Presently, in India, the healthcare sector has an estimated revenue of around $30 billion constituting 5% of GDP and offering employment to around 4 million people [Source: Confederation of Indian Industry (CII)]. As per a recent CII-McKinsey report, the growth of this sector can contribute to 6-7% of GDP and increase employment by at least 2.5 million by 2012.
Medical Value Travel or Medical Tourism is one of the key factors driving Indian Healthcare sector. It facilitates world class treatment and provides benefits at a fraction of the cost (almost 1/10th) with no waiting time for surgeries. This is in comparison to advanced nations like UK and US where cost is relatively high and waiting period is substantially longer. Thus, low costs and reduced waiting periods in the Indian healthcare setup are the facilitators in a large number of foreign arrivals to access healthcare services.
Medical Tourism involves the benefit of cost effective treatment, medical care in collaboration with the tourism industry. The concept is fast catching-up in India where people from any part of the world travel to the country for the purpose of medical treatment and get the dual benefit of travelling and sightseeing to various parts of India.
Providing healthcare services via medical tourism offers many advantages. It can make low cost surgeries and medical treatments such as complex Bone Marrow transplant, liver transplant, kidney transplant, specialized cardiac/heart surgery, surgeries for hip joint replacement, knee joint replacement, dental surgery, and cosmetic surgeries, to mention a few by expert doctors. India has various state-of-the-art medical institutes and hospitals of international standards. People all around the world are eager to see the diversity and unity of India. So, when they get the advantage of medical treatment along with a dual advantage of getting to travel India, they choose India over others. India with advanced medical services paired with exotic natural bounties has become a heaven for medical tourists. The Medical Tourism Industry in India is poised to be the next big success story after software.
According to the study conducted by the CII and McKinsey consultants, in 2005, 150,000 medical tourists visited India with the number rising by 30 percent a year. They also have predicted that the industry will grow to earn additional revenue of $2.3 billion by 2012. However, researchers feel that the volume generated by Medical Tourism can increase significantly, if patients’ pre-operative and post-operative follow ups are done remotely. This would be a win-win kind of a situation both for the patients and the Indian healthcare service providers as cost-cutting would be possible if tele-consultations are done. Such a provision can be achieved with the use of Telemedicine technology which allows access to quality healthcare and at the same time, significantly improve the productivity of medical personnel.
Inclusion of telemedicine technology in Medical Tourism would result in one such innovative application. This ‘Global Patient Centric’ application has been indigenously developed at C-DAC, Mohali.
The purpose of this project is to develop ICT enabled application for facilitating global patients by providing the highly profitable service of medical care combined with tourism in which India is currently considered as a market leader. The project aims to support and provide medical services i.e. pre & post operative care, reduce waiting time with the help of appointment scheduler, and manage the itinerary plans.
The scope of this project is to facilitate the patients (by ICT enabled application for providing health care services with tourism at low cost) needing surgical and other forms of specialized treatment. This will include:
- Medical services
- Pre Operative Care
- Under Treatment Care
- Post Operative Care
- Sharing of Patient record between multiple doctors.
- Itinerary Services (Airlines, Accommodation and Leisure Holiday)
- Awareness among doctors for using technology in improving health.
- Making the medical procedure at more ease to be used by Patients.
- Giving quality proof treatment to patients through the use of technology.
- To provide multi specialty healthcare to the common man at the most affordable cost.
- To promote the spread of medical education and training for the medical and paramedical staff.
- Intuitively designed user interface for interactive Tele-consultations and Tele-education.
- Less time consuming for critical surgery, transplant and treatment.
- Cost effective from Patient’s perspective.
- Special Medical care and facility for the patient.
- High quality lodging facilities.
- Pick up facility to and from the airport.
- Help-all-the-way in hotel check in & admission formalities in hospital.
- Less paper work at Doctor and patient’s end.
- Ease of availability of Patient’s EMR.
- Brings in valuable foreign exchange.
- Generates large scale secondary employment.
- Development of world class medical infrastructure.
- Option of combining wellness with tourism.
