India spends 1.2% of its GDP on health, but takes care of foreign patients — the country ranks second in medical tourism. In 2007, Indian hospitals treated 4.5 lakh patients from other countries against topper Thailand's 12 lakh.
A two-year study by healthcare researchers Deloitte revealed there's always been an inflow of patients from neighbouring countries and West Asia, but now there's a significant rise in patients from the US, UK and Europe.
Cheaper treatment is a huge attraction and, during recession, that's a big fact. But other factors, too, have contributed to the growth of medical tourism in India. "Indian clinical and paramedical talent is globally appreciated and with JCI accreditation of some hospitals, international standard is proven. Third-party intervention through health insurance has also given it a boost," said Vishal Bali, CEO, Wockhardt Group of Hospitals.