All that is required for a successful medical treatment is a qualified physician in a well-equipped facility. Yet, having the treatment done overseas is different from having it done in your neighborhood hospital and may seem overwhelming at first. However, if you do your research and planning properly, medical tourism can save you some big bucks while giving you a life-saving and life-changing experience.
Following are some common sense tips to help you accomplish your medical travel objectives.
Which country is best known for the surgery you are seeking? How should you choose your provider – the cost, distance, specialization, and accreditation factors? What will be the post-surgery care you will need upon return? Are the savings worth the time, distance and other resources involved in medical tourism? What do others who have done this before have to say? What will be the right time for treatment and for travel? Will you be able to take time off from work? If you have insurance, will it cover the cost? These are some questions you should ask yourself and find answers to through diligent research.
In theory, medical tourism can be considered for any non-emergency treatment but practically, will it make sense to do so in your situation? Medical travel has many advantages but you will have to figure out if it’s right for your condition. So, do your homework properly.
Before you set off for your journey, you will need to get in order a variety of documents including medical records, travel documents, financial documents and some other personal documents.
Depending on the condition you are treating you may need clinical photos of the concerned body area in case of a cosmetic surgery; X-Rays, MRIs and MRI reports for a spinal surgery; panoramic X-rays of your mouth for dental implants; and so on. These records will need to be digitized and transferred to your physician abroad.
You will have to acquire passports and entry visas as needed for you and your companion. Bring along sufficient funds in the form of cash, traveler’s checks, credit card or debit card for payment at the hospital. Also, keep handy the information of all your important contacts like family and friends, embassy, hospital and hotel, your local doctor, international helpline of your bank and credit card company, and so on.
Proper recuperation is vital to the success of most procedures whether received close to home or away from home. So allow ample time for recovery in your medical travel itinerary. You may have to stay in the hospital until the end of physical therapy and be required to spend some time recovering in a nearby hotel or resort.
In some other cases, however, you may not need to stay at your destination for as long as planned. A case in point is of Melvin Jacobs whose US surgeon had prescribed aneurysm repair, heart catheterization and multiple cardiac bypasses for his heart condition. His cardiac surgeon in India was able to solve his problems without the bypasses, allowing him to go home earlier than scheduled. So be prepared to stay longer or shorter than expected.
The term "medical tourism" may be a misnomer as it's not exactly "tourism" in the real sense of the word. The extent of tourism activities may depend upon the treatment being sought. While sun, sand and surf may actually prove to be harmful after a cosmetic surgery, your doctor may allow you to do some sightseeing after an orthopedic or cardiac surgery.
In all cases you should let the effects of anesthesia or medications wear off and consult your physician before engaging in any tourism activities before or after your medical treatment.
Always keep your local physician informed about your decision of traveling abroad for treatment. You might need his help with furnishing medical records needed before the surgery and for removing any sutures, changing dressings, rehabilitation, follow-up checks, etc. after the surgery. Before returning home make sure that you have all the reports, X-Rays and letters from your overseas hospital so follow-up care is made easy.
There are many logistics involved in medical travel. Screening international hospitals and clinics, providing hospital and doctor details, scheduling appointment with your overseas hospital, setting up teleconferences with your surgeon, negotiating the best price for your treatment with the hospital, digitizing and transferring your health records, arranging passports and visas for you and your companion, booking tickets and hotel, arranging for airport escort and transportation at your destination, organizing local tours and sightseeing, and keeping your family back home informed about your treatment progress are just some of the many things that have to be planned and arranged for a successful medical trip. There are specialized firms called medical tourism facilitators that help you with all these small and big things involved in medical tourism so you can take it easy and concentrate only on your health. So seek help from a medical tourism company whenever you can.
Careful research and planning are the key elements of a happy, healthy, safe and successful medical trip. You should follow the above guidelines to prepare yourself as best as you can to enjoy the benefits of medical tourism.