Product Functions/Key Features:
These are broadly classified into two categories:
- Medical Services
- Comprehensive Electronic Medical Record: Medical Tourism’s EMR includes Patient’s demographic and other data like clinical examination reports, physical examination reports along with patient's medical history, radiographs and other scanned images/ documents etc. It also enables sharing of complete Patient record between multiple Doctors of the same hospital.
- Tele Consultation for expert opinion: Medical Tourism provides tele-consultation facility. For 'real-time' consultation, Doctors and Patients can send new queries to one another and reply to the received queries; Moderator and Patient can also chat online.
- Appointment Scheduler: Moderator can fix appointment of Patients with Doctors depending upon Patient’s arrival in India and Doctor’s availability.
- Reporting Tools: Medical Tourism provides its users the facility of generating and viewing various reports like list of registered users, blocked/unblocked users, booked packages, summary sheet of booked packages etc.
- Medical Equipment Interface: Medical Tourism provides an interface with a wide range of diagnostic/ medical equipments. Output of each of the medical peripherals is directly acquired by Medical Tourism. Some of the medical diagnostic equipments interfaced with Medical Tourism include ECG machine, digital slit lamp, digital microscope, medical film scanner etc.
- Payment Gateway Integration: For payment of packages by Patient, payment gateway has been integrated.
- Interoperability: Medical Tourism is interoperable with all the eHealth applications at HIE Division. It also complies with international standards including:
- DICOM (Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine)
- TWAIN (Technology without an Interesting Name)
- MIS based application: Medical Tourism has strong administrative abilities to manage the users of the application. Regular alerts in terms of memory usage, invites, blocked users etc. help keep the users updated. It has been designed as a highly customizable and flexible application for the users. Various logs are maintained to record user activity.
- Itinerary Services (Airlines, Accommodation and Leisure Holiday)
Along with the health package, Patient may also send a request to the Moderator to arrange for his Travel and Accommodation and may also choose to opt for / add a short Holiday to his medical tour (before / after / during treatment).
Flow for Medical Tourism solution has been described as the below actors:
C-DAC Admin: C-DAC Admin is an administrator who will send invites for registering Moderators on Medical Tourism. He will handle all the requests like Memory Enhancement and More Doctor Invites requests sent by Moderators. C-DAC Admin will be able to see the statistics for the number of users (Moderators and Patients) registered.
Moderator: Moderator is a person who is responsible for sending invites to Doctors for registration on Medical Tourism. He will upload the available health packages and handle all Memory Enhancement Requests sent by the Doctors and all Quotation Requests sent by the Patients. He will allocate the patients to a particular doctor for treatment.
Doctor: Doctor is responsible for consulting patients, uploading reports, prescribing tests and medicines, uploading patient’s X-Ray, Ultrasound, CT-Scan, MRI, Nuclear Medicine, ECG and other scanned images / documents.
Patient: Patient is a global citizen desiring to travel from his parent country for medical treatment. He is able to upload his medical history and laboratory reports for consultation with the doctor. He can also select from various health packages uploaded by various moderators and input his itinerary details (flight details, leisure holiday details and accommodation details).
Advantages of eHealth Medical Tourism:
The ICT based eHealth Medical Tourism application is a unique, first-of-its-kind application wherein
- It blends the travel component of the foreign patients with his medical details.
- It facilitates the foreign patients to analyze both the health services and travel offers by the healthcare delivery institutions in India. The healthcare delivery institution so opted shall provide follow-up healthcare services, remotely.
- This application serves as a platform for the foreign patients to interact with the Indian doctors.
- Patients may seek pre-operative and post-operative consultation while enjoying the comforts of his home, thereby reducing travel costs. This can be done through the application providing online discussions and the exchange of clinical information between the patient and the doctor.
- It would facilitate the healthcare delivery institution to arrange for the appropriate services on the patients’ arrival in India.
Such an application would help:
- Reduce costs,
- Effectively double the utilization of scarce human medical personnel, and
- Contribute to the growth of India’s healthcare sector.