A lot of people embark on medical tourism for many reasons. It could be in a bid to avoid the long wait when they visit a healthcare center, or to get the best quality healthcare services, or to save cost or even just to experience a whole new treatment method they probably never had before.
A survey carried out in the UK showed that at least 8 million people consider traveling abroad for healthcare services – and this has led to a boom in the medical tourism industry. If you’re also considering travelling abroad for medical reasons, you should consult your physician or dentist to be sure you are making the right decision.
With an estimated 25% annual growth in the medical tourism industry, it's believed that a lot of countries will benefit from this sector if they can get their infrastructure right.
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Regardless, a lot of people still have reservations about getting healthcare services abroad. While some feel it's better to get treatment in an environment you are used to, others say it's expensive.
Whatever the case, the pros of medical tourism outweigh the cons. So if you’ve made up your mind to embark on one or you’re still thinking about it, here are things to do before going.
Review the facility you are going to use before making any reservations.
A lot of review sites let you find out all you need to know about medical facilities in other countries. This will help you determine if they are up to standard. Accrediting organisations, Temos, ISQua and JCI have sites where you can check the background of the hospitals and clinics in the destination you’re headed to know if they meet international standards.
Some even put up a list of other accreditations earned by the facility you wish to use during your trip. There are healthcare centers that are accredited by national and regional bodies as well. They should not be seen as being of low quality. It just means they are haven't gotten an international recognition yet.
What matters is basically making sure that a credible body certifies them. You can also look at their lineup of medical personnel to also see if they’re qualified. While carrying out research, ask for recommendations from people who have used the facility, and read patient reviews to help you make an informed decision.
Consider how long it will take you to recover.
It’s important you think about your anticipated recovery time. If you’re going for a transplant or other forms of surgery, you’ll need some time to recuperate. Some doctors would insist you don't fly back home immediately after the procedure. Will you be happy staying away from home for that long?
Try to talk to a health professional who can explain more about the duration of recovery for the procedure you’re going for. But if you plan on touring the country as part of the medical trip, then you won't have to worry.
Will you be going alone or with company?
Are you planning on traveling for medical treatment alone? Do you want to go with a travel nurse who’ll also look after you while you’re there? Whether you decide to make the trip alone or in a group, you’ll need some form of support.
There are medical centers that provide accommodation, feeding and many more – all in one package. This will also help you figure out the cost of the entire trip, so you can plan better. On the other hand, if you have a friend who also wants to undergo some cosmetic or dental procedure, you both can pick a date that’s convenient for the trip.
Consider any possible barrier and how to overcome it.
When traveling to a new destination, you’re likely to meet new people and experience a different way of life. If you are an English speaker, find out if you’ll need a translator or if the health personnel at the facility speak English. If you don’t speak English, you should do a little research and be sure you aren't paying a lot to get the services you need if the treatment center is located in an English speaking country.
Total cost of treatment and travel.
How much will the total cost be? Start with the medical procedure. Are you under a healthcare scheme that can cover the cost of your treatment and stay at the facility? Does the program have exceptions to what the facility cover? If they can take care of dental procedures and you need a plastic surgery, for example, can you afford to pay for it and also take care of traveling costs overseas?
These days, insurance companies have policy plans that last a few days to cover travelers in case there's an emergency during their trip. It could be an accident leading to personal injury or damage of third party property, loss of items like camera and other valuables, damage to rental car and so on. Can you afford to purchase travel insurance? Keep it in mind that it's different from medical insurance. Endeavor to do proper research on what policy you’re buying, what it covers and your benefits.
Consider all you options.
Consider all the options you have. Traveling to Europe for medical tourism might cost you more than traveling to the Middle East or Africa. If you’re part of any health insurance scheme in your home country, find out if they are in collaboration with any country to deliver affordable services and to cater for certain services. For example, there are some schemes that won't fund your treatment outside a particular continent. Try as much as possible to reduce expenses.
Finally, make sure the main reason for your trip is for medical reasons. Don’t consider the side attractions in the destination first before choosing the clinic to go to. Focus on quality healthcare services; after recovery you can explore the city and its surroundings.