MedRetreat – Medical Tourism

May 14, 2009

Medical Tourism Success – It’s All In The Relationships

When choosing a service or product, most people base their final decision on the quality of the relationship they have with their merchant or sales person. If you think about it, relationships are the true heart and soul of all business transactions.
 
When traveling abroad for healthcare, one of the best ways to ensure a safe and pleasurable experience is by accessing good, solid relationsips between a medical travel facilitator and their foreign associates. High quality relationships provide good leverage to get things done appropriately, with a high level of satisfaction.

One of our clients was quoted for a six hour operation and it actually took twelve. Because of our strong bond with the hospital, they waived the extra charges. That’s a huge benefit that may not have been offered in the U.S.
 
There are other advantages to working with a reputable medical tourism facilitation agency when seeking surgery abroad. A few examples include:

  • an effective conduit of communication with overseas facilities
  • accurate arrangement of all the details and logistics
  • list of references to draw upon
  • pre-negotiated discounts

But again, one of the most important criteria you should consider is the quality of relationships they have with their affiliates. Solid relationships ensure that your needs and concerns are immediately addressed. When it comes to deciding on a medical travel facilitator, you need to know how well-connected they are overseas. We happen to have direct access to the CEO’s of our affiliates. That can be a good card to draw upon, if needed.

For more detailed information, please visit MedRetreat.com

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May 11, 2009

Medical Tourism – Choosing A Doctor Abroad

In recent years, thousands of patients throughout North America have been packing their bags and traveling to far corners of the world in search of more affordable surgical procedures at world class hospitals in foreign countries.  This trend, known as “medical tourism,” has been gaining considerable traction as the economy teeters on the brink of full collapse. As more and more people consider this option of traveling so far away from home they will want to insure that they are able to identify the best possible surgeon for their specific case. But what is the best method for this?

Selecting a doctor for your medical procedure abroad can be a cumbersome and frightening experience as you try to identify their true experience and credentials. First and foremost, it is important to keep in mind that there are great doctors all over the world, as well as bad ones just like in North America. Too often many people think that if they just review the Doctor’s résumé, they will be able to determine the quality of a given doctor. However, without a medical background, it may very difficult to comprehend the medical terminology along with the various research and fellowships programs the doctor in questions may have participated in.

If you think about it, most patients in North America rarely review a resume or bio of their surgeon. Instead they rely on referrals from their general practitioner or a family member or friend. 

When it comes to identifying a highly skilled, world-class surgeon abroad the first step that you should take is to contact the hospital representative. Hospitals know their consultant surgeons better than anyone else, and if they cater to international patients they will want to insure that they put their best surgeons on your case to insure the best outcome. 

After speaking with the hospital staff, the second best method of identifying the best surgeons is to speak with patient references about their experience. By speaking with references, you will learn about the doctor’s skills, bedside manners and ability to communicate. 

When you contact a reference about a doctor, you will want to discuss the following points about the surgeon and staff:

  • Listening skills
  • Communication skills (verbal, nonverbal, English)
  • Bedside manner
  • Quality of service
  • What is the specific procedure protocol?
  • Technology & equipment used
  • Addressing individual concerns
  • Addressing pain/discomfort
  • How many procedures performed?
  • Outcomes data

Perhaps the best method of finding the best surgeon for your case is to work with a reputable medical tourism facilitation agency, such as MedRetreat. Not only will they be able to provide you with multiple references to speak with, but they will also have a vested interest in working with the best surgeons and your total experience from beginning to end.

May 7, 2009

Hospital Considerations When Traveling Abroad for Surgery

If you have determined that medical tourism is the right option for you, then you will certainly want to select the best hospital abroad for your treatment. Since there are more international hospitals to chose from with high standards and accreditations, you would be wise to consider the following criteria.

1.  LOCATION 

Many regions of the world where healthcare expenses are a fraction of what they are in the US 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?  

2.  WHAT AMENITIES ARE OFFERED

  • Meals
  • Room for companion
  • Private rooms
  • Television (English Language programs)
  • Internet Access – WiFi
  • Mini Refrigerators
  • Showers
  • Welcome kit – Soap and towels
  • Electrical outlets – voltage converters
  • Affiliation with a medical tourism facilitation agency

3.  HOSPITAL EQUIPMENT AND SUPPLIES

Does the hospital in question employ the same state-of-the-art equipment and supplies that you would find at your local hospital down the street?  Make sure to inquire about imaging equipment, computer assistance navigation, and/or prosthesis brands to name just a few.

