The phrase “treatment in Germany” has long been a symbol of solving complex health problems. Thousands of people come here from European countries, CIS and the United States annually. German clinics willingly provide medical care to foreign patients, because treatment of foreigners is rarely covered by the health insurance, and therefore brings an additional income. There are much more comfortable conditions for international patients. Diagnostics and treatment are also performed on the highest level. Large medical institutions establish International Offices for work with such patients. Nevertheless, the healthcare system in Germany has its own peculiarities, which you should know in advance before planning a trip.
Which diseases are mainly treated in Germany?
Germany is traditionally considered as the leader in the therapy of neurosurgical diseases. It concerns brain and spinal cord disorders. For example, a special device, the O-shaped arm, is used for correction of spinal defects. This mechanism reliably protects the spinal cord from damage. The brain surgery is carried out under the neuronavigation control. It means that during the operation the condition of vital brain centers is carefully monitored and the risk of postoperative neurological complications is minimal.
A multi-disciplinary team of doctors observes cancer patients in Germany, so treatment programs are selected strictly individually. Without a doubt, traditional methods are also used here, but each of them is been constantly improving. So, tumors and metastases are removed with Gamma knife and Cyber knife techniques, the accuracy of which is 0.3 mm. Targeted radiation therapy causes minimal damage to the healthy tissues. Chemotherapy drugs, which consider the sensitivity of tumors, are being developed in the clinical trials. The survival rate of cancer patients after a course in German hospitals is the best proof of the effectiveness of this approach.
People with cardiovascular diseases visit Germany in search of minimally invasive methods and modern implantable devices to support the work of the heart. For example, the aortic valve is replaced by the TAVI technique, which is performed under the local anesthesia. In much the same way the MitraClip technology allows to improve the health condition in patients with mitral valve pathology. Germany is also famous for minimally traumatic implantation of pacemakers and mechanical heart support systems.
People with joint diseases come to Germany for endoprosthetics. When replacing а joint with the artificial prosthesis, the quality and service life of the prosthesis, as well as the rate of complete recovery after the surgery, are very important. German doctors use individually selected prostheses made of hypoallergenic materials that serve over 20 years. Revision surgeries are also performed here in case of previous unsuccessful interventions in the native country.
What my medical program will be like?
Main features of the treatment process in Germany are carefulness and attention to patient's condition details. The first step of treatment is a remote document processing. Before the physician approves patient's admitting to the clinic, he studies the results of already available investigations. It helps to make a preliminary diagnostic plan and offer the patient possible therapy options.
After the arrival and face-to-face consultation, the patient is always referred to a diagnostic department for a preliminary examination. The physician should have precise information about patient's health condition, that is why all investigations are performed one more time with the help of German equipment even if they were repeatedly done earlier. Therefore, you should not waste your time and money for visiting laboratory in your home country — the quality of examination is much better in Germany.
After receiving the results of analyses and examinations professor elaborates the individual treatment program. If necessary, the doctor refers the patient to colleagues of related specialties or arranges a multidisciplinary board. If patient's condition allows to provide the out-patient therapy, avoiding hospitalization, the doctor gives detailed recommendations and writes a prescription for medications. If the patient needs more serious intervention, then he is admitted to the clinic for an in-patient treatment. German wards look like good hotels rooms, not like medical department.
When the therapy is completed, the physician discusses with the patient plan of future follow-up examination and treatment. After the control examination patient personally visits the doctor again or gets a remote consultation without leaving his native country. If necessary, the patient can stay in the hospital for further rehabilitation program or visit a specialized resort for this purpose.
Quality of medical service is under the strict control
Despite the fact that there are several types of medical institutions in Germany, all of them meet the same quality control standards. That is why multidisciplinary university hospitals and specialized private clinics undergo obligatory certification.
Certification is conducted in accordance with several systems, such as:
- DIN EN ISO 9001 is a standard developed by the German Institute for Standardization and subsequently spread through other European countries
- KTQ (Cooperation for Transparency and Quality in Health Care) is a certificate that reflects the advisability and effectiveness of diagnostics and treatment, as well as modernization of equipment
- EFQM (European Foundation for Quality Management) is a quality model that evaluates the level of the institution in points, and annually gives the best clinics a quality award
- IQM (Initiative “Quality Medicine”) takes into account 350 quality indicators and covers 64 medical specialties
Information regarding the quality of medical care indicators is freely available in the Internet. Patients choose healthcare institutions and physicians according to this data. This is a part of an informed decision-making concept, when the patient participates in the process along with the doctor.
How is the price of medical program determined?
In Germany the costs of medical services are controlled at the state level. There is a unified system for calculation of the treatment price — G-DRG (German Diagnosis Related Groups). G-DRG takes into account the similarity of diagnoses (e.g., cardiological or neurological diseases) and the method of treatment. The same tariffs are used for German citizens and international patients. It sounds probably unusual, but the treatment in а German clinic might be cheaper than prolonged and ineffective therapy in your home country.
Nevertheless, it is worth to know in advance that any medical institution may make an extra charge to the basic tariff of G-DRG. It may happen, for example, if the surgery was complicated and had additional risks, or if the patient spent additional days in the intensive care unit. Such fee may increase total price for up to 10%, which can reach 2000-3000 EUR. When you receive an invoice, it is important to be sure that such overprice is appropriate.
The additional costs, such as flight, accommodation and interpreter services, you define by yourself. For example, you can choose between a comfortable or budget variant of flight, a single or double patient room, or maybe you will book affordable apartments in walking distance from the hospital. During the first trip the organizational moments may seem too complicated, so you should be patient and prepare in advance.
How to choose a clinic and come there for treatment?
Certainly, information about quality of hospital work and the ratings of individual physicians can easily be found. And this is great. On the one hand, the availability of information helps to find the best doctor of the required specialization, and on the other, it creates difficulties. It can be complicated to figure out which of the dozens of specialized clinics is the best one. Negotiating with each of them means losing months in correspondence with administrative personnel, who is often not aware of practical medicine.
In such a situation it is worth to use the services of doctors, who are specialized on the selection of clinics and treatment programs for international patients. The company Booking Health is the only certified medical tourism operator, which offers such an opportunity to people from all over the world. The company Booking Health organizes the trip, including medical and administrative aspects, such as:
- Choosing the most suitable clinic and physician according to international ratings and practical experience
- Booking an appointment at the desired date, including an immediate hospitalization, if necessary
- Sending an invitation for getting a medical visa
- Organization of the preliminary examination or discussion of possible treatment plan
- Assistance in booking tickets, transfer from the airport, accommodation, etc.
- Services of the interpreter or personal medical coordinator
- Providing health insurance against complications covering up to 200,000 EUR
- Preparation and translation of medical reports and recommendations
- Control of the final calculation, avoiding overprice
- Assistance in subsequent communication with the physician, including remote consultations with the help of unique medical document management system E-doc
The company Booking Health takes care of every patient and preserves the most valuable thing — your health. Leave an application on the official web-site of the company, and our patient case manager or medical advisor will contact you as soon as possible.
Choose treatment abroad and you will for sure get the best results!
Author: Dr. Nadezhda Ivanisova