NOT ALL MEDICAL TOURIST DESTINATIONS ARE EQUAL.
Choosing a medical destination that matches your medical and personal needs is essential. The Medical Travel Quality Alliance (MTQUA) has questions to ask yourself before considering medical tourism. By asking yourself these questions, you have a better chance of selecting a medical tourism destination that is right for you.
17 questions to know your medical travel personal profile:
- Do you need a highly specialized surgeon or physician?
- What kind of sophisticated state-of-the-art technology do you need?
- Would you like to be near to your home, family, or friends?
- Is cost the most crucial factor?
- Are you on a tight schedule?
- What is your budget?
- Will you also be making a holiday out of the trip?
- Does it matter if other people know you have had a medical procedure abroad?
- Are you concerned about language and communication?
- Does seeing poverty on a large scale bother you a lot?
- Are you concerned about social and cultural customs? Or religious practices?
- Is this a one-time-only event for you?
- Will you need some time for recovery before returning home?
- Will someone be accompanying you, or are you traveling alone?
- Are you well-traveled or have you ever lived abroad?
- What level of personal comfort do you want in the hospital accommodations?What about non-hospital accommodations? 3-star to 5-star? Private standard or private VIP?
- Do you have a passport that is valid for at least six months?
11 questions about your medical travel procedure or treatment needs:
- Is this major surgery?
- Is this elective surgery?
- Do you have access to all reports of investigations and recommendations from any doctor who has seen you?
- Does your local physician support your medical travel?
- Do you know the duration of each stage of your procedure will take?
- Pre-surgery preparations, surgery, immediate post-surgery recovery, and post-discharge care management?
- Is this “original” surgery, or corrective or follow-up surgery?
- Do you have special physical or medical needs, allergies, or conditions?
- Are you concerned about the hospital or clinic’s certification?
- Are you worried about complications either during surgery or after surgery?
- What other concerns do you have?
HOW TO FIND THE BEST HOSPITAL AND DOCTOR
Are you ready to choose the best doctor or hospital to treat you?
All hospitals are not the same. Even the best hospitals in one country may not be as good for you as the best hospitals in another country. You may want first to choose a country to go to and then find a hospital or doctor there who can take care of you.
Is the hospital accredited?
Hospitals must have accreditation by their country’s national health care accreditation board or an international accreditation board.
Canada, Australia, and other western countries’ accreditation systems were established 70 years ago. Their review boars rigorously and regularly track patient outcomes, problems in surgery, and after care.
Some countries, such as India, United Arab Emirates, and China, have accreditation boards that are only 10-15 years old. Do these countries have the same history, experience, and monitors as the others?
Does the hospital have a medical tourism certification?
MTQUA medical tourism certified hospitals understand that medical tourists are not ordinary patients. This is because medical tourists are travelers away from home and family. They need special attention in treatment and care to get the best possible results. As a result, medical tourism-certified hospitals are consistently improving the quality of care for medical tourists.
How do you pay the hospital?
Does the hospital take your insurance or health plan? Are you a self-pay patient? Is your government sponsoring your medical needs? Do you know if there are financial arrangements in place to ensure that your treatment is not interrupted due to payment? What happens if you can’t pay immediately or in advance?
Also, do you know the amount and form (e.g., cash, bank transfer) of advance payment required?
Does the hospital offer you a doctor with experience and success with your condition?
How does the hospital select a treating doctor for you? What choices do you have? Is there full disclosure of the success of the hospital and doctors in treating your condition?
Under what conditions can you request a second opinion? What if you change your mind and don’t want to undergo treatment?
What is the hospital's reputation?
Does it have good reviews or high ratings on the internet?
Internet ratings are unreliable for “foreign” hospitals, as there are not enough inputs to show quality or reliability. Be very cautious of ratings, patient reviews, and word-of-mouth comments in forums.
How to find the medical destination that's best for you
You may be tempted to choose a medical destination for its tourist attractions, weather, or ease of travel. Yet, medical destinations vary in culture, language, social norms, and religious customs. To this point, medical professionals and hospitals also vary in their approach to medical treatment and care.
Be careful if choosing to go to a medical facility, not in a major urban center. You want the best hospital and the best doctor, don’t you? Rarely will you find the best hospitals and doctors outside of major cities in any country.
Be prepared to find differences among countries and hospitals in:
- Pain medication
- Diagnostic methods
- Right to life
- Right to die
- Patient information and patient rights
- Patient privacy
- Other health-related issues that may be important to you or your treatment
It is impossible to “certify” a country, city, or region as a top medical destination; for example, Bangkok, Thailand, has more than a dozen international-style hospitals. However, Pattaya and Phuket’s popular Thai beach resorts have one international-style hospital each. Are Pattaya and Phuket as good a choice for you as Bangkok?
Hospitals in any of these cities may be acceptable. This depends onthe treatment you seek and the risk you want to take as a trade-off for quality, safety, and cost.
It’s your decision.