To learn more about medical tourism and hospitals abroad, contact a US-based medical tourism facilitation agency, such as MedRetreat. Most reputable agencies have conducted tremendous due diligence of their affiliate hospital partners on behalf of the American patient.  They will be able to answer all your questions about the hospital and provide you with references from past clients that you can speak to.

May 4, 2009

Medical Tourism Leading to More Educated Consumers of Health

The current trend in medical tourism is now providing all consumers of health with tremendous options as never seen before. In the past most Americans chose hospitals for their medical procedures that were located in their local communities or within the network of their insurance providers. As such, very few patients made the effort to research the success rates and other important statistical facts of their local hospitals.

With this new availability of global options, many patients are now beginning to discern very important facts about the hospitals under their consideration. This educational process is a very important to increasing the awareness and level of care provided throughout the global healthcare industry.

For more information about medical travel, please visit MedRetreat, the leading U.S. medical tourism facilitation agency.

April 29, 2009

Flying Home After Surgery Abroad – Important Considerations

Your return flight home following a surgical procedure may be very uncomfortable, especially on the longer trans-pacific flights.

You should talk about the potential discomfort on your flight home with your surgeon before your departure. He/she will address your concerns by providing you with advice and possibly prescribing medication to help manage your pain appropriately.

Depending on the type of procedure you have abroad, you should consider the following:

Wheelchair Assistance

Wheelchair assistance at the airport can be arranged for your return flight home. If you feel that you will require wheelchair assistance, you should let the airlines know within 48 hours of your scheduled departure time.

All international fights require a doctor’s note in order to receive wheelchair assistance. Therefore, you must inform your doctor that you will need a note before your last follow-up visit. Once you receive this note, you must contact your international airline 48 hours prior to your departure to request wheelchair assistance. Be sure to let them know that you have a doctor’s note. Also, once you check into the airport for your departure flight home, make sure the airline has arranged for wheelchair access at each of your layover airports.

It is important to understand that wheelchair assistance cannot be completely guaranteed. The airlines will certainly do everything they can to accommodate your request, but they simply cannot determine the supply and demand for every individual flight. Therefore, it is very important to communicate your desire for wheelchair assistance as early in the process as you can.

Bulkhead Seating

Bulkhead seats are the row of seats on an airplane that separate the different sections, such as first class from business class and business class from economy class. In most case there is a wall placed between these different sections. As a result, bulkhead seats have more leg room than other rows in standard economy class and are much more comfortable. However, in most cases, bulkhead seats may only be obtained at the time of check-in.

If obtaining bulkhead seats is very important to you, you will need to check with your airline 24 hours prior to departure to see what time they will be opening the check-in counter for your particular flight. If you are able to arrive early enough, you stand a better chance of obtaining a bulkhead seat. Please note that there is no way to guarantee a bulkhead seating, as these seats are assigned at the discretion of the airline.

For detailed information about seating on airplanes you can visit Seat Guru, a great source of airplane seating, in-flight amenities and airline information at the following link:

http://www.seatguru.com/

Fare Pricing – High/Low Season  and Holidays

A successful and stress-free medical tourism experience requires significant planning and execution, and your flight arrangements are no exception. In order to receive the best value in terms of rates, routes, and availability you should begin booking your flights at least 1 month prior to your target departure date. You will also have to consider the season and holiday schedule your particular destination. For example, you might think that the end of January is the low season for your medical retreat in Southeast Asia, and as such believe that you will find the best rates and routes for your flight. However, you will be surprised to learn that Chinese New Year is celebrated at this time of year and there are no flights available. Make sure you research the dates and discuss them with your travel agent.

How Far Can You Travel After Surgery

Rest assured that people have been traveling great distances following medical procedures since the inception of the airline industry. The two key factors one must consider when traveling by air for healthcare is the recuperation time following their procedure and the comfort level for flying.

When making arrangements for your medical retreat, you want to insure that you allow plenty enough time following your procedure to fly home safely and comfortably. This time frame will certainly depend upon that type of procedure performed. The surgeon should ultimately assist you in this planning phase.

Working With A Travel Agent

When arranging your medical retreat, you should always try to work with a travel agent and not book your flights over the Internet. A travel agent my cost you a bit more in the end, but when it comes to medical treatment it is imperative that you have flexibility with your itinerary in order to accommodate potential changes, as well as an actual person to contact for assistance.

Prescription Medication During Flight

Following your procedure, your doctor will most likely provide you with medication, usually in the form of antibiotics and painkillers. Be sure to ask your doctor for instructions about taking such medication during extended flights. It will be important for you to move about and perform certain exercises during your flight, so you will not want your medication to interfere with this.

