India Company's Medical-Tourism Push

Posted by: Bruce Einhorn on March 12, 2010

Indian hospital operator Fortis Healthcare’s purchase of a big stake in Singapore-based Parkway Holdings could lead to a major shakeup in the global health-care industry. In Asia, Singapore has always been at the top of the pecking order of the medical tourism industry, which caters to people traveling to another country in order to get less expensive hip replacements, nose jobs and other types of operations. The city-state has some of Asia’s best doctors and hospitals, and within Singapore, Parkway has long enjoyed a reputation of being the best of the best. India has ambitions to be a major player in the medical tourism business, too. Indian hospitals are generally much less expensive than those in Singapore or other medical-tourism destinations such as Thailand or the Philippines. For instance, a hip replacement that costs $43,000 in the U.S. could cost $12,000 in Singapore and just $9,000 in India. (For more, see this slide show from 2008 comparing the cost of different operations.)

Convincing Americans to jet off to third-world India is a bit of a harder sell, though. By buying a 23.9% stake in Parkway from U.S. private equity firm TPG for $687 million, Fortis has now positioned itself to become the regional leader in medical tourism, with a strong presence in India (where it has 46 hospitals) for the most price-sensitive patients and a new base in Singapore for higher-end customers aiming for more luxury. Investors are pretty upbeat about the deal: Fortis shares today hit a twelve-month high of 187.4 rupees and are up 35% so far this year. Parkway investors are happy, too. The Singapore company hit a 52-week high of 3.3 Singapore dollars today.

Reader Comments

Realistic

March 12, 2010 2:01 PM

This is a great idea. There is no way the retiring 'Boomers' can get care in the US if it is on the government dime. Too expensive.

gabe, san diego

March 12, 2010 6:50 PM

Who will insure the Indian companies? who will pay millions and millions of $ in malpractice lawsuits? oh, yeah, go to international court, spend lots of money traveling and get nowehere....good luck to all American suckers who want to get treatment in a country where people defecate in the streets......a county with open sewers.....

Interconnect

March 13, 2010 8:11 AM

Compliments to the management, operators, staff of Fortis Healthcare on the portfolio of Parkway Holdings. Fortis Healthcare will now be instrumental to patients in the sub-continent, SAARC region, with many cultural, socio-economic, regional, and best of all next door driving in just four five hours will reach the chain hospital at affordable costs, speaking regional/local language. Tele-health has now access for patient examination, diagnostics, imaging, lot of work as CT scan image post directly to the doctor's notebook PC, with zooming, HD resolution crystal clear the CT. Fortis should look for entering the sub-continent market, Afghanistan, for treating, hospitalising the patientes right in their own countries, home with tele-health.

Noob

March 13, 2010 8:43 AM

Did Parkway get most of its revenue from med-tourists?
Without that information, you cannot really say that Fortis is aiming at the med-tourists.

Steve

March 13, 2010 10:18 PM

Yes the medical care is good and cheap in India.Just a few concerns. Arrival at Bangalore airport after customs, granny is met by a mass of yelling taxi drivers and touts. Then a nice long walk to the car lot, over bumps and more touts. Then a thrilling 45 minute to 90 minute white knuckle drive to the hotel. Oh the hotel may likely NOT be handicapped accesable. Steps and more steps. Aftr surgery and multiple car rides that are death defying, you go home. But if there are complications post op, many doctors don't want to see you as they did not do the surgery. Most US insurance companies won't pay for India care as documentation is poor and billing is in rupees and not conforming with USA Insurance firms computers. Of course what happens if you are not met at the airport?

BroadenUrThinking!!

March 14, 2010 12:51 AM

@Bruce Einhorn --> I fail to understand your sarcastic articles on India every time you post your blog/article. I'm not sure if you'll agree with me (if you think with your rascist mind) that is India surging ahead in terms of economy, improved living standards, improving global reputation (i agree, still a long way to go and allot of work to be done within) ONLY to impress Americans? What makes you think or conclude that Indians are aiming to be good or to be the best in medical tourism in the region to woo Americans ONLY to make a name for our selves. You Americans should realise (i know its painful for atleast ppl like you) and acknowledge the FACT the the world order is changing and I won't say America is losing to other BUT others like China/India/Russia etc are gaining on America. All ths HYPE about the growing economies is not just a Myth (I know ppl like you will NOT agree). Time is not Far when you'll write positive and more balanced articles in future. Think b4 you write. You say it's difficult to woo Americans to 3rd World India READ THIS REPORT FROM CNN--> http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/03/27/india.medical.travel/index.html

jeff

March 14, 2010 10:30 AM

tsk tsk bruce, dun 3rd world here and there...you hurt ppl feelings. hehehe

Gabe Killer

March 14, 2010 11:20 AM

mind your language "GABE" do not comment on any nation when you are ignorant of the situation.Remember the golden words"International playng field is being levelled" and you will never able to know About it till the time it hits you and trust me you will feel the PAIN SHORTLY

Booze Einhorn

March 14, 2010 11:55 AM

Actually, it is a fantastic move by Fortis. Presence in the two phenomenal markets for health care - India and Asia Pacific will give them both the market access and cost advantage. The company is going to make a significant portion of its revenue from the richer people in these markets.

A pittance may come from poor Americans who can't afford anything in their home countries. Well for those poor Americans shoved by their own country....there is not much choice but to wait in queue at the Bongaluru airport (if such thing exists).

That's why in Europe we say, money may come and go, but culture remains. We also have public healthcare. But you brute Americans never had these things, so won't understand!

Siddharth

March 14, 2010 12:13 PM

Mr Bruce,
you are at it again.
You seem to lose patience with India just like a receding hairline!!

I read about this move by Fortis elsewhere. No other news source mentions medical tourism!
Why do you write such articles??

