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What is Medical Tourism?

Medical tourism is the concept of travelling to another country to undergo a health care treatment or procedure. As healthcare costs in the United States, Australia and other parts of the world are excessively soaring, many employers and insurance companies start to view medical tourism as a way to lower them. More and more countries around the globe are starting to see the benefits from this emerging market, so they offer premium medical services at notably lower prices.

Things to consider

1. Figure out if undergoing treatment abroad is for you

Eventhough we are huge advocates of medical travel, we will be honest, we do not believe it is for everyone. Yes, medical travel, also known as medical tourism offers the advantages of accessing quality healthcare treatments at a more affordable price, without the long waiting list, and in some instances, a treatment that is unavailable locally. However, cost, waiting periods and availability of treatment may not be the most important factors in one’s decision making process.

For some, the importance of having family around ranks higher than the potential savings. Therefore, undergoing treatment abroad is not the best option for them. For others, not having to wait months, or sometimes even years is more important than undergoing the treatment locally.

We advise you to think carefully and jot down the pros and cons of undergoing treatment abroad before making a final decision. Just remember that you have to be 100% comfortable with the process, as even though hundreds of thousands of patients benefit from undergoing treatment abroad each year, every single patient is different. Every single patient has different needs. Make sure you make the best decision for yourself, and yourself only.

2. Research your available options

Part of being 100% comfortable with the medical tourism process is to do extensive research on any medical provider or facility, treatment, and the doctor performing the treatment or procedure. This research should be conducted regardless of whether you are undergoing a treatment locally, or abroad. We have plenty of information which we have collated for you available through our platform. If there is something you are looking for but you are unable to find it on our website, do not hesitate to speak to one of our Medical Travel Co-ordinators, who will be more than happy to be of assistance!

It is also advisable to read the reviews available about the specialist or medical facility you are considering to give you a better indication of the doctor or the facility’s reputation, medical approach, level of expertise and service, accreditations, awards, and what is nearby!

We highly recommend that you ensure the medical facility or health care practitioner:
– is reputable;
– has a proven track record;
– is registered with or accredited by their local government or the governing medical body or association;
– has never been disqualified from practising anywhere in the world;
– has never been found guilty of endangering a patient’s life; and
– has never been found guilty of malpractice.

You should also note down any preferences you might have. For example, you might be more comfortable with a female doctor, or you may choose to have the procedure or treatment done in a facility that invests heavily in breast cancer research.

In addition to the above, if you are going to be undergoing surgery or major treatment such as a hip replacement, or a cardiac bypass surgery, or chemotherapy, we recommend that you seek out a medical facility that is accredited by either:
– the Joint Commission International (JCI);
– the Malaysian Society for Quality in Health (MSQH); or
– the Australian Council on Healthcare Standards (ACHS).

3. Compare prices

For majority of our clients, price is the main factor in seeking out treatment abroad. It is always a good idea to compare the prices between the healthcare providers and facilities to ensure they are within your budget. The cost of treatment does differ from country to country, and at times, it could also vary due to your medical condition. So be sure let us know if you want to know the costs of a particular country or facility, or if you want to know what the cheapest options for you are.

4. Do you need a companion?

Some treatments such as an organ transplant, or a vertebral body replacement may require you to be accompanied by a companion because of the possibility of requiring additional support (be it physically, or mentally) to help you post-treatment. Be sure to speak to your companion to determine his or her availability to travel, whether they are the best person to provide that required support and ensure they understand what is required of them before, during and after your treatment.

5. Does your treatment normally require follow-ups or further treatment?

For most treatments, if there are any follow-ups required post-treatment, your local physician is able to provide you with the follow-up treatment or care. However, there are a small number of treatments that require you to return specifically for follow-up care. If this is the case, ensure you factor in the time and the logistics involved for the follow-up care plan. This could be as simple as a Skype or online consultation with the specialist that was in-charge of your treatment. Others could be slightly more strenuous such as returning for a round of adjustment such as with the implantation of a pain pacemaker.

6. Check for travel warnings

At Holiday Health, whilst we take every precaution to ensure our patient’s safety, it is also wise to check in with your local government’s department of foreign affairs for any known alerts or warnings for any particular country you are interested to travel to. For example, in Australia, our Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has a website set up specially for travellers. You can find the link by clicking here. It is also wise to register your travel plans with your government so that in the event something does occur, they are aware of where you are.

7. Travel insurance

Eventhough travel insurance will not cover the cost of your treatment, it is advisable that you do purchase some travel insurance for the unexpected events such as flight cancellation, hotel booking mix up, missing baggage, etc. Be sure to read the terms and conditions of the travel insurance closely to ensure you know what you are covered for, and what you are NOT covered for.

We hope this guide has been useful for you and covers everything that you should consider in undergoing for your treatment abroad. If you have any questions, or have any concerns, come speak to one of our helpful Medical Travel Co-ordinators!

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