals, lists of medical services, charges, and other relevant information.  It also wants it to reduce the cases of patients being overcharged or using intermediaries, some of whom are known to mislead medical travellers.

It will be aimed at the large number of patients from the sub-continent and African countries seeking out Indian hospitals for treatment.

Medical travellers to India come from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Syria, Bhutan, and Africa among others, for affordable treatment such as cosmetic surgery, bariatric surgery, orthopaedic surgery, cardiac surgery, and hip and knee replacement.

The NHA has a growing network of more than 25,000 hospitals across the country, and boasts of a state-of-art IT platform, plus several years’ experience implementing what they claim is the world’s largest health insurance scheme, the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY).

As the first stage, the portal will host information about private hospitals. Patients will be able to give their feedback on the hospital after getting treatment and raise grievances in case of overcharging or unsatisfactory treatment.

The Indian government is working on the National Tourism Policy, which will be announced soon.   Digitisation and digital experiences are a key part of the policy.