Required Travel Documents

For international flights, you must carry and maintain your boarding pass, passport, and entry visa if required. You will want to make sure that you store these items in a save and secure place during your flight. Also, be sure to make a copy of your passport/visa and keep them in a separate place from your originals in case the originals are lost. These copies will help to acquire your new passport/visa with the American Consulate abroad if the need arises.

Airport Taxes

Many international airports assess an airport tax, which must be paid in cash in their currency prior to your departure. The average tax amount generally equates between $15 and $20. Make sure you know the amount for this tax before you arrive at the airport so as to avoid any problems or delays.

Reservations – Booking Enough Time For Delays and Missed Flights

It is highly advisable to always build in at least 3 hours for layovers and connections for your international flights in order to avoid any potential weather delays or mechanical problems. A missed flight could potentially jeopardize your entire medical retreat, as your procedure time will have already been locked-in.

Flight Changes – Understanding Rules, Restrictions and Penalties

As previously mentioned, a flexible itinerary for you medical retreat is highly recommended, which is why you should always work with a travel agent to arrange your flights. However, all airlines have different rules, regulations, and penalties for making changes to your flight. These rules include everything from booking on a weekday versus a weekend, to number of layovers during your flight. These penalties can range from $25 to well over $100 for each passenger. So make sure that you discuss the change policy with your travel agent and understand the implications.

Missing Your Flight

Should you for some reason miss your flight, you should contact the hospital or your facilitation agency as soon as possible to see if you’d be able to rearrange your scheduled medical appointment. There may be some instances where you will not be able to proceed on to you medical travel destination due to the doctor’s schedule. This is why it is so important that you always build in enough time for unforeseen weather or mechanical problems.

April 21, 2009

Flying For Medical Care

Medical tourism, or surgical procedures abroad is certainly a viable alternative the the high cost of care in the U.S. However, many of the popular medical travel destinations that offer the greatest value in terms of quality, price and comfort are thousands of miles from North America, which means that you will encounter long flights in your journey.

Keep in mind that flying is the safest form of transportation. And the vast majority of air travelers reach their destinations comfortably and with no health issues whatsoever. But, air travel does present a unique environment that can cause certain stresses to passengers. Check out these tips and stay healthy and comfortable on your flight.

QUICK TIPS FOR HEALTHY AIR TRAVEL

Get some rest before you fly – in the days before your departure, be sure to get plenty of sleep. No matter how comfy your seat is, it can be hard to get to sleep on airplanes and your own bed will provide a more restful sleep. 

  • Drink plenty of water and juice – the airplane environment is dry. Humidity levels on the plane can drop below ten per cent and cause ailments from dry skin to dehydration. Drink plenty of fluids, but avoid alcohol and caffeine, which just dry you out further. 
  • Move around the cabin – maintaining good blood circulation during air travel can help avoid discomfort and rare, yet potentially serious, diseases like Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). This circulatory disorder can be life threatening, so it’s worth learning about. Getting up and walking when the fasten seatbelts sign goes off helps prevent DVT. 
  • Prevent motion sickness – if you’re prone to carsickness, consider medication for your flight and don’t do a lot of reading. Do consult your doctor prior to taking anything new. This goes for over the counter stuff, too. Luckily, there are a lot of options that really do work for air travelers, such as travel sickness wristbands.

There are many other important considerations when flying abroad for healthcare.  For detailed information about traveling safely for medical care, please visit MedRetreat, the leading medical tourism facilitation agency in North America.

April 13, 2009

Safe, Affordable, Cosmetic Surgery Abroad

To be sure, cosmetic surgery is not for everybody.  That being said, our modern, technologically advanced society has increased our life expectancy tremendously over the past couple of decades, enabling Americans to live more active and healthier lives as never before.  As a result, many baby boomers have decided to seek out ways to turn back the clock on their physical appearances in an effort to match their more active lifestyles.

Cosmetic procedures like the face lift, neck lift, forehead lift, and eyelids, can easily make one appear 10 years younger.   However, these cosmetic procedures generally come with a hefty price tag.  The average price of a full face lift in the U.S. often runs between $12,000 and $14,000, if you include the surgeons fee, along with the anesthesiologist,  and operating theatre (OR).  

However, many Americans have discovered that there is a very safe and affordable alternative to the high cost in the U.S.  This alternative is referred to as “medical tourism,” or “surgery abroad.”   In many foreign destinations, you can obtain a full face lift  ranging in prices from $3,000 to $5,000, which includes the surgeons fee, anesthesiologist and OR.  Even after factoring in the flights and hotel accommodations, one can easily save thousands of dollars.

But before you jump online and schedule your appointment in a foreign destination, there are many safety factors that you must follow from the outset.

