Medical treatment can be a daunting prospect at the best of times.
It doesn't matter if you are considering traveling to the next city or across the world for medical treatment, finding trusted, quality providers is not easy.
When you consider the additional stress of travel, language, different standards and regulations - medical travel is much more complex than finding a clinic with a fashy advertisement and a discount price.
Our aim is to the take the guesswork and stress out of your decision to seek medical treatment - no matter where you decide to seek your treatment.
Why do people travel rather than being treated locally?
Reduced cost.....Reduced waiting times.....Broader treatment options.....Lower regulations (think IVF)
Many destinations present a large array of highly qualified medical facilities, medical practitioners, certified hotels to rest and recuperate in, and airlines that are suitable to manage your condition comfortably on your trip home.
There are huge opportunities and wonderful experiences to be had with Medi-Travel. However, before you fall for the glossy ads presented by many medical, hospitality or air travel provider options, you will need to do your homework.
should include you identifying:
- What surgery/treatment/procedure/s you will require
- A budget suitable to your financial needs
- A country that provides the required surgery/treatments
- A suitable insurance package
- A suitable, safe & certified facility (treating hospital or clinic)
- A suitable, safe & certified practitioner (treating doctor etc.)
- A suitable & safe Hotel (to rest-recuperate in)
- A suitable & safe airline (to travel home with)
- What condition will you be in throughout your stay & travel (i.e. mobility restricted or in fact disabled for a period of time)
What Treatments Can I Travel For?
Medi-Travel is most often for surgeries or similar treatments, with people travelling for a range of options such as
- Cosmetic surgery (i.e. breast augmentation, facelifts and liposuction)
- Dentistry (ie dental implants, dentures, crowns and whitening)
- Cardiology/cardiac surgery (i.e. bypass and valve replacement)
- Orthopaedic surgery (i.e. hip replacements, resurfacing, knee replacement and joint surgery)
- Bariatric surgery (i.e. gastric bypass and gastric banding)
- Fertility/reproductive system (i.e. IVF and gender reassignment)
- Organ, cell & tissue transplantation (i.e. organ transplantation and stem cell therapy)
- Ophthalmological procedures (i.e. laser eye surgery and lens implants)
- Diagnostics, check-ups and other treatments
However, almost all types of health care are available, including psychiatry, alternative medicine, convalescent healthcare and more.
Who Treats & Looks After Me?
The quality of your care, especially when far away from ‘home’ is a major issue. Researching a medical facility to treat you in and a doctor to conduct your surgery is more than just reviewing a colourful website. Don’t let the palm trees sway you! Some important questions you should seek answers for are:
- Hospitals, clinics & dental facilities: are they certified? Are all facilities hygienically maintained with appropriate procedures, facilities etc? Can you see feedback and ratings?
- Medical Practitioners: are they appropriately qualified and accredited? Can you see any previous feedback or ratings?
- Due diligence: is contact with them made available, who exactly is looking after you in both treatment and administration? Can you see images, visit the hospital or clinic, tour its facilities and meet the staff beforehand?
- Continuous Care: is the continuity of your care provided throughout the pre-, during and post-medical treatment phases? Does this include access after check out when you are resting/recuperating at any hotel?
- Rest & Recuperation: what is the type of accommodation you will stay in after check out (before you are allowed to fly home?) Does the facility have procedures designed to assist with you or deal with any outcome. Are they there to look after you or simply ‘accommodate’ you?
- Traveling Home: Airports and Airlines, there’s a huge difference in how they can both accommodate and look after you. Airports have a range of support and comfort options, as do airlines. The issue is researching these options and identifying what suits your specific need after your treatment and recuperation phase. Check options out at Ticadoc’s resources page.
Medi-Travelers require special travel insurance policies as regular travel insurance will usually always preclude medical tourism. Always check your insurance coverage before you travel with your health insurance provider to identify what coverage, if any, you will have in the destinations you’re visiting.
Some countries have reciprocal arrangements allowing emergency care (i.e. Australia has arrangements with 11 countries from the UK through to Malta, Sweden, Belgium, Italy and Slovenia).
Standard travel insurance will not cover planned procedures and hospital costs that insurers might normally cover against in case of accidents .
