Purpose The novel coronavirus has not only caused significant illness and loss of life, it has caused major disruption at local, national and global levels. While the healthcare industry is experiencing growth during the pandemic, disruption to travel has affected medical tourism. This article considers the short-term factors affecting medical tourism and how they could be mitigated by incorporating technological advances to secure long-term growth. Design/methodology/approach The study examines data provided by the Indian government as well as from non-government sources available in the public domain to review the impact of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) on medical tourism. The authors also examine data on technological advances in the healthcare industry that could help to reduce the impact of the pandemic. Findings This study’s findings show that while in-person services have been seriously impacted in the short term, technological adaptation of medical services to facilitate remote medical consultation has significantly increased. This has enlarged the business opportunities available to hospitals and general practitioners, and it could be leveraged to enhance medical tourism. Originality/value The article provides an analysis of the impact of the pandemic on medical tourism and how technology could be used to overcome short-term negative impacts and support longer-term development.