Experts suggest that the Indian medical tourism is expected to reach $6 billion by 2018, with the number of people arriving in the country for medical treatment set to double over the next four years. The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry urged the Center to take new initiatives to boost medical tourism in India including multiple-entry medical visa to enable easy followup treatment for foreigners.
The leading business chamber FICCI said, "India needs to have a comprehensive, uniform and simplified check list for foreign medical travelers along with all relevant information for medical visas which should be displayed at the Indian embassy website across the globe. India has some distinct and competitive advantages to boost medical tourism, but the fact remains that countries like Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia have moved far ahead than India."
Abhay Soi, chairperson of FICCI working group on medical value tourism, said, "Among several initiatives India should have a special checklist for the foreign patients traveling for high end treatment cases which involve multiple legalities, like kidney transplants and liver transplants, to avoid problems in getting clearance for treatment on arrival in India."
Soi, who is also the managing director of Radiant Life Care, said, "India also needed to relax the fiscal laws for genuine foreign patients, allowing them to transfer money to India in case of additional requirements. Transferring money to India for medical treatment is a complex procedure. Uzbekistan has strict laws and patients lose a lot of time in getting permission for funds transfer to India for their treatment. Patients from Iraq are unable to wire transfer funds due to regulations and have to carry cash. These procedural delays make it difficult for medical travelers to get timely treatment."
Soi emphasized the need for a multi-party nodal agency, which should regularly meet and discuss ways to promote and improve the Indian medical tourism prospects. He said, "Representatives from the government, public and private sectors need to participate. A nationally recognized health portal by the government will go a long way in bolstering the confidence of international patients. Along with this, the government must also examine the NABH (National Accreditation Board for Hospitals and Healthcare Providers) platform."