The medical tourism industry has been steadily progressing over the last few decades, and now more than 12 million people travel abroad for medical treatment each year. More and more hospitals are opening in developing countries to accommodate the ever-increasing demand for medical tourism as the cost of healthcare in the Western nations continues to rise at alarming rates. Along with the rising number of international hospitals and healthcare centers opening around the world, the standards of care are also rapidly rising. This high quality of care would continue into the future, as hospitals look to attract international customers to their facilities for service.
India is one of many countries rapidly developing its medical tourism industry. India has seen about 1,78,000 tourists visiting the country for medical purposes in the year of 2016 alone. The major share of tourists was from the US, UK, and Canada. Rest of the tourists were from the countries like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and China. Such tourism popularity for India is mainly due to some of the defining factors mentioned below:
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1) Checking Hospital’s Credentials:
Many hospitals in developing countries partner to get international accreditations ensuring that basic international health standards are met by the facility. Ensuring you choose accredited hospitals helps make sure that you are receiving treatment in a hygienic atmosphere where risks of illness/diseases/etc are minimal. These are usually hospitals associated with the country’s best medical universities. These universities provide doctors and medical personnel who are trained there with the highest standards of education and training in their fields.
These larger health institutions also provide the most advanced medical equipment available. This is possible as their available funds and resources than any single member institution would usually have. They also have more specialty areas, as their medical facilities are bigger and have more specialized staff and equipment available to serve patients with. These are the best facilities to choose, as they have the most experience performing a variety of procedures.
2) Death/Disease Risks Associated With Treatments:
Hospitals’ success rates keep track of how much percent of the patients leave the facility satisfied. The higher the success rate, the less likely that hospital is to lose patients in the future. These success rates also account for things like patient morbidity (death) and/or rates of infection/illness among admitted patients. Cases of re-admission are also considered when determining a hospital’s success rate. Reading into a hospital’s success rate can tell you your chances of dying while receiving treatment, contracting a horrible disease, or having to be re-admitted to do a poor job done by the hospital staff. Most internationally-accredited hospitals have negligible rates of error, and risks are considered minimal. Choosing facilities with the lowest risks of death/illness/disease possible ensures the safest experience you can have. Being treated at an internationally – accredited hospital in a developing country generally holds no greater risk than being treated in a hospital in places like the US, UK, or Canada.
3) Determining A Hospital’s Specialties:
Most hospitals provide treatments for many conditions, however, each one has a few specialty treatments or services they are renowned for. Patients are advised to choose a hospital that specializes in the procedure or surgery in which they seek treatment. As more and more developing countries obtain newer, more advanced technology, more and more facilities are offering more invasive procedures. This is also being done so more safely. Modern technology combined with doctors’ knowledge of medicine has made it very safe to get procedures done in developing countries. Due to lower labor costs and taxation rates, however, getting these same procedures in developing countries is much more affordable than getting the same treatment in Western countries.
For example, hospitals in Bangalore (India) are worldwide famous for orthopedic procedures like hip replacements. Fortis Escorts Heart Institutes (FEHI) hospitals undertake almost any heart or cardiovascular procedure imaginable. This includes care from the prenatal stages all the way through the oldest of patients. Other prominent states like Maharashtra, which receives about 28.5% of India’s medical tourists and Tamil Nadu attracts another 15.7% of India’s medical tourists. Benefits of medical tourism for India come in the form of people paying treatment, as they come in from abroad to receive quality treatment. This is estimated to be a $7-8 billion industry in India by 2020. Reasons for medical tourism vary greatly, but most hospitals or cities have specialties that people seek treatment for like people traveling to Bangalore for orthopedic treatments.
4) Accepted Payment Methods:
Most hospitals provide many various options for payment methods to help make it more convenient for patients. Online payments have become a popular way to pay for medical treatments, especially for international patients who are being treated abroad. This allows payments to be made from any part of the world virtually instantly.
Most hospitals and facilities also offer other payment options for those not familiar with online payment methods. Patients should check ahead of time with the medical facility to see which types of payments they accept. Many hospitals and healthcare facilities offer payments in almost any other method you can come up with including cheques, money orders, debit cards, credit cards, and in rare cases although it’s not advised cash. It is also an advisable practice to pay before undergoing the procedure. This is because health insurance usually does not cover medical care provided abroad.
5) Individualized Care:
For a hospital to be reputable and business oriented, they must provide the services that medical tourists are seeking. International hospitals are the prime examples of facilities that cater to a variety of patients from various ethnicities, cultures, religions, and backgrounds. You can travel to any internationally-renowned hospital that is accredited by international organizations like the Joint Commission International (JCI), and know that you will be treated with dignity and respect during your stay. To treat patients with anything than total respect would run the risk of the hospital building a bad international reputation. It would risk being banned as a recommended facility for treatment. This ruins the reputation that these facilities cannot afford to lose, therefore respecting every individual patient is paramount to their international reputation and success as the best medical tourist destination hospitals.
However, having said that, each hospital does have certain policies and procedures in place as to how they ensure patients being treated well during their stay. It is the responsibility of the patients to do thorough research into the facility they will be staying at. Contact the facility with any questions you may have, prior to your arrival for medical treatment. Ask any question you may have after reviewing their website and going through all the information provided in it. Learn much as you can. Be an educated tourist and consumer. Notify the facility ahead of time of any special lifestyle or religious accommodations you may need (i.e. kosher food, vegan/vegetarian diets, etc.) or personal lifestyle needs (i.e. allergies, health conditions, phobias, etc). This ensures the best chance of you receiving the care you need during your stay. Be reasonable with your expectations, and the facility will be happy to accommodate your individualized needs.
In A Nutshell:
When one undertakes the responsibility to do proper research, excellent care can be available in many various medical tourists’ destinations abroad. Medical tourism benefits include saving a lot of money on a procedure that needs to be performed, or elective surgeries people opt to have (i.e. plastic surgery, dental procedures, etc.). Even after traveling expenses, people can expect to spend a fraction of what they would in overpriced Western nations for the same care.