July 22, 2008

Medical tourism needs 5k-10k professionals in 5 years

With medical tourism in India expected to grow 30% annually till 2012, the demand for talent is going up at a brisk pace even as it opens up a whole gamut of job opportunities in the sector. Little wonder then that a full-time course in medical tourism launched by the Indian Clinical Research Institute (ICRI) has generated a great deal of interest in the medical fraternity.

India’s medical tourism is expected to be a $2.2-billion industry by 2012, up from the current $1.2 billion. Encouraged by the growth momentum, the government has launched medical visas to be given on a priority basis.

Estimates suggest that there would be a demand for 5,000-10,000 professionals specifically catering to this industry segment in the next five years. These would include international marketing professionals, patients relation managers, backoffice employees.

However, analysts believe there’s an acute need for infrastructure to train people in these functions. And there are no institutions offering such niche courses. “There is a great demand for such modules as the manpower requirement goes up and the need for specialised roles arises,” says ICRI HEALTH director, health service, major general (Dr) M Srivastava.

The course from ICRI would offer training in hospital & health services, financial management, marketing, OR techniques, costing and budgeting. Pricing techniques, hospitality & patient relation & conflict resolution, healthcare laws & regulations, health insurance & regulations, business ethics & corporate governance are also part of the course. A major requirement, say experts, would also be for patient relation managers who can understand the needs of people from other geographies, their food habits, language and their comfort level.

Soft skills would be in great demand. Currently, individuals with a background in medicine deliver such services. As the need increases and the doctors become more engaged with the medical procedures, a different pool of people would be required to man those positions.

“Till now no institute offered such courses and the hospitals survived only on in-house resources and training,” says Apollo Healthcare and Lifestyle CEO Ratan Jalan.

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