Industry News: Volume 9, Issue 17

Report: Nearly 30 million uninsured in first half of 2017

By Jessie Hellmann – About 9 percent of the U.S. population were uninsured in the first six months of 2017, according to new numbers released Friday.

From January to July of this year, 28.8 million people were uninsured, according to the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS.)

That’s a small change from the 28.6 million who lacked insurance last year.

In 2010, before ObamaCare became the law of the land, 48.6 million were uninsured. That was about 16 percent of the population, the study noted.

The percentage of those without insurance has decreased slightly from 2013 through the first six months of 2017.

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Harnessing the True Potential of India’s Medical Tourism Industry

By Urvashi Prasad – India is fast emerging as an attractive destination for medical value travellers from across the globe. The drivers of medical tourism in India include a substantially lower cost of treatment, short waiting times and delivery of high-quality services. A cardiovascular surgery in the country can cost as little as Rs. 4-5 lakh compared to Rs. 80 lakhs in the U.S. Similarly, the waiting time for a knee graft operation in India could be as short as five days compared to nearly 18 months in the U. K’s National Health Service.

The number of medical visitors to India has been increasing steadily, up from 1,84,298 in 2014 to 3,61,060 in 2016. Future projections also seem promising, with the industry expected to touch $9 billion by 2020 .

Some key challenges, however, persist. While the government has taken several progressive steps concerning medical visas, more can be done to ease the travel of medical tourists to India. Additionally, the market continues to be largely unregulated, with several informal agents and intermediaries connecting prospective patients to health facilities. Domestic or international accreditation has been acquired by a relatively small number of health facilities, primarily hospitals.

Most importantly perhaps, there is considerable lack of awareness in target markets about India’s capabilities, infrastructure and cost advantage in the health and wellness space. In many countries, there are misconceptions about India’s traditional systems of medicine such as Yoga and Ayurvedawhich are often perceived to be exclusive to Indian culture or even related to religion, instead of means for promoting healthy living. This is perhaps why India currently accounts for only 2% of the global wellness market.

The Way Forward

While a comprehensive medical tourism policy is in the works, some concrete and implementable measures in the short-term can go a long way in helping India realise its full potential in medical tourism.

First, it may be worthwhile to revisit some of the medical visa norms. For instance, the process of registering at the Foreigner Regional Registration Offices could be made easier for patients by setting up helpdesks at major airports and hospitals across the country. The procedure for visitors who come on a tourist visa to switch to a medical visa should also be streamlined. Further, medical visa on arrival could be piloted for patients from countries like Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Oman, UAE, UK, UK and Canada.

Second, the need for and importance of acquiring an accreditation should be widely publicised among all types of health and wellness providers, including dental clinics, Ayurveda and Yoga centres as well as medical tourism companies. As per the Joint Commission International (JCI) website, 36 Indian providers have been accredited by JCI compared to 61 in Thailand. A JCI accreditation is considered to be the gold standard in global health care.

Third, to enable better regulation of the market, a system should be put in place for registering agents and intermediaries. They should also be accredited according to the framework developed by the National Accreditation Board for Hospitals and Healthcare Providers and listed on all websites about medical tourism.

Fourth, for promoting India as a medical and wellness tourism destination, intensive awareness campaigns should be undertaken in high potential markets (e.g. South-East Asia for medical treatments, USA and UK for wellness tourism), in addition to traditionally lucrative markets (e.g. SAARC, Middle East and Africa).

The launch of the India Healthcare Tourism website by the government is an important step. There is an opportunity to make the website even more comprehensive by adding information on local travel and accommodation. The website also needs to be actively promoted through social media channels, in partnership with domestic and international medical tourism companies as well as leading hospital chains. By learning from the experiences of countries like Malaysia and Thailand, a welcome lounge could be set up at airports where large numbers of medical tourists land as well as a dedicated call centre for international patients.

The National Medical & Wellness Tourism Promotion Board can serve as the anchor point for the implementation of these measures. In the longer term, state-level boards should also be established to align with the board at the national level.

The time is ripe to inject greater vitality into India’s already strong medical tourism industry and overcome the obstacles that stand in the way of the country becoming a global leader in the space.

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Taiwan Health Industry Group Visits Malaysia to Promote Medical Tourism – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Media OutReach – 7 December 2017 – Taiwan External Trade and Development Council (TAITRA) has led a group of medical experts from nine Taiwanese hospitals and clinics in a visit to Malaysia to establish links with local medical institutions and introduce more patients to Taiwan. As part of the visit, medical professionals also shared their success stories as well as medical experiences at the Taiwan Health Industry Forum which was held at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Center.

The Taiwanese delegation includes representatives from Taiwan University Hospital, E-DA Hospital, Kaohsiung Municipal Siaogang Hospital, Lee Women’s Hospital, Aphrodite Medical Group, Royal 101 International Health, Biotegy Corporation and Healthcare Industry Development Association.

TAITRA’s President and Chief Executive Officer Walter Yeh said, “Taiwan has gained good recognition and credibility among the medical community for its world-class medical systems and technology. There are already 15 medical institutions in Taiwan that have achieved the gold standard in global health care certifications from JSI (Joint Commission International).”

According to Taiwan government statistics, there were over 300,000 tourists who visited Taiwan for health screening and medical services last year. More than three percent of these overseas patients, or 10000 patients, were from Malaysia.

The Taiwan Health Industry Group provides a full range of health services with the latest medical technology equipment for those who are specifically looking for medical treatment in Taiwan. The country’s medical strengths include plastic surgery, infertility treatment, hair transplant, weight loss treatments.

Another favorable reason for choosing Taiwan is its competitive pricing for medical services, which can be as low as one-fifth of North America’s rate. As such, Taiwan has been a draw for patients from Hong Kong, Macau, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia and even America for its premium medical attention at relatively lower prices.

Yeh added, “We are promoting Taiwan as a medical-tourism destination, and we believe that we can attract more patients from Malaysia to Taiwan. Ultimately, we hope to see Taiwan as their top choice for international medical service provider in Asia.“

With the success of the recent event, TAITRA intends to continue to promote Taiwan’s premium medical services to patients from Malaysia.

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