An Indian healthcare firm will next year open its first African office in Nairobi to offer information to the growing number of East Africans seeking medical care in Asian hospitals.
FrontEnders will offer advice and logistics support that will see patients suffering from chronic diseases such as cancer access treatment at top Indian hospitals.
The firm is seeking to tap into the growing medical tourism that has seen India emerge as a favourite destination for patients from Kenya and other Afican countries seeking cost-effective healthcare.
It will earn a fee from Indian hospitals in which local patients will be checked in for treatment.
“We will set up our office in Nairobi in March next year to bring our services closer to people,” said Mr Govindaraj Srinivasan, the chief consultant, in an interview.
Some of the specific services to be offered by the firm include medical diagnosis, travel arrangements, cost estimation of anticipated treatment and booking of hotels or service apartments.
The diagnosis will be done through local partner hospitals or telemedicine — where medical information is transferred through the phone or the internet to surmount physical barriers between a doctor and patient.
India’s large pool of doctors and hospitals offering low-cost treatment of cancer, high blood pressure, and other chronic ailments have attracted thousands of patients from Kenya and elsewhere.
Mr Srinivasan said cancer treatment could cost about Sh50,000 in India compared to millions of shillings locally, making it a cost-effective option.
It is these advantages that Kenyan patients are increasingly seeking, with FrontEnders stepping in to connect them with the low-cost hospitals.
The consultancy firm has entered arrangements with 50 top medical facilities in India including highly acclaimed Apollo Hospitals, Medicity, Global Hospitals and Primex Scans and Labs.
Locally, the firm has ties with MP Shah, Guru Nanak and Aga Khan hospitals and patients are only referred to Indian facilities if the situation is beyond the capacity of local facilities.
India is estimated to have more than half a million doctors and 700,000 nurses, with its hospitals able to offer surgical procedures at one-tenth the cost of its peers in developed countries.
India’s reputation as a low-cost medical destination has been further helped by its large pharmaceutical industry that produces some of the cheapest drugs in the world.
FrontEnders, which has had a two-year stint in Kenya, is betting on the new office to gain a bigger market share of the country’s fast-growing medical tourism sub-sector.
At present, patients have to make applications on the firm’s website. Here