Some health insurance companies will not cover injuries or illness outside your home country, while others require that you pay for any treatment up front and then apply for reimbursement after you get home. If you’re not satisfied with the coverage available to you, look into purchasing a travel insurance policy that will cover health care abroad and emergency medical evacuation if that’s ever required.
One other important issue that may affect your price/premium is your immunization status. Many vaccinations on the market require several days (or weeks) to take effect. The (USA) CDC recommends that travelers visit their doctor four (4) to six (6) weeks before an international trip.
Medi-Travelers should not overlook the destination and medical treatment risks associated with travel.
The certification and accreditation (or lack of) of medical facilities and practitioners is critical to understand along with the surgery/treatment risks.
You may be receiving treatments (non invasive) or surgeries. These may be small scale, or large and quite complex.
Whatever the size of your procedures, DVT/VTE (deep venous thrombosis and venous thromboembolism) are among the potential risks for those having major surgery, especially for procedures such as joint replacement or some major cosmetic surgeries. This risk is especially important to manage when recuperating in an appropriate hotel (or other accommodation) that can adequately support you and when getting the necessary airline clearance to fly home.
Doctors will also need to make the patients aware of the general travel health risks to the medical tourism destinations in the region (including updating immunisations).
So after you have been released from care and checked out of the hospital, its time for you to check in to your hotel. Remember, getting there (based on your condition) may require some thought and pre-planning. You should also know that not all hotels (or accommodation) are equal. They may all look equally as glossy, but to accommodate your now vulnerable medical condition, some hotels have actually trained and become ‘Medi-Secure-Safe-Certified’ (MSS) to ensure they have special procedures in place for your medical condition and your safety & security when resting and recuperating there. The same MSS-Certified hotels have 'check in' processes to identify your condition, hospital and doctor, in room options for your care and entertainment, dietary recommendations and wellness options (spas etc.) Some hotels have even put in place specially trained ‘Medi-Staff to assist you in room as well as Medi-Concierges’ to handle any of your planning, continued care assistance, transit or communication issues.
The surgery or treatment you may have had will have a bearing on your ability to attain comfortable transit in any type of vehicle. What options are there (car, bus, tube, rail etc?) Who plans this option? How is it paid for? Is it safe and reliable for me? All are important questions that need answers.
Make sure that you recognize that your travel will include many phases. That is, if you are leaving your hotel and you have had a joint surgery or other internal surgery, how comfortable are you going to be when cramped in the back seat of a taxi? The answer is simple..Not very comfortable. So look at all your options, such as; Can your hotel assist? Some hotels have certified Medi-Concierges who are aware of Medi-Traveler needs, and these hotels actually have prepared options for you. Some even have special mini-vans just so you may stretch that leg out after knee surgery, or perhaps a larger limousine with much more rear room than a standard taxi.
The airports are an extremely important part of your journey, especially now that your mobility may have changed. What services and options does the airport have available to support you, now that your condition may be classed as ‘mobility-restricted’ or even ‘disabled’. Yes, after your procedure you may now be temporarily disabled. Think of recuperating conditions affecting; vision or hearing restriction, the affects of medication, general pain or discomfort or many more. Airports and airlines have a variety of 'mobility-restricted' assistance services from parking, check in, security processes, lounge options and gate to emplane/deplane assistance. Ticadoc has an enormous array of information resources now available to you.
Most people are unaware that there are massive differences in the service levels that each airline may provide. Both at check in, emplane/deplane (getting on/off), seating, luggage availability, dietary options, transfers and more. But importantly for the Medi-Traveler, there are rules. Yes, many rules that will have a major impact on your journey such as; Has the airline pre-authorized you to fly with them? Have you filled out your airlines medical clearance or had it assessed and signed by your treating doctor, and submitted it to the airline for clearance to fly beforehand? If not, please review the Ticadocs resources section.
Many travel agencies are beginning to be specifically geared toward medical tourism experiences. Keep in mind and please be aware of the fact that your Medi-Travel selections in many and most cases will be based on directed options which may pay the highest commissions to agents when bookings are completed, rather then the right options for you.
Medi-Travelers should ensure that all issues are considered by their travel agents including; clinic certifications, practitioner accreditations, patient safety and security. Quite often it has been found that the above mentioned may not be the primary considerations above price on hospitals, clinics, hotels and airlines.