Frankie Wallace is a freelance journalist with an interest in aviation news and politics. Wallace graduated from the University of Montana’s Journalism school and currently resides in Boise, Idaho. The views expressed in this article are solely his.

Medical tourism is becoming more and more common for a number of reasons. The first is the rising cost of healthcare in the United States. Identical procedures are often available for thousands less outside the country. It is not just about the money, though. In some countries, medications or experimental procedures not yet approved in the U.S. are available and performed.

proved in the U.S. are available and performed.

Besides these factors, there are qualified specialists overseas who do not practice in the United States and give the patient the option of excellent care and proven outcomes. As a result, patients are traveling abroad for medical procedures.

Before you Google the surgery you need in another country and pack your bags, there are a few things for you to consider and some preparations you will have to make:

Preparing for Your Trip

Of course, this is more than just about packing the right items in your bags. Traveling abroad, especially for a medical procedure, involves a lot more than that. There are many things you will have to ensure you have ready before you go. The steps are similar to those you would go through before accepting a job assignment overseas:

  • Documentation: Not only will you need a passport, but you may also need a tourist visa and other documents that will allow you to seek medical care in that country. Check with your destination country to make sure you have everything you need.
  • Inoculations: Guess what? You will probably need some shots and immunizations before you travel overseas. This means you will have to be healthy enough to get them without affecting your condition or your ability to go through the procedure you are traveling for.
  • Assess All the Risks: What is the political climate in your destination country? What will the weather be like? Are there any imminent political or environmental threats? If there are, you may want to adjust the timing of your trip accordingly.
  • Be Prepared: What will you do if something goes wrong? What if you are delayed by weather or other issues? Have contingency plans in place.

Along with these tips for traveling and staying well, you will also need to have a plan to get back to your home country if recovery takes longer than you anticipate or you need special arrangements to get back home, like a flight with a medical escort.

Know what airlines to fly, and what options they have available. What airlines travel to Mexico and other countries often change, and an airline that has just started offering service may be less crowded and offer better accomodations for your trip.

Once you are ready to fly and have everything you need, you’ll need to plan the rest of your trip.

Make Accommodation Arrangements

When you travel overseas for a procedure, you need to think about where you will stay before and after the procedure is done. You will want to limit your hospital stay to what is necessary, but you will likely need some recovery time before you return home. If someone is traveling with you, you will need to make accommodation arrangements for them.

In large part, this depends on the medical procedures you are traveling for and the country where you will be staying. Often, regular hotels and Airbnb options are sufficient, but in some cases you may want to consult with a travel agent or the hospital themselves. You’ll need to make sure you are in the same area as the hospital and you are in a good neighborhood where services you might need are also nearby.

You may also want to warn the hotel or your hosts about what you are doing and that you may need to extend your stay. You don’t want to be in a situation where you have to seek new accomodations in the middle of your stay. Remember: Know the country and the area where you are going ahead of time. Research the city and the events there ahead of time. Festivals, conventions, and other happenings can make it difficult to extend your stay. Be prepared.  

Medical Tourism and the Healthcare Industry

Besides your own surgery or treatment, medical tourism is having several impacts on the healthcare industry worldwide. As a patient, many of these things work to your advantage. The effects of medical tourism on the healthcare industry are widespread.

  • Driving Innovation: Most medical innovation arises from emergencies or diseases that can have catastrophic or fatal consequences. Thanks to medical tourism, the push for this innovation is a global effort.
  • Enhancements in Local Healthcare: It is easy for a hospital or practice to get stuck in the pattern or providing for the needs of their local community, especially overseas. These hospitals are being driven to enhance services by those who travel for medical care.
  • Push for International Standards: As healthcare becomes globalized, there is a push for international standards for education, safety, and practice.

Medical tourism also has a huge impact on developing nations who are engaging in healthcare innovation. The social and financial impacts alone are huge to various populations, but when combined with increased intellectual development and political standing, medical tourism is of even greater value.

Medical tourism is a viable option for many patients. There are a lot of things to consider first, from travel risks, restrictions and arrangements to how long a patient will need to stay abroad. The impact on the world and each country is huge, as healthcare enters the same global arena as other industries.

Featured image from the American Osteopathic Board of Surgery

Categories: Exclusive