'Integration of IT, medical services can boost medical tourism in India'
New Delhi: Integration of Information Technology (IT) in high-end medical services provided by Indian medical institutions can boost medical tourism in the country, say experts.
According to the experts, major advantages of IT integration in high-end medical services include information about right diagnosis, right treatment, right selection and right cost about the hospitals and medical procedures to the patients who are travelling to India.
"When a patient is recommended for a surgical procedure and that too critical in nature, such as Organ Transplant and Oncology Surgery, the patient and the family members are surrounded by a series of questions... Here, technology can play a major role and can change the whole dynamics," said Jatinder Kumar, senior Neurosurgeon and Medical Director at Paras Hospitals.
Stating that the use of technology in medical tourism is still at a nascent stage in India, Kumar said with right and relevant dissemination of information, it can empower patients to take informed decisions.
"For instance, e-diagnoses and e-consultations may inform medical travellers of their options before they travel. Electronic health records and digitised medical devices help healthcare providers to easily make more informed decisions," said Kumar.
According to Government of India figures, in October 2015, India's medical tourism sector was estimated to be worth a whopping $3 billion. It is now projected to grow to $7-$8 billion by 2020.
"Integration of IT in medical arena is important because most patients look forward to accelerated quality support to manage their medical and surgical care away from home," said Swadeep Srivastava, founder of India Virtual Hospital (IVH).
"What they look forward to is help to take informed decision with expert consultations, working out the best medical travel plan, coordinating with the hospital team for hospitalisation and procedure and providing much-required counselling for patients and their family," Srivastava added.
IVH hospitals work in the field of minimising gaps in the service that leave patients coming from other countries and cities at a disadvantage leading to sub-optimal services and low patient satisfaction level.
According to the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII), the primary reason that attracted patients to explore medical value travel to India was cost-effectiveness, high-end treatment from accredited facilities at par with developed countries and with absolutely no waiting period for procedures.