Friday, September 21, 2007

Medical Tourism: The Latest Buzz


Very recently I came to know about a pretty old style travel gaining popularity these days. Not that travel for Medical Purposes have been unknown, but the brand-sensitivity of today’s world has endorsed it with “Medical Tourism”.

Fun, frolic, adventure, exploration, hills, lakes, forests, landscapes, valleys are the normal reflex ideas as the term “Tourism” touches your tympanum. But a Patient being classified as a Tourist is something that leaves an immediate pitiful smile on my face. Probably this is something of a black comedy that the world is ready to sensibly adopt for a classification in their economic books and affix further data to commerce.

My ethical sense strongly condemns.
A patient who might just be holding that imperceptibly weak thread of life has to choose from a list of ‘Medical Packages’ that he is mentally doubtful of (at least while he is a patient) and give tour operators the benefit of the situation he is in. Or possibly the family might choose on behalf of the patient, who are just more concerned of the cure rather than the luxuries attached. Does this justify the operators’ role of slowly rubbing his scalpel onto the patient’s wallet?
Of course it does! The breadbasket is very demanding indeed :)

More so, the Doctors find their real fiscal value in such an environment and could easily succumb to their wealth conscious grey cells. Thus, unlike the era-long-forgotten, the doctors have grown a ‘financial-viability-testing’ eye that measures the cases (now projects), above a comfort line. The financial feasibility has to be determined and negotiations are not completely ignored.

But is it really that dark or has it done more good than harm.
The economic sense,however, sings a different song altogether. It seems to be a win-win situation for both the patients and the operators. The patients are now aware of cheaper medical packages and can easily choose the one matching to their budget and liking. Just as an instance, a heart valve surgery that could cost around $250000 in US now can be performed in India at a mere $16000!! A patient buying once may then sit back and relax and so can his attendants as the purchase eases them of their run on every minute for every little requirement. The package is complete in that it offers you all that is required in a well determined clean packet with all required enclosures.
The unsatisfied patients have more options at hand and can easily read reviews upon a medical help and make decisions accordingly.

The brand building, thereby, essentially helps the patient and opens up their telescopic window which is a product of the promotions done for the brand. The attracting destination may start counting the foreign currency which is always sought for and give a positive thrust on the Balance of Payments.

Also, a new community of Medical Tour Operators is born and we have more specialized areas and increased employment opportunities.

Whether branding Medicine in such a way is fine or not, is a difficult to say. But it is already here and India bears a huge potential to en-cash. Err…...En-cash or Aid?

On second thoughts, travel for leisure will never lose popularity and as the purchasing power of people increase in the developing countries with growing economies, travelers are spending more on holiday packages. The most attractive destination for Indians and foreigners who come to India is still Goa. Hotels have been on the rise in Goa and no matter how many room nights are available, the supply is always far behind the demand. The carrying capacity of Goa has crossed its threshold and soon there will come a time when Goa wouldnt be an attractive destination anymore. Government needs to pay attention to maintain the aesthetics of this fabulous destination.

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