Buddha

March 14, 2010 5:45 PM

@Gabe -- It's a sin to make fun of poverty.

Maximus

March 14, 2010 7:04 PM

It you have to decide between life changing surgery and Bankruptcy I would be willing to take a look at all possible options. Wouldn't you?

edy

March 15, 2010 11:54 AM

I would never go to a third world country for any procedure...PERIOD. I don't care how cheap it is. I bet it's cheap for a reason. I'm sure the CEO of FORTIS wouldn't go to a third world country...why should I.

Dha Kur

March 15, 2010 8:35 PM

Here are few things that are positive about medical tourism.
1. Medical Tourism provides an excellent and proven solution for those in need in developed countries or from the countries in addition to those
travelling else where for lack of facilities.
2. In long run, developing countries will be building more hospitals which are world class, thus improving the health care for the local public.
3. Competition in medical sector in developed countries will benefit the consumers also.
On the other side, some of the medical tourism destinations offer little or no legal protection, in many countries there is no regulatory authority to protect medical tourists.
www.TourNCare.com
Online Medical Tourist Community

Jack T

March 21, 2010 4:37 AM

Hey! Edy,
I understand, if you don't want go to third-world-country for treatment.

Considering that you are being treated like a 3rd class citizen by insurance companies and doctors in US! Driving individuals and families to so called 3rd world citizen status.

No jobs, high insurance costs, high debt, falling standards of living, collapsing public schools, creaking public infrastructure, astonishing social and moral decline, rising white color crime to name a few to name few news worth items!

Really sad state of affairs. The decline started in year 2000, with very short period of growth, during election times!

So at this rate, India and China will overtake at least in GDP terms (purchasing power of parity) US in another 5 years. During that time US will be just catching up with losses of past years, probably ready to roll into next downturn, which will be around the corner!

Whereas Asian countries (at least India and China) have been growing steadily.
India is much better placed, of the both due to long history of slow but steady growth of private enterprise in India and democracy.

China will do well too to due to sheer will of the corrupt rulers and cheap copy-cat manufacturers.

So it's a million decision, when it comes to knee surgery to spend $1000 for airline ticket, $3000 for hospitalization fee vs. paying $1000/PM to insurance company, $3000 in deductible to insurance for hospitalization for the same, $500-1000 for medical copays.

When both options will deliver the same end result but later with much higher cost (life long) for preexisting conditions!

Pvt hospitals in India are world class and Indian specialists are world class too. Having got my treatment done in India, i can tell that.

BTW, India and China deliberately keep their currencies pegged lower to capture export market. If they let them free float, you and i will be like them! (dollar to rupee or yuan parity)

Don't be afraid

March 21, 2010 1:30 PM

Why should Americans be afraid of getting surgeries done in Asia? Over 50% of the surgeons in the USA right now are Asians anyway! I totally agree with the comments that 'Life' is going downhill in USA fast. 20 years from now it might be that USA is the 3rd world country whereas many countries in Asia will be 1st world! Yes, Americans will be 'leveled' by the playing field alright!

Rockon

March 24, 2010 6:20 AM

I understand, if you don't want go to third-world-country for treatment.

John

April 10, 2010 1:30 AM

What are all these comments about a 3rd world country - its not relevant - yes India is a dirty, poor country (its also a fantastic place for other reasons) but the emergency rooms in the US are not so great either.

What is relevant is how much service can a health provider give you for your dollar. Im was an expat in India and my daughter got injured in a serious accident - We took her to one of the best hospitals in Delhi. The service was outstanding, we got a room with our two personal nurses, clean, nice, flat screen TV's, parents adjoining suite....really it blew away a US hospital (oh the doctor was from Harvard).

Sure, I would be more comfortable being at home in New York with my doctor but I dont think most people in the US can afford Mt. Sinai and the service we got in India was pretty cheap. After our daughter was cleared for travel our New York doctor said it was best for her to finish her care in Delhi.

By the way - my insurance did pay the India bills after about 6 months.

Bora

April 12, 2010 1:58 PM

I had a good experience getting a Lap band procedure done in thailand. Initially I was a little apprehensive but once I landed at the hospital, the experience turned out really well. The doctors were very professional and the infrastructure was impressive. I took help from folks at http://www.thaimedihealth.com and they helped me arrange the treatment and stay in Bangkok. Its been 7 months now and I look great. I wish the doctors and the staff success. Definitely visit Pattaya and Phuket if you get a chance.

Hindutva

April 16, 2010 3:04 AM

Hello to all! There's one particular thing which I have noticed so far in most articles. We all get very racial & classy about any article written. Why is that so? Because you are born in that country, you have got that "tag" by inheritence or you have contributed to your country's economy so well that it hurts that someone's taking away your glory? (Pl Mind: Paying taxes is not considered as "CONTRIBUTION") And even if you think that US/EU/China/India or anyother country is superior? Let me tell you it is superior because of its counterparts, have the competition not been existing you would have died of monopoly! Just think an article from the perspective of a thought. An effort made to bring out the truth, individual perspective and communication with information; without which none will qualify as "educated". Every country is striving hard to get to the top! Look at the approach, don't push against the wall. Look what happened to US when it has pushed itself. Learn people learn. We do not have a chance all the time. Hoping for a valuable contribution from our dear readers. Thanks.

nimesh

August 8, 2010 11:45 PM

Anyone noticed how healthcare in the US is such a rip off? Youre lucky to be alive by the time you get to see a specialist and the actual medical problem is never addressed. The system seems to be just one giant piggy bank for stakeholders to make money.

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Bloomberg Businessweek’s team of Asia reporters brings you the latest insights on business, politics, technology and culture from some of the world’s biggest and fastest-growing economies.

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