Medical tourism carries some risks that locally provided medical care does not. As with all domestic medical procedures, there are risks associated with medical tourism. Some of these risks include malpractice, operational risks, miscommunication with the doctor and flying back home to soon after surgery. Here are some questions that you might consider before travelling abroad for medical care or wellness services. Question (Q) – Answer (A)
Q: Is the overseas hospital accredited and by whom?
A: Always choose a medical facility that is accredited by the Joint Commission International or other internationally accredited agency such as, The International Society for Quality in Health Care (ISQua), and the Global Healthcare Accreditation (GHA). The Joint Commission is the certifying body of hospitals in the United States, determining if hospitals are providing adequate care or if there are deficiencies. The Joint Commission International is the international division of the Joint Commission that accredits and certifies healthcare organizations and programs across the globe. The JCI, ISQua, and the GHA has rigorous international standards on quality and patient safety. Hospitals that are certified with these commissions are a mark of quality and a symbol of excellence!
Q: Is the doctor certified and trained in the specialty/branch of medicine that suits your medical and surgical needs?
A: Always have knowledge of your doctor’s credentials, the area of specialty that they are trained in, where they received training, where they studied, and in what specialty they are board-certified.
Q: What if you have a medical complication while you’re there or when you return home?
A: No one can guarantee you will have a problem-free medical travel experience. It is recommended that medical travel insurance is purchased prior to your departure. Medical travel insurance is a type of insurance coverage that helps pay for any costs associated with incidents that may occur during or after your trip. It is recommended to arrange for follow up care with your primary doctor after you arrive back home. Make sure you speak with your primary doctor before you decide to travel abroad for your medical procedure. It is important that he or she is aware of your decision and is committed to monitoring your recovery once you return home.
Q: Will there be a language barrier between you and the medical staff?
A: Sometimes traveling abroad requires preparing in order to be able to communicate with the medical staff. A surprisingly high percentage of physicians that work abroad are trained in English speaking medical schools. In most cases these physicians speak multiple languages and may be board certified in their home country and a foreign country, such as the United States. A care plan should be developed so that you’re properly informed on every aspect in the language of your choice.
Q: Is the country that I am travelling to for my procedure safe, or are there any travel alerts or warnings?
A: Before you make a final decision about the destination for your medical procedure, make sure that you do some research about the country or region. Some of the factors that you should be aware of are infectious diseases, crime, political unrest, terrorism, and severe weather occurrences. Your Medical Tourism Facilitator will assist you in finding out this information prior to your departure so you will have the peace of mind you deserve during your trip.
Q: What if you have a financial issue after you arrive at your place of destination?
A: Always take the following precautionary measures prior to your departure to ensure that you can cover the total cost of your medical procedure and other additional expenses.
- Inform your financial institutions of the dates you will be travelling out of the country and that you will be using your credit/debit card for different transactions.
- Find out who is responsible for any additional costs and how much if it is not covered by the hospital within your procedure package.
- Make sure that you find out what is included and what is not included in the price estimate for your procedure package.
- Make sure that you have the available funds for the total cost of your trip prior to your departure.
- Always have a financial backup plan just in case you run out of funds, your debit/credit card stops working, or if you misplace your debit/credit card.
Q: Can I bring along a companion or friend?
A: Bringing a companion along with you on your medical trip is always recommended, especially if you are undergoing a major surgical procedure. Physical and moral support can be extremely beneficial during your recovery period. A companion’s main objective during your medical trip is to assist you during your recovery process and to make sure that all your needs are met.
Q: Why is medical travel so much cheaper in other countries?
A: One of the main reasons why medical travel cost less in other countries is because the labor is much cheaper. The cost of labor for doctors, nurses, pharmacist, aides, meals is tremendously cheaper when traveling abroad. Most foreign countries have lower medical and overhead costs, which makes it a lot less expensive to receive the same high quality of care as they do in the US or other well-developed countries.
Q: Can you take a vacation while you’re in your destination?
A: A great way to take advantage of your stay in a foreign country is to schedule a vacation for pleasure before or after your medical procedure. It makes a lot of sense to take a tour of a beautiful location, recover on the beaches or enjoy the amenities of a beautiful resort prior to departing from your destination.