The medical tourism industry in India has been growing steadily in the last two decades. However, increasing the cost of medical care across the globe is expected to double up the numbers in the coming three years.

The cost of medical treatment is one of the major drivers behind the decision to travel to another country to seek a high quality of treatment. It is estimated that cost of medical treatment drives 80 percent of the medical tourism decisions.

Apart from the affordable cost of medical treatment in India, the availability of accredited hospitals that offer high quality of medical care is yet another reason that drives medical tourists to the country. In addition to India, other countries that have witnessed the emergence of medical tourism include Mexico, Thailand, Poland, Costa Rica, Taiwan, and Singapore.

The medical tourism industry in India was estimated to be worth $3 billion in 2015. As per industry experts, the sector is expected to grow almost three times in the next three years. That is, the medical tourism sector in India is estimated to reach $8 billion by the year 2020.

Nearly 34 percent of the total medical tourists in India come from the two neighboring countries–Bangladesh and Afghanistan–alone. An additional 30 percent of medical tourists come from Africa, Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region.

Over the period of last few years, the best hospitals in India and other healthcare institutions have started to make efforts to attract patients from the CIS and GCC nations. Currently, a large majority of those patients prefer to go to South East Asian countries. These countries, including Thailand, Singapore, and Taiwan, are popular as best medical tourism destinations for high-quality, yet cheap medical treatment.

Currently, the best hospitals in Delhi NCR, Mumbai, and Chennai cater to the needs of a large majority of medical tourists from around the world. Kerala, despite having state-of-the-art hospitals, attracts only 5 percent of the medical tourists each year.

Attempts are being made to increase the share by at least 12 percent in the next couple of years. With support from the government, several private agencies are actively creating marketing campaigns to tap the right category of medical tourists from within Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.