Medical tourism gives the opportunity to undergo an inaccessible in your home country examination and receive the necessary treatment. It is worthwhile to investigate basic principles of the foreign healthcare system work and terms of providing medical care for foreigners in advance. This will allow you to select a suitable clinic and doctor, as well as to undergo the medical program in Germany with maximum comfort and at an affordable price.
The structure of healthcare system in Germany
The German healthcare system work is based on the principles of insurance medicine. Patients can use state health insurance (Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung or GKV) or give preference to private insurance (Private Krankenversicherung or PKV). Patients without insurance pay medical services and administrative fees on their own, as a rule at a higher price than insurance companies do.
Healthcare facilities receive financing from two sources: 75-77% comes from the state funding and 23-25% from the private one. At the same time, the healthcare sector stays in the zone of special attention, and the government allocates more than 11% of GDP for its development. This is one of the factors that contribute to the high quality of medicine in Germany.
Depending on the indications, the examination and treatment are carried out in one of three types of hospitals:
- University hospitals – large multidisciplinary medical facilities, which are engaged in practical and scientific activities
- Academic (municipal) hospitals are also multidisciplinary facilities, but they do not participate in the training of medical students
- Private clinics (praxes) – as a rule, these are specialized clinics (for example, pediatric or orthopedic centers) where professors and doctors of medicine can carry out private appointments
Types of medical programs in German hospitals
German hospitals offer patients three basic types of medical programs.
Diagnostics or preventive examination (check-up). Diagnostics of diseases in Germany begins with a thorough medical history taking. A doctor asks about symptoms, previous operations and injuries, chronic pathologies, diseases in family members. At this stage of the examination in Germany, an experienced clinician can already suspect a pathology and determine the scope of further diagnostics. It includes the following procedures:
- Full range of laboratory tests (for example, general and biochemical analyses, hormonal tests, revealing antibodies and viral markers)
- Functional procedures (for example, stress echocardiography, excretory urography, EEG monitoring)
- Imaging tests (for example, ultrasound examination, angiography, CT, MRI, PET-CT)
The treatment program is developed according to the diagnostic results, on an outpatient and inpatient basis, under the constant monitoring of the physician. As a rule, such invasive interventions as stereotactic neurosurgery, joint replacement surgery, vascular stent implantation, etc. are carried out on an inpatient basis. Proton therapy and Gamma Knife radiosurgery, chemotherapy, supportive treatment in chronic diseases can be performed on an outpatient basis. The dynamic control is necessarily carried out during the treatment course.
The rehabilitation completes the therapeutic program and consolidates its results. German hospitals offer general therapeutic, neurological, orthopedic, cardiac, oncological and other types of rehabilitation.
Selection of the hospital and the doctor
German healthcare facilities demonstrate results of their work in the annual qualification report. The main criteria according to which the patient can choose between the best hospitals in Germany include the following:
- Specialization of the hospital in the treatment of a particular pathology; specialized centers operate at a number of large hospitals, for example, the Cancer Center or the Proton Therapy Center
- Work activity – number of therapeutic or diagnostic interventions, which have been performed
- Effectiveness – percentage of successful therapeutic interventions or correctly established diagnoses
- Safety – absence of early and late complications of the therapy, nosocomial infections
- Technical basis – availability of modern equipment, for example, equipment for radiosurgery (Gamma Knife, CyberKnife system), da Vinci surgical system
- Service of the doctor and nursing staff, level of comfort during hospital stay
- Opportunity to take part in a specialized clinical trial (for this purpose, the clinic must be registered as the clinical trials base)
Detailed information about doctors can be found in the Gelbe Seiten and Weisse Liste directories.
Costs of medical services in Germany
Medical tourism in Germany attracts foreign patients due to the state regulation of healthcare costs. Tariffs of G-DRG (German Diagnosis Related Groups) determine the basic costs of diagnostic and therapeutic interventions, which in certain cases may be increased due to the application of additional coefficients.
The total cost of the medical program is calculated in accordance with the following aspects:
- Age of the patient (child under 15 years old or adult person)
- Necessity of admitting to the hospital and type of room during an inpatient treatment (single, double, VIP), stay in the intensive care unit
- Type of the healthcare facility (state or private clinic)
- Status of the attending physician (resident, doctor of medicine, professor), treatment by the chief physician of the department
- Presence of concomitant diseases and need to involve specialists from related medical fields
Geographical location of the hospital should also be taken into account, as the additional local principles of price formation for healthcare services may be applied in different German federal states.
Organization of medical treatment for foreign patients
Foreign patients undergo a special procedure in order to receive an invitation for treatment at the desired hospital. If you do not have relevant experience in treatment abroad, or if you want to save time and energy during the trip organization, you can use services of Booking Health. Booking Health is the certified medical tourism operator (international ISO 9001:2015 certification), which offers examination, treatment and rehabilitation in leading German hospitals for patients from 75 countries.
Specialists of Booking Health will help you with:
- Selection of the best hospital based on the annual qualification profile
- Establishment of communication with your attending physician
- Preparation of diagnostic, therapeutic or rehabilitation program in advance, without repeating previously performed procedures
- Provision of favorable costs for the examination and treatment, without overpricing and additional coefficients for foreign patients (saving up to 50%)
- Booking the appointment with a doctor on the convenient for you date
- Monitoring of the medical program at all stages
- Buying and forwarding of medicines
- Communication with the hospital after treatment completion
- Control of invoices and return of unspent funds
- Organization of additional examinations, if necessary
- High-quality service: booking of hotels, airline tickets, transfer
You can leave a treatment request via the "Send request" and "Request callback" forms on the official website of the Booking Health company.
Choose treatment abroad and you will for sure get the best results!
Author: Dr. Nadezhda Ivanisova
Photo: (c) depositphotos