According to Ministry of Tourism figures, India's medical tourism industry could grow by 200% by 2020, hitting $9 billion. In 2015, India ranked as the third most popular destination for medical tourism, when the industry was worth $3 billion. The number of foreign tourists coming into the country on medical visas sat at nearly 234,000 that year. By 2017, the number of arrivals more than doubled to 495,056, government figures show.
Driving this growth is the low cost of surgery in India, nearly one-tenth of the cost in developed countries and there are 21 Joint Commission International (JCI)-accredited hospitals in India with numbers expected to grow in the future.
The boom in medical tourism in the Indian healthcare sector is also encouraging hospitals and hoteliers to strike alliances with each other, says Export.gov. The presence of world-class hospitals and skilled medical professionals has strengthened India’s position as a preferred destination for medical tourism, and the healthcare industry is now proactively creating standards for the medical tourism industry with the help of credit rating agencies, insurance companies, and others involved in the self-regulation of the sector.
The Indian medical device market is worth an estimated $9 billion and is expected to exceed $14 billion by the end of 2025, according to figures from Export.gov. India imports nearly 75% of its medical devices and barriers to entry are low compared to other industries. The country remains highly dependent on imports for many types of medical devices, particularly higher-end products that include cancer diagnostics, medical imaging, ultrasonic scans, and PCR technologies.
In view of the relatively low customs duty rates (9.2%-15%), combined with an increasing number of healthcare centres specialising in advanced surgery, India offers opportunities for the direct supply of high-technology, specialised medical equipment, products and systems.
To ensure quality healthcare, in October 2005, the Government of India increased the list of medical devices covered under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act of 1940, bringing several categories of implantable devices under regulatory control. This list was further revised in October 2018, bringing several additional categories of implantable devices under regulatory control. The new rules have eliminated the need for constant re-approval of manufacturing and import licenses, and these licenses have now been made valid for perpetuity unless the license is suspended, terminated or surrendered.