PLANNING YOUR MEDICAL TRIP ABROAD

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When I first meet a Medical Tourist at the airport, my goal is to make them feel comfortable and assure them that I am familiar with what they are doing. I want them to know that I will be there for them throughout their entire trip.

When the Medical Tourist begins their research, much of the focus is on the medical component of the trip.

While the quality of care received and the physician selected are of utmost importance, the dynamics of being a medical tourist doesn’t stop there. A main component of the psyche involves feeling comfortable in the environment of the chosen destination.

When the plane first touches down, many questions may pass through one’s mind: “Will I be safe?”; “Will they understand me?”; “How will I get around the country?”; “Will they accept my money, and if not, how do I exchange currency?”; “Will my cell phone work?”; “Should I be concerned about eating the local food or drinking the water?”; “How will I feel when I step off of this airplane?”. The gamut of emotions, from excitement to anxiety, regarding the impending surgery can cloud one’s ability to be prepared for many aspects of the medical journey.

The role of the local concierge can be invaluable to address these issues and add a level of personalized service to help put the traveler at ease.

While many doctors and lodging options offer transportation, this may not be sufficient. Carlos Salas, owner of a concierge service in San Jose, Costa Rica, explains that there are many differences in services. “Many doctors offer no more than a taxi service. In this case, the traveler may have five or six different people that they are dealing with. Some may not be as fluent in English or are too busy to understand why they are visiting.


When I first meet a Medical Tourist at the airport, my goal is to make them feel comfortable and assure them that I am familiar with what they are doing. I want them to know that I will be there for them throughout their entire trip.


Salas adds that he has learned through his experience, that there can be big challenges faced by the Medical Tourist, but they are not insurmountable. “It’s as simple as seeing the relief in their eyes when they see me waiting with a sign with their name on it when they pass through customs. Also, they appreciate the help I provide them when checking in and getting settled at their hotel.”

He believes one of the most critical parts of his service involves getting the Medical Tourist in and out of the clinic or hospital. “The hospital can be a very overwhelming experience for many reasons. When they see that I am there through the check-in, helping translate if needed, and waiting for them when they have completed their surgery, it eliminates some of their nervousness.”

Whether it is recommending a restaurant or a tour, assisting with translation or transportation, a concierge who is familiar with the Medical Tourist’s specific needs can make a difference. “I recently assisted a bariatric patient who wanted to go on a canopy tour. The first thing I asked her was if her doctor had any restrictions? It’s important for me to understand their diet and physical restrictions before and after surgery.”

Many factors can determine the level of concierge services needed by the Medical Tourist. If you are traveling with a companion, if you are fluent in the primary language of the destination, or if you have already been to the country,  will influence your decision.

The best advice is to do your homework and research to determine what’s best for you in order to make your experience a positive one.

By Lourdes Gasparoni

Director, International Operations
Premier MedEscape LLC