What is Medical Tourism?
Medical tourism (or health tourism) is a comparatively new direction in the world`s practice. One cannot consider medical tourism to be a branch of tourism in general. This is a separate service sphere for people with extensive health issues. The inability to receive proper healthcare services pushed the development of health tourism and gave patients the possibility to look for diagnostic and treatment alternatives abroad.
Willingness to become a patient of foreign healthcare institution may be connected with several reasons such as: poor state of medicine in the patient`s native country, lack of trust of the skills of local doctors, unsuccessful previous diagnostic tests and treatment, the desire to receive TOP-quality medical services, and availability of innovative treatment methods abroad.
Thus, according to official data, the number of people going abroad for medical issues increases annually by 20 %. It has to be mentioned, that this statistic data includes world medical tourism in general, regardless of the level of medical service in the native country of a patient.
Let us explain here about how medical tourism works and what should a potential client of a foreign hospital take into consideration.
Kinds of Medical Tourism
Medical tourism market can roughly be divided into several areas:
- Treatment abroad - includes only offers related directly to the health problems
- Aesthetic procedures - plastic surgery, cosmetology and aesthetic dentistry
- Diagnostic programs - are popular among those patients whom the doctors in their homeland cannot establish a certain diagnosis. Also, those people who doubt their diagnosis go for diagnostics abroad
- Spa treatment - is also a branch of health tourism, but not for direct treatment. This kind of medical tourism is chosen by people with minor chronic diseases, as well as with the purpose of prevention and relaxation
Popular Treatment Destinations abroad
A question is, where exactly do medical tourists go and what complaints do they have to refer to the foreign specialists?
According to the International Association of Medical Tourism, the following destinations are the most popular:
- Plastic surgery and dentistry. Patients most often go to hospitals in Turkey, South Korea and Thailand to get treated with aesthetic or plastic surgeon.
- Cardiology and cardiac surgery. German hospitals are in the highest demand for the treatment of cardiovascular pathologies. Here they have the highest rate of the successful cardiac bypass surgery.
- Orthopedics and traumatology. The most sought after orthopedic procedure is joints endoprosthetics. Hospitals in Germany and the Czech Republic have a good reputation when it comes to dealing with this area of medicine.
- Oncology and oncologic hematology. Treatment of cancer is a priority for the United States, Germany, and Israel. Hospitals in Turkey and South Korea have also greatly proved themselves in the treatment of cancer.
- Transplantation. Turkey and India are a popular destination for organ transplantation.
- Neurology. Treatment of neurological diseases (multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, Parkinson's disease, etc.) is best provided in Germany, Israel and Turkey.
- IVF and childbirth – is a sought after area of healthcare. Turkish hospitals occupy the first place when it concerns IVF. USA and Thailand should also be mentioned in this area.
- Diagnostics. To confirm or deny a diagnosis, to get a second opinion patients most often go to Germany and Israel. A popular treatment option among medical tourists is a comprehensive “check-up” procedure involving a complex diagnostics of the whole body.
- Rehabilitation. The majority of patients travel to Germany, Turkey and Israel for neurological, orthopedic or psychiatric rehabilitation.
As can be seen, Germany and Turkey are the most popular destinations for medical tourism. No doubt, the state of healthcare is very established as the healthcare system is a priority direction in the economy of these countries.
Treatment in Germany is one of the highest quality. This is proved by statistics and patients’ feedback. German doctors lead with the most prestigious ratings, and famous for the lowest medical negligence rate in Europe.
Healthcare in Turkey went through some substantial progress over the past few years, thanks to the healthcare reform carried out in this country. Turkish doctors are trained in universities of Germany, the USA and Israel.
Arranging your Medical Travel
The majority of people who think about getting treatment abroad have the following questions about medical tourism:
- Is there a visa required and how to go about applying for one?
- What hospital and country is better to choose?
- What are the guarantees and how much does the treatment abroad cost?
Independent arrangement of a medical tour has a number of nuances. The very procedure for finding a hospital, which offers the opportunity to undergo treatment or diagnostics, is very lengthy and labor-intensive.
The main difficulty is that if you are contacting a hospital independently, you will have to wait a long time for a response - if you will be able to contact the right person at all. Experience shows that your request may be addressed within a few weeks or up to several months. This is due to the fact that international departments in foreign hospitals receive a huge flow of patients from abroad from partner agencies. The consideration of individual applications directly in this case is not a priority, since it takes a lot of time and effort. In the case of diseases that are rapidly progressing and require urgent treatment, such an approach is unacceptable. In addition, even if you speak, for example, the German language, this does not guarantee that you will be able to make an appointment with the specialist at the German hospital by yourself. The fact is that in order to receive a treatment plan, estimates and a visa invitation, you will need to provide medical statements translated into German. To translate them is not enough to just speak the language; you need to understand the medical terms.
Booking Health is the only medical tourism representative in the world possessing an international quality certificate. When referring to our specialists, the patient receives assistance in selecting a medical tour, the response from the hospital within 1-5 days (depending on the country and the diagnosis). At the same time, our company takes care of the medical paperwork.
There are also a number of arrangement issues that need to be addressed: visa issuance, purchase of airline tickets, hotel reservation, and transfer from the airport to the hospital. No doubt, these things can be done independently. However, why stress yourself with the administration of booking the medical travel, when you can use that time and energy to rest and recover to good health.
Booking Health managers will assist you with the visa, hotel reservation and tickets. Moreover, the experience of our company allows us to accelerate the whole process. Our staff will meet you in the country you have chosen for treatment, take you to the hospital, and help you to settle in at your hotel. During your stay in the foreign country, you can contact your coordinator for any reason at any time of day or night. You will be provided with any information or service you are interested in.
Price of treatment in the foreign hospital – is another issue which has to be dealt with by the patients. Often, the final bill includes additional costs. This too can be burdensome for patients from the developing countries. Of course, the patient at this stage of treatment is forced to pay the amount that has been put in the final account.
Booking Health provides you with a treatment plan at a foreign hospital with a list of all expenses - both medical and organizational. Even before the trip, you will know the final amount that you will need to spend. We will also help you save money by choosing the best treatment option for you and identifying all the costs.
Only few patients think about the following issue - the duration of the waiting time. There are no exhausting queues in the corridors of the foreign hospitals, which are habitual for us. Nevertheless, without proper organization of the plan of all procedures, and also because of the notorious language barrier, it is sometimes necessary to wait for an appointment with a doctor for a long time.
Your personal medical coordinator will provide you with a schedule of procedures, to each of those s/he will accompany you. Your communication with a foreign doctor will take place in the presence of a professional medical translator.
Insuring the Medical Tour
Healthcare insurance is one of our key peculiarities. All Booking Health medical tours are insured by an authoritative German insurance company. Foreign patients, who book a medical program with our help, do not need to pay an additional insurance cost of up to 50% of the whole program cost.
Choose treatment abroad and you will for sure get the best result!
Author: Dr. Nadezhda Ivanisova