1.  Know the doctor.  If possible try to find a doctor that is U.S. Board Certified, so that you can back up their credentials with proof, instead of what they tell you or place on their website.

2.  Speak with at least two references about the doctor’s expertise, listening skills, bedside manner, etc.

3.  Make sure that the surgery will be performed at a full-service tertiary care hospital, or at least on the grounds of one so that a trauma team can arrive on scene within minutes in the unlikely event that something goes gravely wrong.  Many cosmetic surgeons abroad perform their surgeries at clinics that are miles away from an actual hospital.

4.  Consider having your surgery performed under local anesthesia with sedation, versus general.  For starters, local anesthesia is less expensive than general, and there is also less potential for severe adverse reactions.

5.  Allow yourself enough time to fully recuperate.  After any surgery there is a risk of infection.  You should plan on remaining at least 10 days in your destination after your surgery to insure that there is no sign of infection and you are safe to travel home.

6.  Always remember that surgery is very serious undertaking and should never be taken lightly.  Your medical retreat is not a vacation, and should never be taken as such.

7.  Follow the doctor’s orders. 

There are of course many other precautions that you must consider before traveling abroad for cosmetic surgery.  The purpose here is to simply highlight some of the more obvious ones.   For a very safe, stress-free, and proactive experience, you should consider working with a reputable medical tourism service agency like MedRetreat.  These companies have conducted significant due diligence of the doctors, hospitals, and destinations on their patients behalf.    As part of their service, they will guide you seamlessly through a structured process to best guarantee your safety.

April 10, 2009

Hip Replacement Overseas

First performed in 1962, the hip replacement has become a very safe and common procedure.  According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), approximately 200,000 to 300,000 hip replacements procedures are performed every year in the U.S.  Many experts claim that this number is expected to rise to roughly 600,000 annual procedures within 5 years. 

Without insurance coverage, the average cost of a hip replacement in the U.S. is about $50,000.  However, the same procedure performed at many state-of-the-art hospitals overseas is approximately $11,000, a potential savings of $20,000 to $30,000, even after factoring in the flights, extended hotel stay and all other travel essentials. 

Most Americans may not be familiar with the concept and growth of medical tourism in the past few years, and if they are, they most likely conjure images of a dental implant or a nip-and-tuck on a tropical island.  They would probably be surprised to learn that un-insured and under-insured North Americans are routinely traveling in droves to exotic places like Malaysia, Thailand, or India, to undergo hip replacements and knee replacements, spinal fusions, artificial disc replacements, and hysterectomies

To understand why this trend is growing in such a fashion, it is important to look beyond the obvious cost savings of such a venture.  The savings have always been there, but what has transpired over the past decade has been the globalization of medical care. 

  • Medical device companies aggressively market and sell their latest prosthesis and high-tech instruments to a global market. 
  • Surgeons are educated, trained, and board certified throughout the world and by similar standards.
  • The Joint Commission on the Accreditations of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO), which accredits the quality and safety of American hospitals, established the Joint Commission International (JCI) to accredit foreign hospitals on their quality and safety.  
  • The Internet has placed global options at the fingertips of individual consumers. 

These combined developments have leveled the competitive “playing field” in the global market for surgical procedures such as the hip replacement. 

So if you are living in pain due to a lack of appropriate insurance coverage, you many want to seriously consider pursuing your hip replacement overseas as a valid and safe alternative.  If you decide that this option is right for you, the safest way to go about it is to work with a reputable medical tourism facilitation agency like MedRetreat.  Such an agency can immediately bridge the communications, lingual, cultural, and time zone gaps and provide you with invaluable information about the doctors, hospitals, and destinations.  They will also manage all the planning and logistics of your surgery date, hospital check-in and out, hotel arrangements, ground transportation, and much more so that all you have to focus on is your hip replacement and recovery.

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.

March 31, 2009

The New and Definitive “How To” Guide to Medical Tourism

As the North American authority in the facilitation of safe, high quality, and affordable medical travel, MedRetreat’s managing director, Patrick Marsek, was approached in early 2008 by Alpha Publishing to co-author “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Medical Tourism.”

Released nationwide on March 3rd, this book is an easy-to-read, comprehesive guide to the fast-growing phenomenon of medical tourism (overseas healthcare). The information in this book is based on years of experience in facilitating medical travelers in their pursuit of high quality, affordable surgical procedures ranging from cosmetic and dental procedures to hip and knee replacements, spinal fusions, artificial disc replacements and hysterectomies.

For anyone even considering medical tourism this book will answer all your questions and provide you with the tools you’ll need in planning a safe and affordable medical retreat.

For more information about the book, please visit http://www.medretreat.com/member_services/medical_travel_guide.html

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