With great advancements in the health care of foreign countries combined with the skyrocketing costs of health care back home, an increasing number of individuals are taking their medical procedures abroad. This practice of traveling to a foreign country for the purpose of receiving medical attention has been branded as Medical Tourism or Health Tourism. We’ve covered an overview of what Medical Tourism is all about, answered the common question, “Could Medical Tourism really be safe?” and put our two-cents in on which country to choose for Medical Tourism.
If you’ve decided medical tourism is right for you, and are ready to take the next steps, congratulations! Medical tourism is a great option to save money and receive quality treatment. Now that you’ve made the most important decision, it’s time to prepare for success. Preparation and recovery are the two crucial components of medical tourism that will make or break your experience.
Medical Tourism: Preparation And Recovery
Learn About Your Procedure
Understanding the specifics of your procedure will be important in preparing for your trip. What’s the recovery process like? How long do you need to recover? How soon after your procedure could you fly home? Will you need to bring a travel buddy to help take care of you after the procedure? All of these questions are essential in understanding what it will be like before and after your procedure, and will help you best pack, plan, and prepare.
Decide Whether You Will Go With An Agency Or On Your Own
There are an increasing number of Medical Tourism Agencies that will help you find a doctor, and work out the logistics of your trip. These agencies can be of great benefit to medical tourists as they often have good connections with doctors abroad, and will most likely have a community of medical tourists associated with them that could provide insight about their experience and share useful tips. Going through a Medical Tourism Agency may be beneficial in that they’ll handle the logistics that might otherwise make your head spin. It’s also possible that if something goes wrong, these medical agencies can provide a sort of liability that would otherwise be unavailable. Although, this will vary depending on the agency you choose.
On the contrary, going with a Medical Tourism Agency might not be the right fit for you. Some, but not all, Medical Tourism Agencies form pacts with clinics and doctors abroad and will refer you based on the connections they have, rather than solely the qualifications of the physician. This is not to say any given Medical Tourism Agency will send you to a quack just to make some extra money. They will most likely still be sending you to quality doctors—but it’s something to be aware of as you do your research. Additionally, going through a Medical Tourism Agency will likely make your trip a bit more expensive.
Decide whether you think you could handle trip preparations on your own or if you think you need the infrastructure of a larger organization. Do research on your particular procedure, choose the right country for your procedure, and then search for a doctor on your own. Are there any specific doctors you have in mind? Can you contact them directly and work with them to make arrangements? If the answer is no, it might be better to go with a Medical Tourism Agency as they can help ensure you see a qualified doctor. Just be sure to do ample research on the Medical Tourism Agency you choose and make sure they have good recommendations and a track record of success stories. Be sure to understand the processes they use in finding a doctor, and the benefits you’ll receive by going through them.
Be In Contact With Your Doctor/Clinic Of Choice
While it may be possible to stroll into a hospital or clinic abroad and receive medical care without having made an appointment, we certainly wouldn’t recommend it. You’ll want to have done your research well in advance to be sure you choose a doctor or clinic that will give you quality medical care that’s safe and accurately priced. After choosing a doctor, be sure to decide on a date and make an appointment. From this point on, as you continue to make preparations to leave, be in contact with your doctor. Your doctor should be able to provide you with useful information about how to best prepare for your procedure, and how to best plan for the recovery process. Your doctor might even be able to suggest options for accommodation nearby, or connect you with people and resources that will make your trip more convenient.
Plan The Specifics Of Your Trip
After doing research on your particular procedure, and connecting with your doctor of choice abroad, it’s now time to plan the details of your trip. You will want to plan as much ahead of time as possible. Receiving medical treatment–whether abroad or on your home turf–comes as enough of an inconvenience on its own. Being well prepared for your trip will minimize difficulties along the way. When it comes time for your procedure, the last thing you will want to have to worry about are logistic specifics. Make sure to arrange plenty of time off work, have your flights booked, consider taking a travel buddy with you, arrange accommodation, determine a plan for transportation in-country, and even consider what you will do for food.
Plan to make your trip as comfortable as possible. Receiving medical care in a foreign country could potentially be a challenging experience as you battle cultural differences AND recover from a medical procedure. However, any challenges you may face from being in a foreign country will be significantly reduced if you plan to make your stay comfortable. It’s true you chose medical tourism to save money, but that does not mean you have to stay in a budget hotel that will make recovery a nightmare. Make plans that will ensure a comfortable experience abroad. You will likely still be saving money even with comfortable accommodation, and trust me when you’re stuck in your hotel room recovering from the procedure, you’ll be thankful you spent a few extra bucks on a nice place to stay.
Pack For Success
Be sure to take the time to make a thorough list of what you might need abroad, and pack well in advance, allowing plenty of time for you to add or take away items from your suitcase. The last thing you’ll want is to land in a foreign country for medical treatment and realize you left an important document back home. Be sure to talk with your doctor or agency about specific things you may need to bring with you. Gather all the necessary documentation well in advance, and have it well organized and ready to go. The specific documentation required will depend on your particular procedure and the doctor your choose.
Talk With Your Doctor Back Home
Your regular physician may or may not agree with you going abroad for treatment. Regardless of their opinion, it’s important to inform them of your choice. You will likely need to gather medical records and documentation from them. When you return home after completing the procedure, you will need to be able to work with them should there be a need for follow-up care. It’s important to have this open line of communication with your doctor at home.
Plan For A Successful Recovery
Be sure to take off plenty of time from work. Research your particular procedure and understand the recovery process. Plan to stay in the foreign country for plenty of time after the procedure, so the doctor can provide you with the follow-up care you need. Should something go wrong after your procedure, you will want to be able to return to the doctor. Additionally, some procedures require a specific amount of time before you can fly. Taking all of these components into consideration, make sure to thoroughly plan for your recovery time abroad.
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Choosing Medical Tourism is a great way to receive quality medical care while saving money. Many factors go into a successful medical experience abroad, but if you prepare properly, you can avoid many mishaps and have an overall positive experience.
Have you traveled abroad to receive medical attention? Share your tips for preparation and recovery in the comments below!