Healthcare Aggregators in India Paving Way for International Medical Treatment

Amit Bansal, CEO & Co-Founder, MediGenceIt is truly said that where there is a man, there is a need for medicine. In India, where one of the world’s oldest civilization thrived, the concept of healthcare has existed since ancient times. It is safe to say that historically, Indians have been pivotal in the evolution of medicine. The Father of modern surgery & medicine, Sushruta was an Indian and his work, The Susruta-saṃhita, is considered one of the most important surviving ancient treatises on medicine. India has been a cradle of healthcare with the first recorded hospital from this region dating back to 400 CE. Today, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) rate of five percent, India looks forward to establishing nearly 100,500 hospitals by 2035. If accomplished, this feat will be a monumental step towards the country’s aim of providing quality universal healthcare.

Globally, India has been the center of attraction for its strong & thriving healthcare system. The statistics recorded by Global Health Observatory (GHO) for World Health Organisation (WHO) have shown the country’s growing dedication towards the betterment of its healthcare sector. Along with that, the clinical expertise provided by the nation has been hugely appreciated for its ability to attract medical tourists. Medical tourism in India has grown multifold over the years owing to the quality & cost-effectiveness of the services provided in the country. Tourists from developing, developed, and underdeveloped nations are visiting the nation in their quest to get treated. Medical tourism has emerged as an industry of its own within the Indian healthcare sector. Along with that, it has also opened-up many channels of growth and expansion for different kinds of healthcare players.

The Union & State Governments are working progressively towards easing the challenges associated with medical tourism in the country. Facilitating this aim of making available healthcare services to those who seek it, many new players have popped-up in this sector. A major segment of which includes healthcare aggregators.
These aggregators are actually the facilitators that help patients from abroad seek quality medical treatment at a convenient cost. These healthcare aggregators have evolved themselves from simply assisting patients and providing diagnostic services within the country to paving way for medical tourists flying from abroad. They have now become a great asset, as well as a major player in the industry. These conglomerates are supporting medical tourism by offering state-of-the-art services to the patients from abroad.

Just like the industry itself, there is a great diversity in the way how these healthcare aggregators or facilitators work. The business model may vary, however, the process of sharing information about the procedure, cost, hospital, and doctors remain more or less the same. They play a pivotal role in helping the tourist identify or figure-out what treatment and hospital are the best for him. These aggregators act as touch points for patients to fetch all the relevant, credible, and authentic information from sources that actually provide the medical services, such as the hospitals & the doctors. The key role played by facilitators in India is one of the major drivers behind the great economic growth in the medical tourism sector.
Apart from information, these aggregators also offer a plethora of services to the patient traveling from abroad, including but not limited to appointment booking, monitoring and securing transportation, providing end-to-end visa support, and overcoming language as a barrier through a strong network of interpreters. All these services aim to make a patient’s journey smooth, hassle-free, and as comfortable as possible. These aggregators also take care of the paperwork, taking stress off the patient and his companion, thus making their experience even more pleasant. However, as great as these companies may sound, one has to be mindful so as not to get cheated. The presence of many fraudulent organizations & agents that sell healthcare facilities in the name of low cost have left a bitter taste in the mouths of many potential medical tourists. The patients need to understand that the companies who play around with the idea of low-cost of healthcare may or may not compromise with the quality of the same. To tackle this, a little preparedness & alertness can be of great use in making one’s experience a great one.

Patients need to be extremely cautious when they choose a specific healthcare aggregator as their partner. Before selecting any aggregator, they must do a comparative analysis with other options available. This will help in minimizing the risk of getting conned. Also, the acceptance of any treatment plan should be done after doing price & policy research because, the lowest cost sometimes does not mean the best quality of healthcare. Therefore, they must be cautious about choosing an option that satisfies their pocket, while also delivering the best level of medical care required. Keep in mind that the aggregator is supposed to propose multiple hospitals and associated doctors. If they fail to do that and recommend only one hospital, there is a possibility that they may be doing business for just one hospital. Consider this as a red flag and discontinue availing the services of such agencies. Lastly, keep in mind that if the handler boasts of 100 percent guaranteed success rates, they don’t necessarily extend that guarantee to life-threatening ailments. Seeking medical treatment abroad is a sensitive issue, which has been handled quite well by the experienced players in the healthcare tourism industry. However, the expansion in business opportunities has also led to the establishment of certain touts and agents of whom the patients and their attendants must be careful of.