Tourism has gone a long way since casual traveling for leisure and fun. Nowadays, it has many aspects and purposes which the industry is open to indulge for all. One among the popular ones, medical tourism has been on the rise in the past few decades.
The term medical tourism refers to a form of traveling for treatment to countries with lower-priced healthcare. Most common treatments include dentistry and fertility tourism, although plastic and cosmetic surgery are also in the top procedures. Additionally, medical tourism is important to people with rare conditions since it may be the only way to get treatment for their disease.
But just like any endeavor, medical tourism carries benefits and risks that every person must be aware of before deciding to embark on this journey. Therefore, here are some important ones you should take into consideration before deciding for this type of tourism.
Pay attention to the provider’s reputation
In order to minimize the risks, do a comprehensive research on the several medical providers as well as their countries rules and regulations on providing treatments to foreigners. Read patient reviews and specifically look for testimonials that will give you the best image of said provider. Ask for online consultations with physicians so you can interview them on the procedures and treatments.
It’s always best if someone you know already underwent certain procedures so they can recommend a medical provider. But nonetheless, check their credentials and accreditations, and find out as much as you can about the risks and benefits of the procedure you want. When it comes to health, you can never be too cautious or prepared.
Also, be prepared to travel to consultations with your physician in person before the procedure, if it’s necessary. Although modern communication technology is great, medical procedures require the presence of the patient and thorough examination by the healthcare professional.
Understand the language
Language can present a great obstacle to the patient-doctor relationship. This is more pronounced if you don’t understand the language at all and thus you won’t be able to comprehend the details on the treatment. This is a very important issue you have to address before scheduling consultation and procedure, for your own safety.
Also, the healthcare professionals need to understand you as well and know every detail of your medical history. The right course of action is to hire a translator to go with you, and also translate your medical records. It will cost you a little extra, but can very well be crucial for your health and well-being, too.
Plan time to rest after the procedure
As your doctor will tell you, you will need to include the time to rest after a procedure into your travel plans as well. While some treatments and procedures may not require it, like certain dentist interventions, surgeries need recovery time. This means you will stay at the said country for days after the procedure and need to include that into your expenses as well.
A lot depends on post-procedure care so make sure that you know all the facts before you choose to travel. The medicines used after the procedure may be outdated and banned in your country, so pay close attention to that as well. Remember that certain countries don’t use the same standards for control of medication and medical devices which presents a considerable health risk.
Better experts and practitioners
Every country has its own methods to educate and create new medical experts, so it comes as no surprise that certain procedures are better done in other countries. The prices vary from country to country, so people see that as determining factor when choosing where to travel. However, first and foremost should be the quality of care and the type of procedures they are the best for.
For example, Australia has leading experts on plastic surgery so it’s completely normal to undergo breast lift in Sydney. Israel, on the other hand, is the country popular for the bone marrow transplant, in-vitro fertilization, and orthopedic procedures. While in the USA you will have to pay considerably for treatments, in some countries you can have the same quality of care for the lower price.
Reduced treatment costs
Treatment costs are the first reason why people choose to travel for medical procedures outside their country. Unfortunately, the quality and availability of treatments are in the second place. This can have tremendous consequences for the patient if they choose the wrong clinic and practitioner.
But, sometimes the price isn’t a determining factor for quality of service and patients do get the best care there is in the world. For example, there was a period in the ‘90s when Americans counterfeited Canadian health insurance to get free medical treatments. Based on the World Health Organization ranking, Canada’s health care system is in the 30th place, unlike USA’s which is in 37th.
All in all
If you decide to travel to another country for medical procedure and treatments, start preparations as early as possible. Medical tourism is very popular today, but that doesn’t mean that all is safe and of the highest quality. Look for the reasonable price and quality ratio that will help you eliminate the less desirable destinations.
Always account for benefits and risks of having the procedure done at a certain institution and by a certain healthcare professional. A thorough research online and checking on the certified credentials of the individual or team of practitioners is advisable. However, see your future physician in person at least once before the procedure and don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you need.
Mia Johnson is a freelance writer with a ten-year long career in journalism. She has written extensively about health, fitness, and lifestyle. A native to Melbourne, she now lives in Sydney with her 3 dogs where she spends her days writing and taking care of her 900 square feet garden.