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A medical tourism consultant has a lot on his plate - from holding a patient's hand to explaining the dosage.
Cheap yet quality healthcare is India's USP, and every year it attracts droves of patients from across the world. From weightloss surgery and complex neurological procedures to organ transplants and cosmetic dental treatments, India has made medical procedures accessible, drawing patients from as far as Afghanistan and Africa. So it isn't surprising that the demand for medical tourism consultant has boomed.
The job involves helping the patient choose the right hospital and the right doctor. From that point on, the consultant holds the patient's hand to work through a maze of documents, permissions, appointments, opinions, registrations, scans and reports.
He introduces the patient to the doctor and helps build trust. Once the patient is in India, the consultant has to take care of every little detail of the stay - transport, accommodation, food, ancillary services like nurses and physiotherapists, shopping, and visa clearances. "There's a lot of field work, you have to talk a lot, convince the patient, assuage his doubts and be there for him throughout, " says Pradeep Thukral, CEO of safemedtrip. com, a leading medical travel facilitation company.
According to December 2010 report by Delhi-based RNCOS, Indian medical travel industry should generate revenues of around $3 billion by 2013. Payoffs in this industry are fast and high.
"You start with Rs 20, 000 per month, and within a year your salary can go up to Rs 30, 000 to Rs 40, 000. A team leader can earn up to Rs 1 lakh per month, " says Thukral.
It's a 24x7 job. "If your patient feels uneasy at 2 am you have to rush to the hospital and be with him, " says Gaurav Bhatia, CEO of Shinon India, a medical tourism company that works with Iraqi patients.
Medical travel consultants, quite like hospitality industry workers, need to have good social skills. Patience, good interpersonal skills, knowledge of different languages and a working knowledge of medicine are a must.
A majority of foreign patients who come to India are from non-English speaking countries, mostly Arabic and African. Therefore, knowledge of these languages can prove very useful in this industry. Many medical travel companies hire translators for this purpose. "Since we are dealing with health, communication between the doctor and the patient has to be good. For instance, when a patient has to explain his symptoms or the doctor has to tell the patient what the dose of a drug is, we cannot afford to make a mistake, " says Bhatia.
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