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Vaidam Co-founder Pankaj Chandna talks to DD India about the Impact of Technology on Medical Tourism

There is certainly no doubt that India is one of the most sought-after destinations for Medical Value Travel (MVT), securing the fifth position amongst 41 major medical tourism destinations in the world as per the Medical Tourism Index overall ranking for the year 2016. 

A report published by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) and Ernst & Young cited that the Indian market for medical tourism was anticipated to reach a whopping $9 billion mark by 2020, which effectively supports the above-made statement. Even when the pandemic may have dampened the target, with the vaccine rolling out at lightning speed, we may not be entirely off the goal.

To reiterate the fact, Pankaj Chandna, co-founder of Vaidam, along with Kalyan Sivasailam, co-founder of 5C Network, and Dhruv Suyamprakasm, founder of ICliniq chat with Gautam Roy, Deputy Consulting Editor, DD India about the substantial downfall caused by the Covid-19 pandemic on the medical tourism and how technology is helping overcome the adversities.

Introduction to Vaidam 

Giving a brief background about Vaidam, Pankaj talks about the inception of the company that happened five years ago with a simple idea to help people in need of immediate medical attention who do not have the facilities available in their country or city. Vaidam comes in with an advanced platform to provide all kinds of information to the patients including the best doctors & hospitals available, the cost of the treatments, the medical stay in the country post-operation, the rehabilitation programs, and more.

Over the course of five years, the company overall has received cases from nearly 94 countries and at the country level, India has received patients from 126 countries. Till 2019, there were approximately half a million patients who travelled to India for medical treatment, which is an impressive number considering 2020 was an absolute lull. The journey begins with gathering the necessary information and reports about the patient and arranging an assortment of options from multiple experts and authorities along with the most affordable treatment cost. The patient can then choose the doctor and/or hospital according to their preferences and the Vaidam team assists from A to Z of the process including the visa, travel planning, airport transfers, etc. Providing an enhanced service-based experience, a dedicated team caters to not only English-speaking people, but also nine other languages including French, Russian, Urdu, Bangladeshi, Arabic, Portuguese, Romanian, and Maldivian. 

Pushing Boundaries with Technology

On the technological front, Vaidam has worked laboriously to build an ingenious software and website, which can uniformly manage and regulate the data in a much faster and informative way to assist the patients in making the best possible decision. If the patient or their family member is an inquisitive soul, Vaidam also provides a multitude of content on nearly 100+ procedures and their sub-treatments, which are enhanced on a daily basis keeping in mind the latest standards and norms. Understanding the domain and integrating the technology is the only way possible for Vaidam to create such detailed analysis.

Acknowledging the accessibility of a mobile phone, the ease at which electronic medical records (EMR) are made available easily allows Vaidam to access the same on a real-time basis, which reduces errors and eradicates the requirement for a second-time diagnosis. Furthermore, the Vaidam website is remarkably hands-on and can be used in even the remotest of areas. This further strengthens the framework and gives the company a comparatively competitive edge.

Governments’ Contribution to Medical Tourism

As the outbreak of Covid-19 transpired and swiftly transformed into a pandemic, the medical tourism industry was one of the prime sectors to have witnessed the consequence of the economic slowdown. To which Pankaj adds, “On 12th March 2020, the government announced that all the visas have been suspended and it directly affected us as our future patients couldn’t travel to India, which was a setback.”

Fast forward to one year, the government has made efforts in the direction of developing medical tourism in the country post-Covid and has fuelled the operations by signing air-bubble agreements with nearly 14 countries. Pankaj adds, “The company turnover may only be 15-20% of what it used to be, however, we found some great opportunities during the pandemic and referred patients to other countries such as Turkey, Germany, Tunisia, Thailand, Egypt, and South Korea.”

As the world is slowly recovering, the tourism sector is also adopting the new normal and trying to get on the path of revival. To which Pankaj candidly sums, “The object of 2020 should be survival, and with unlimited opportunities in the near future, we have found more ways to further on and be 3x more by the end of 2021 as compared to what we were in 2020.”

New possibilities with Electronic Visa

The light at the end of a tunnel moment for medical tourism happened when the government started issuing electronic visas to foreigners seeking medical treatment in India. E-visas are being granted to 128 countries in the world, which makes the process a lot hassle-free for the patients. Pankaj continues, “We have set up a department in our company to assist people to apply for e-visa, and get everything done within 48 hours.”  

Vaidam also is the sixth company in the country to have received the National Accreditation Board for Hospitals & Healthcare Providers (NABH), which is a mirror to the streamlined aspects of the business. Moreover, international travel brings forth Forex into the country and makes for a creditable Indian market. Indian healthcare is comparatively cheaper than certain parts of the world, but that in no way compromises the standard of the treatments.

To conclude, medical tourism and technology, although in a somewhat unique situation in their current form due to the pandemic, have evolved robustly both in terms of the revenue it generates and the geography it reaches. With several countries being involved in promoting medical tourism and supplementing their tech funds, there is a higher chance for more and more people to have access to the best of treatments in all its globalized glory as now we must live in a world where healthcare should become a very prominent concern for us all. 

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Mrinalini Author Name

Mrinalini Singh has keen interest in human psychology and design owing to her Master's in Literature. She has written for various magazines, websites and also enjoys editing meticulously. When not writing, she is either found eating croissants or peering her glasses into a horror novel.

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