Medical tourism refers to a situation where a patient travels to another city or country in search of medical treatment. Although it has only become popular in recent decades, it has been in existence since time immemorial. While patients have different reasons for crossing the borders to seek treatment, most people consider it because of high treatment costs at home.
Why do people travel in search of medical treatment?
There are many factors that influence the decision to seek medical treatment elsewhere. Some of the reasons include:
Certain doctors and specialists, as well as hospitals and medical facilities in general, are known for being the best when it comes to treating certain illnesses and disorders. People will travel great distances in order to get the best treatment possible. For instance, many people struggling with substance abuse will travel to get treatment in California due to the world-renowned care many of the state’s leading facilities provide.
Sometimes people travel for medical treatment in order to save money. This has been a growing trend in the United States for many years now, where healthcare costs are notoriously high. Roughly one-and-a-half million Americans traveled for medical treatment in 2017, with savings reported to be between 20-90% of the cost of comparable treatments and procedures back in the states.
Some countries have been known to have the best-specialised treatment. They have highly qualified medical professionals and high-tech equipment to offer these services. The most sort after specialised care seems to be the cosmetic treatment for western countries and cancer treatment for most third world countries.
Cost of Travel is Affordable
Moving from one country to the other has become cheaper and less of a hassle as compared to decades ago. This has made it easier for international travels.
How to Prepare for Medical Travel
Just like any other travel experience, you have to plan ahead and prepare for your medical travel and time away from home. When preparing to travel for medical treatment, you must do the following things:
- Consult your local doctor
It is important that you talk to your doctor at least 4-6 weeks prior and explain to him/her your reason for seeking treatment away from home. The doctor will help assess your condition and prepare you for the trip especially if you are leaving the country for surgery. You might need to be given some special treatment to facilitate your travel if your condition is delicate. The doctor will also advise you of any anticipated complications that may arise as a result of the trip.
- Compile your medical records
Your new doctor will need to know your medical history and the best way to know this would be through your previous medical history. Also bring with you copies of all prescriptions including the dosage, brand names and generic names.
- Do your research on the destination hospital and environment
Research on the hospital you intend to go to, if possible call the hospital and request to talk to the doctor. Ask as many questions as possible. Also, get to learn how you will communicate to the doctors if the language spoken is foreign to you.
- Ensure that your travel documents are in order
Facilitate your passport and visa well in advance and confirm the validity of the visa. Some countries give six months while some give three months. If you will be accompanied by a medical attendant or a relative, ensure that they have their documents right.
What does the future hold?
Medical tourism is expected to grow exponentially in the coming years. With factors like affordability, better health care, and reduced travel cost, more and more patients will be sold to the idea of medical tourism.