October 25, 2008

Indian hospitals see a silver lining in global meltdown

Influx of overseas patients increases as treatment costs in foreign countries shoot up
The global economic meltdown may have pushed the business activities in Ahmedabad to the backseat, but the city hospitals are riding high on the influx of overseas patients. Private hospitals that have been a hub of medical tourism are likely to be benefited in a big way from the inbound traffic of patients particularly from the UK and African countries, according to experts.

In the wake of the prevailing crisis, the cost of treatment in these countries has gone up, which has made the entire cost incurred on treatment and journey to India lower than elsewhere. While some specialty hospitals are already experiencing an elongating waiting list of patients from abroad, others are expecting an increase in the number of foreigners coming for treatment.

The Kidney Hospital, which happens to be a hub of kidney transplants where a number of foreign patients visit every year, is struggling to keep up with an ever-increasing influx of foreign patients, especially from Africa.
H L Trivedi, director, Kidney Hospital (within the Civil Hospital Campus), said: “We are restricting the number of foreign patients due to limitations in the transplant facilities. We have a long waiting list, which we are unable to attend to. We also have to attend to the local patients.”

Dr Pankaj Doshi, medical director of the Shalby Hospital, confirmed the sudden rise in the number of foreign patients and said the hospital already has a waiting list for two months. “The inflow of patients from foreign countries has definitely shot up. While we always have had patients for dental cosmetics and knee surgery, the inflow has seen a significant upturn of late,” he said.

City-based Sal Hospital is, however, yet to see a definitive upturn in the number of foreign patients. But Nitin Shah, medical director of the hospital, said they are expecting a sizeable increment in the number if the meltdown stretches for a longer period.

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