Voila, it the 21st Century! The times we are living in today could very easily be considered the best time o be alive. Some say now is the true revolution! With everything becoming pocket sized to trotting round he globe digitally! It is the age of high-speed internet for crying out loud! And with these incredible manifestos, comes the age of the millennials and the quintessential start-ups.
Now firstly, what is a start up? As the name suggests, it is a concept, mostly brand new, that finds life in today’s social fabric! For this topic, I am going to be talking about one such start up concept that has no definitive timeline, but is definitely thriving in today’s scenario.
Imagine you just get back from your yearly break, but instead of cribbing about the extra pounds you put on from the binge eating or the hangover from your last night in the city, you arrive home feeling like a brand new person. It’s something a lot of people can relate to, and is a new form of tourism that is going to see a boom in the coming years.
The trend that is catching on is termed as ‘medical tourism’. While the name is straightforward, it is one f the most ingenious concepts of the modern world and is surely in line for some serious upgrades.
As a 90’s kid, I fall smack in the centre of the world changing the way it thinks and acts. From VCRs to artificial intelligence, I have seen and experienced it all. Growing up as a kid back then, I definitely looked forward to that one time of the year when we would pack our bags and go off for our little holiday to a destination decided for us by our parents. Most of you may relate to this. While the break then was more for us kids than for them, the part that leaves me bewildered is what if they had an agenda to themselves too. Would this have changed everything? Would this have meant more holidays a year? All jokes apart, this concept was born out of a need. While most of you may already know what Medical Tourism means, Medical Tourism, Health Tourism or Global Healthcare is when someone visits another country to have surgery, check-ups, medical procedures or alternative treatments at a more affordable
cost than back in their own country. While at the destination, the person may even spend extra time there recovering and exploring the unique and beautiful tourist attractions in that country. So no
stress involved and really, it is a win-win for everyone.
While most of us have travelled to another state or country for medical reasons, that particular ailment was largely the main agenda. Imagine an agenda that included having your medical appointment by day and chilling on the beach by sunset or retreating to your luxury condominium by nightfall. Taking off for medical reasons need not be as much of a downer as it seems. Especially for most of the times, when the ailment is not even crucial but time off for the procedure itself is inevitable. It is in this dilemma that the idea stemmed, and found roots in countries such as India, Brazil, Thailand, Malaysia, Mexico, Costa Rica and Singapore. I mean look at that list! It is more a list to your next summer getaway than for a medical procedure. However, voila, there you have it, the perfect blend between the least preferred and the most desirable time of the year
It is said that, in 2016, over 11 million travellers left the shores of the US in search of different countries around the world seeking affordable healthcare. As the cost of healthcare in first-world countries like the US & the UK continues to rise, citizens and residents are in a continuous search for destinations outside the country where they can receive quality healthcare at a much lower rate. Statistics have also said that this figure will grow by up to 25% every year for the next decade, as the competition for medical tourism between countries becomes fiercer.
While most of these statistics relate to the majority of the medical sphere, i.e., allopathy, I am going to be turning my attention to the lesser known sphere – naturopathy.
Contemporary medical practice may be seen to employ four general methods of healing: homeopathy, allopathy, osteopathy, and naturopathy. While allopathy is the most commonly known form of medicine, naturopathy is a system which uses natural remedies to help the body heal itself. By using the elements of nature like, air, water, mud & fire, naturopathic medicine treats the whole person — that means mind, body, and spirit. It also aims to heal the root causes of an illness — not just stop the symptoms.
The reason I am dwelling on this form of medicine so intently is because I see great potential in this sphere as far as medical tourism is concerned. With most of its users indulging in this form of medicine for rejuvenation and a better quality of life, it is only natural that this clientele could use a bit of time off and unwind in what these beautiful countries have to offer.
Ideally spanning over a week or two, a patient is asked to completely indulge in a program earmarked by the naturopathic doctor, wherein in the first few days, the body acclimatizes to the new changes in lifestyle and gently eases in to the various healing procedures. Of course, instead of the mojitos and margaritas, it’s now fresh juices and organic meals, but to many this may be appealing, considering you walk out completely detoxified and feeling like you have got a fresh dose of new life blown into you.
Now, is it all procedures you ask? Well, not necessarily. A naturopathy retreat or resort can be tailored such that the procedures are gently eased into your daily routine, a routine that largely includes relaxing by the pool or lounging on your room deck. All in all, it can be tailored to seem like it’s your perfect holiday. Including day excursions to the nearby town or a trek to the mountain next door. As long as you stick to the protocol, you are fine. It may seem like a drill at first, but remember, when you opt for this type of tourism and check into an establishment that will help you reach that destination, the result depends on your self-discipline and willingness to accept this form of medicine.
Now coming to where India stands in this entire scheme of things, India is one of the key players in the medical tourism industry as it strives to provide healthcare services with cutting-edge technology. With foreign healthcare companies investing in India and the quality of doctors being produced, India has everything the world has to offer in terms of contemporary medicine. Healthcare in India saves patients 65% to 90% of their money compared to the cost of similar services in the US or the UK, making India one of the most visited countries for healthcare.
Patients visit India not only for the quality and affordability of healthcare service, but also for the rich heritage, architecture and landscapes it has to offer. From the mountains to the sea, we have it all. In fact, the sheer diversity in local landscapes takes travellers by awe. Of course, while these features attract most of the crowd, there is a growing demand for the local forms of medicine that particular regions have mastered. From the Ayurvedic massages of Kerala to the forms of Mudras and Asanas. India, with its rich heritage in holistic and spiritual healing techniques, is soon becoming a hot bed for travellers wanting to partake in these procedures and take back the miraculous effects they have on their bodies. While most are content with the result, for many, it becomes a way of life.
While this concept has already found roots in many parts in India, it is only a matter a time before you sign up for your own two-week getaway. It is an idea that merges two concepts poles apart, giving you a much desired break and that much-needed rejuvenation, thereby preparing you for another round before you head straight back for another session of unwinding. In a way, the concept itself, with its intimately interconnected scenarios and explicable only by reference to the whole, works out quite ‘holistically’.