Medical tourism has gained great popularity in recent years. The rising cost of health care and the long waiting list in countries like the US, Canada, and the UK have forced some patients to seek the possibility of receiving medical care in countries like India, where the cost is lower and the waiting list is shorter.
However, medical tourism has a number of drawbacks. If you are considering medical tourism such as undergoing spine surgery in another country, here are a few things you may want to consider.
Who will perform the surgery?
Doesn’t matter where you decide to go, you want to choose the best spine surgeon to perform your surgery. While some surgical centers in hosting countries invite surgeons from developed countries like the US to perform the surgery, many don’t. Before you make a decision, find out who will perform your surgery and if his or her skill sets and experience meet your expectation.
Safety and quality of care
You also want to check out if the surgical center is well equipped for providing the best quality of medical care. Do they have advanced technology and equipment needed to assist your surgeon in performing a successful surgery? Are their medical staff members well trained to take good care of you? You may not think about these things when undergoing spine surgery in your own country. But don’t just assume health care centers in other countries have the same safety standards as in your own country.
Language and cultural barriers
Can you imagine how scary and frustrating it could be, if you are stuck in a hospital in a foreign country where the medical staff does not speak your language? If you don’t speak their language either, make sure someone from the hosting hospital can and will interpret for you. And find out who will pay for the interpreting fee.
Difficulty of following up
Even if you plan to have an outpatient surgery, chances are you’ll still need a few following-up visits to make sure you are healing well. If you have surgery in a foreign country, find out how long you need to stay there after your surgery. Will you be able to receive continued medical care and advice after you go back home? If nobody can help you solve the potential post-surgery complications, it does not matter how successful the operation itself is. Operation alone is not enough for your well being. You need the whole package, the surgery, and the pre- and post-surgery care, to ensure good health condition.
The overall cost
The surgery itself may cost less in another country than in your own county. But what about the overall cost, which should include the cost for travelling, food and lodge, as well as all associated cost for your companion? Add all the numbers together and see if it’s still affordable to you.
In addition, receiving medical care in another country needs extra planning. While it may be a good option for some patients, it may not work well for others. Find out as much as you can about medical tourism and health care in the country you are interested in. But don’t believe everything you read or hear. Instead, make an informed decision based on your own situation.