G. Bakthavathsalam, chairman, healthcare sub-committee, Confederation of Indian Industry, southern region in a press release stated that the huge demand from U.S. corporates for cost-effective healthcare solutions could be met by low-cost healthcare destinations such as India.
However, to capitalise on the emerging medical services outsourcing market, Indian hospitals must create exclusive infrastructure for corporate medical tourism. They should comply with the international service and quality standards recognised by the international insurance industry. Chartered flight services and attractive tourism packages could be part of the infrastructure, Said Dr. Bakthavathsalam, who is chairman of the Coimbatore-based K.G. Hospital and Postgraduate Medical Institute.
In a press release, he said the outsourcing opportunities for cost-effective healthcare destinations had their roots in the growing pressure on U.S. corporates to reduce expenditure on healthcare. He cited the example of General Motors that recently sacked 20 per cent of its workforce primarily to reduce its annual healthcare budget of $5 billion.
While the economic environment, particularly the low interest rates and a five per cent customs duty on most lifesaving equipment, would help Indian hospitals create such capital-intensive healthcare facilities, the challenge lay in adopting the international healthcare service quality standards. Dr. Bakthavathsalam urged the Centre and State Governments to promote India as a corporate medical tourism destination, especially in the U.S., by organising healthcare events. The CII was conducting programmes to spread awareness of international standards among hospitals. It would organise 'Kerala Health Tourism 2006,' an international conference and exhibition of health tourism at Kochi from March 23 to 26. It would highlight the emerging trends, opportunities and challenges in Indian health tourism.