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New mantra: wooing overseas patients

Hospitals are turning into hotels and notching their hospitality-levels higher when an important official from abroad checks in, reports Vimal Chander Joshi.

india Updated: Nov 18, 2007 11:57 IST
Vimal Chander Joshi
Vimal Chander Joshi
Hindustan Times

The gap between hospitals and the hospitality industry is narrowing by the day thanks to the rise in the number of overseas patients at high-end hospitals in Delhi-NCR.

Hospitals are turning into hotels and notching their hospitality-levels higher when an important official from a foreign government checks in. “When an Omani minister came for treatment, we sent our cooks to the Omanian embassy for three days to be trained in authentic Omani cuisine,” says Anas A. Wajid, marketing head, Artemis hospital.

Alfred Tandau, former ambassador from Tanzania, was recently discharged from Apollo. He was attended by a posse of doctors and attendant staff, who were proud to greet him in his native tongue: Asante (thank you)!”

Foreign patients, who expect the treatment to be over in two weeks or more, prefer to stay on in India for a while to stand witness to its historical and scenic beauty and if one chooses the right hospital he/she could be in for a surprise to find his/her doctor or nurse doubling up as a tourist guide.

The hospital also turns out to be the ideal host as they have tie-ups with travel agents, who organise tours, arrange for accommodation and guide the patients to popular tourist spots.

Once Dee Misenhimer, an American citizen was through with her treatment at Artemis Hospital, Gurgaon, she visited Agra with her husband where she stayed in a guesthouse referred by the hospital.

Hospitals also have recreational facilities for friends and relatives of the patient who accompanies him/her as an attendant. The hospital make all necessary arrangements for their special “guests” to have access to a golf course or other facilities, like a cab ride to a mall or for sightseeing.

Dee’s husband, for instance, played golf at the DLF golf course while she lay in bed recuperating.

However, for the medical practitioners, the spur in overseas patients has reduced their god-like-image to that of a service industry professional. His work and his interaction with patients have more to do with meeting the demands of finicky customers and is no more referred to as Doctorsahaab but is usually addressed by the last name.

First Published: Nov 18, 2007 01:37 IST