The Beginner’s Guide to Medical Tourism

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Text author: Edward Collins

Many people travel abroad for medical treatment while also enjoying a vacation. However, it is essential to be aware of the laws, customs and climate of the foreign country to avoid any misunderstandings or disappointments.

AiroMedical has created a beginner’s guide to medical travel to assist with finding the best specialist and selecting the most effective treatment.

What is Medical Tourism? 

medical tourism

Nowadays, seeking medical treatment abroad has become a common practice. Many patients feel dissatisfied with the healthcare quality in their country, particularly regarding severe or rare diseases. In such countries, diagnostic errors are common, and even treating relatively simple illnesses can result in complications due to a doctor’s failure to follow proper care protocols or prescribe appropriate therapies. 

Globalization has allowed people to choose hospitals outside their country for more suitable and specialized treatment. Medical tourism presents numerous benefits, including access to qualified expertise in a particular field and the ability to receive treatment that may not be available in the home country. 

According to official data, the medical tourist’s number is growing by 20% annually. Some countries known for providing high-quality medicine are Germany, Austria, Czechia, Israel, the US, and Canada. These countries offer the latest methods of patient examination, advanced surgical procedures, and effective treatments. 

Finding the Perfect Medical Tourism Clinic 

medical tourism

The International Association of Medical Tourism says the most popular are: 

  • Plastic surgery. For the services of plastic surgeons, medical tourists most often go to clinics in Turkey, South Korea, and Thailand. 
  • Cardiology. The most significant demand for treating cardiovascular diseases is in hospitals in Germany. Here is the highest success rate of coronary artery bypass grafting. 
  • Orthopedics and traumatology. The most popular orthopedic procedure is joint replacement. Clinics in Germany and Czechia cope with it best.
  • Oncology. Treating cancer is a priority for the US, Germany, and Israel. The hospitals in Turkey and Czechia have also been proven to treat cancer. 
  • Neurology. Treating neurological diseases (multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, etc.) is popular in Germany, Israel, and Turkey. 
  • Diagnostics. Patients often go to Germany and Czechia to confirm the diagnosis and get a second opinion. Also popular among tourists is the check-up procedure. 
  • Rehabilitation. Most patients go to clinics in Germany, Czechia, and Poland for neurological, orthopedic, and psychiatric rehabilitation. 

As you can see, the most popular destinations are Germany, Czechia and Turkey. And this is quite reasonable — medicine in these countries is a priority in the economy. Statistics and patient reviews confirm the highest medicine quality in Germany. German doctors lead the most prestigious ratings and are famous for Europe’s lowest medical error rate. It is home to some of the most famous hospitals worldwide, including the University Hospital Rechts der Isar Munich and the University Hospital Charite Berlin. 

Czechia is thriving as a country with an efficient healthcare system, with superior surgical specialties at a cost several times less than the United States.

Cost Considerations for Medical Tourism 

As a rule, the total cost of service in the clinic includes:

  • Medical services include treatment, operations, diagnostic procedures, tests, consultations and medications.
  • Stay and meals.
  • Airport — clinic — airport transfers.
  • Personal manager services.

The final cost of treatment may differ from the initial one. The preliminary cost for prepayment is calculated based on the submitted medical documents, but the diagnosis may change based on the examination results. Accordingly, the patient may need a completely different treatment. Payment is always made only after signing a contract (agreement) for receiving medical services.

Wealthy patients usually choose between Germany and Israel. Patients who prefer a budget treatment option go to Poland, Czechia, Lithuania, or Korea. For example, one dental implant costs more than $3.500 in Germany, about $700 in Czechia, and a slightly higher price in Poland. Thus, dentistry in Czechia and Poland is more attractive for Germans, not to mention residents of the US, where prices for dentist services are even higher.

What Types of Treatments Are Available Through Medical Tourism? 

medical tourism

Several areas of medical tourism differ from the main ones related to diagnosing and treating diseases or plastic surgery. Some have appeared recently; some cause ethical disputes or are not regulated by law.

Transplantation. These are trips for organ transplantation or stem cells from an unrelated donor. In 2010, the World Health Organization issued revised Guidelines for the Transplantation of Human Cells, Tissues, and Organs, emphasizing that cells, tissues, and organs should be donated without financial rewards. The sale of organs and tissues is prohibited.

Surrogate motherhood. The US, Canada, and Georgia are popular destinations for this type of medical tourism. In some countries, it is entirely or partially prohibited, for example, for religious reasons and in connection with the facts of unacceptable behavior of surrogate parents. 

Unique procedures are available abroad:

  • Deep brain stimulation in neurological diseases.
  • The latest radiation therapy modifications include brachytherapy, proton therapy, and intraoperative irradiation.
  • Stem cells in treating oncological, orthopedic, and neurological diseases.
  • High-intensity focused ultrasound.
  • Lutetium-177 PSMA therapy.

Surgical treatment abroad saves a person from the disease and does it in the least traumatic way. Operations are carried out with minimal blood loss and without large scars through the natural openings of the body, skin puncture, or through blood vessels, etc.

How Do I Find a Reputable Medical Travel Company? 

A medical tourism company helps patients organize trips abroad for treatment. By contacting one, patients can enjoy several advantages:

  • Getting a free consultation from a doctor-coordinator on your problem in an understandable language.
  • Choose the most suitable hospital, considering the need for examinations and therapy options.
  • Get a preliminary online consultation with a highly specialized foreign doctor.
  • Properly prepare all medical documentation and send it to a clinic abroad.
  • Receive 24/7 support.

The key advantage is organizing the entire process in the shortest possible time. 

It is worth starting with the choice of a medical program: diagnostic, therapeutic, or rehabilitation. You can do this on the AiroMedical platform. Here you will find hundreds of the best hospitals in 16 countries and see the current prices of medical programs. All the information is presented very simply. Even a person without medical education can easily understand the illness guides and find the best doctor for treatment. 

You can book a check-up or treatment package online in the chosen clinic. If you need additional help, you can always contact our doctors. AiroMedical experts will select the best clinic specializing in treating your illness and take care of the organization of treatment abroad.

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Cover photo author: © Jared Rice from Unsplash

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