Author: Lynda J. Davis
Many patients and physicians are not only considering medical tourism, but referring cases. What do patients need to consider before traveling outside the country for medical services? In most cases, medical travel – at least for non-emergent procedures – still requires meticulous advance planning. Medical travelers have some key common identifiers:
• They are traveling to a foreign country for medical care or medical consultation;
• They will not be a resident in the country they are traveling to and appropriate documents for entry will be required;
• They possibly will be in a country where language may be different as well as culture and overall environment.
These medical tourism travelers not only need to confirm in advance their medical appointments, but also consider post-op in another country. The majority of medical travel is by commercial aircraft with a family member. There could be situations in which the international patient requires added assistance to reach a destination. A medical escort or, in some cases, an air ambulance could provide this assistance.
Medical travelers could easily be overwhelmed with planning, transferring medical records, instructions from the receiving facility, assessing post-procedure accommodations or itineraries during chemotherapy or radiation, managing their recoveries, communications and care upon returning to their home country. Unexpected complications could change travel needs related to commercial flights or an air ambulance.
Thorough planning is an important component of medical tourism. The good news is there are resources to assist patients and their families. Patients are not limited to commercial airline travel for medical care. A patient might need the assistance of a medical escort, who travels with patients whom are stable and do not require specialized air ambulance transportation. Medical escorts can assist with all aspects of patient care and ensure a safe and comfortable delivery to the receiving facility. Air ambulances are specifically equipped to transport an injured or ill individual. Both of these options are available to patients traveling for medical care.
Patients, who require medical services outside of their home country in the Caribbean, often look to the United States. Upon arrival, many U.S. hospitals feature international departments that focus only on servicing and assisting foreign patients and their families prior to arrival and until treatment is complete. International travel coordinators can serve as the liaison between patient, patients primary physician, and facility who will be seeing the patient. Many of the U.S. hospitals have international departments that medical travel coordinators work with daily to ensure all planning and communications prior to arrival is complete.
Planning is imperative when traveling abroad, especially for medical treatment. An international patient needs to be aware that they are not limited to commercial travel with family or the assistance of a friend and that they have additional resources to help. Medical travel coordinators deliver an excellent international patient experience by managing all critical touch-points, logistics and communications throughout the journey.
About the Author
Lynda J. Davis is vice president of International/Air Ambulance and Medical Transportation Programs for American Health Holding, Inc., which provides members with flexible medical management services that support