MedRetreat – Medical Tourism

April 6, 2009

Medical Tourism – Not All Destinations Are The Same

If you are considering medical tourism as an affordable option to the high cost of care in the U.S., you will quickly find on the Internet a large multitude of countries from South and Central America, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, South and Southeast Asia all promoting their advanced, state-of-the-art medical treatment at a fraction of the cost.   

However, after researching the doctors, hospitals, and medical tourism service agencies, the destination country is of significant importance in terms of the total value of your medical treatment experience abroad. If you are new to the medical tourism concept, there are many factors relating to the destination country that should be taken into serious consideration that could mean the difference between a truly wonderful experience and a horribly frustrating adventure. Remember, you are not going on a simple vacation where you can easily manage typical travel inconveniences. Most likely, you will be recuperating from a serious operation, which will greatly hinder your ability to move or adjust to drastic changes as you normally would. With this in mind, here are some of the most important factors that you should really consider about the destination country that you ultimately select. 

  • Infrastructure – Many regions of the world where healthcare expenses are a fraction of what they are in the U.S.  happen to be in emerging economies. As such, their infrastructure is decades behind what we are used to in North America. Therefore, you could end up selecting a destination where the hospital in which you will be staying is literally next to a large slum. Not only are the sights in such areas deplorable, but the smells and sounds could be very disturbing as well. You may be in a great modern hospital with great doctors, but could you have selected a destination with an equivalent hospital and doctor in better surroundings, and at the same price? Talk to your medical tourism agent about this. THINK TOTAL VALUE. 
  • Hotel – Once you are released from the hospital, you will most likely proceed to a hotel to continue your recuperation before flying home. On average, the typical length of time spent in a hotel post-op is between 7 to 14 days, of course depending on the procedure performed. The price, amenities, comfort, security and proximity to the hospitals vary substantially in all the different medical tourism destinations. If you are working with a reputable medical tourism agency, they have hand selected the hotels that they offer for the purposes of recuperation. Check with your agent to insure that the hotels that they are offering meet all the criteria that are important to you, and even better, check to see if that have personally stayed there. Chances are, if your agent has been in business long enough to have developed a good reputation, they have had many clients that have stayed in their hotel affiliates, meaning that they have more bargaining power to insure that any dissatisfaction that you encounter will be dealt with immediately. Keep in mind that the majority of your stay will be in the hotel, so you don’t want to overlook this important factor. THINK TOTAL VALUE. 
  • Navigation – How easy will it be for you to get out and about, especially after you are recuperating from a surgical procedure? Will you be in a huge mega-city that is busting at the seams on every sidewalk, or will you be in a pleasant, laid-back destination where you can take a leisurely stroll though the local markets, as you are feeling better. If you decide to take a taxi to another area of town, will you spend two hours in crippling traffic, or will you hop in a taxi and be in any area of town in 15 minutes? THINK TOTAL VALUE. 
  • Communications – There are many medical travel destinations where English is not widely spoken. Imagine how it would feel to be somewhat dazed from the effects of medication after your operation, and you walk to the local 7/11 to purchase a Coke and not be able to communicate with the merchant. There are several destinations where English is the second language and you would feel completely at ease speaking with everybody? Talk to your medical tourism agent about this. THINK TOTAL VALUE. 
  • Culture – Along with the ability to communicate effectively with the people in your medical tourism destination, is their culture warm, hospitable, and inviting, or distant and uninviting? There are many medical tourism destinations where the doctors, nurses, hotel staff, and local merchants treat you like family every step of the way. You guessed it, THINK TOTAL VALUE.
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