With us living in an ‘Access to internet at fingertips’ age, health care has become a global concern where it is not just localized to a particular region but has spread across borders and time zones. We have always craved and wished for the best in products that correspond to our lifestyle, so why not our health. With the massive growth in population leading to changes in our environment, it has fuelled the fire of ever-growing diseases – genetic or environmental which has forced us to improve our ways to tackle them. But, it comes with a cost, a much higher cost which can’t be afforded by half the population, sometimes in their own country. This has lead people to seek medical treatment and equal quality of care from other regions and countries with an affordable treatment plan especially in countries like India, Cuba etc.

Medical tourism, which is a relatively new concept, is the practice of seeking medical treatment abroad. It has already become a multibillion dollar industry involving both the government and private sector to come to the rescue of people seeking medical help in different countries. The internet has helped us decentralize everything including our healthcare thus bringing the power in our hands. Often people seeking treatment in other countries have the stigma about the authenticity of treatment and language barrier in a land unknown to them. India has become a land of health travellers seeking to heal themselves through Ayurveda. It is not just been limited to Ayurveda or yoga, it has grown vastly even in the specialties like – Cosmetics, Dentistry, Cardiovascular, orthopaedics, reproduction etc. There are many reasons to choose medical tourism in India, most important of which are –

  • Cost effectiveness – surgeries costing 10,000$, cost up to 4000$ in India.

  • Seeking treatment which is still not available in their countries e.g. Bangladesh, gulf countries.

  • Language barrier is reduced as India has most no. of individuals fluent in English

  • Updated with new technology, doctors equipped with the knowledge of recent procedures with more than 19 JCI accredited private hospitals.

  • Equal quality of care and best surgeons

  • Corporate and government collaborating and forming new policies in support of medical tourists visits.

The National Health Policy 2002 states to gain advantage from comparative costs benefiting domestic health facility in tertiary sectors and will encourage the supply of services to patients of foreign origin on payment. This will lead to reforms in healthcare drafted by Prime Minister advisory council on trade and industry headed by Mukesh Ambani and K. Birla. In a vast region with a particular set of needs, it creates a huge gap between the patient and healthcare which is filled with financial, language, safety barriers. Thus, Health care providers create a bridge over these multiple gaps between the patient and the physician and narrowing it further by providing Personal health care assistants.

The question arises regarding the need of a personal healthcare assistant. Personal health care assistants in a particular country e.g. India will directly book visits, appointments, scheduling surgeries, hotel stays, options for alternative therapies among other amenities according to one’s need. It is a personalised approach offering tailor made packages catering to all the needs providing an affordable health and vacation experience. After analysing patient’s health record, personal health care assistant will search for packages sufficing to the profile provided with best hospitals equipped with physicians/ surgeons, medical procedures/surgeries and pre- and post- procedure amnesties also keeping in mind the costs and safety.

There are almost millions of uninsured Americans who are willing to go abroad for affordable and quality health care. With the current boost in economy and recent advances in medical procedures, India has attracted a lot of tourists seeking medical care increasing to almost 400,000 patients in 2013. The personal health care assistant will be with the health care seeker throughout the entire stay. Best hospitals have often seen long waiting lists of patients seeking treatment which is minimised with medical health providers and health assistants. Follow-ups and regular visits with maintained records including all the treatments and procedures undergone by the patient is another important aspect to check the effectiveness and improvement. Medical travellers to India are attracted to Alternative medicine like yoga, meditation, Ayurveda etc. which can be beneficial to the individual is also being provided as an option by a personal health care assistant.

But is people often try to skip this whole step with the thought of saving a few more dollars and may be allured by numerous advertisements of hoaxed practitioners and hospitals without the proper accreditation or quality of care. Hence, medical tourism is not free of risks. Complications like counterfeit medications attained by visiting a sub-par facility may result in worsening of conditions or even transmission of blood borne diseases like HIV and Hepatitis B.

General issue identified is the fact that the qualities of medical practitioner in unknown in many circumstances or visiting without the help of health care assistants lead to outbreaks of diseases linked to medical procedures performed in other countries. Often such visits fail to maintain medical records of the treatment given leading to unknown complications with the current treatment jeopardizing the patient’s health. Another issue arises with getting treatment in India is contracting exotic parasites local to their land and spreading it. Required vaccine coverage pertaining to the region should be taken and getting a blood work up done before and after leaving the country.

Cost of medical treatment in countries with high living standards or without the proper facilities has provided India, a developing country with one of best doctors and recent advances in medical field, with a unique opportunity which has become a success recently. Employers in US are trying to reduce the expenses by providing health coverage concurrently. Insurance companies have started providing health packages with lower premiums to get them treated in other countries with which it has tie-ups.

Medical tourism, medical care providers and personal health care assistants have provided a bridge between the patients and the doctors worldwide with the superpower of internet proving as a boon. Medical tourism in India is in a nascent stage which requires more collaboration and policies to bring more people cost-effective health care.

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