Over the recent decades, the Internet has entered our lives so much that it’s even difficult to imagine how we used to live without it. Technologies are constantly evolving, making the Internet faster, more accessible and reliable. This has largely contributed to the expansion of medical tourism industry in recent years. Access to proven and reliable information has become much easier, making the patient much more independent in planning their treatment. In this article, we explain what to search for online to plan your treatment abroad.
Evaluating the cost of treatment abroad
Today, it’s much easier to plan your budget in advance, because almost every clinic has a website where you can usually find prices of the provided services. Being aware of the approximate cost of treatment in certain countries and clinics, you will easily determine where to plan treatment based on your financial situation, and if you have an international health insurance, to what extent the costs of your treatment can be covered.
Establishing contact with the clinic
Contacting clinics and doctors around the world has never been so easy – what seemed almost unachievable before, is at your fingertips today if you have Internet access. You can directly contact hospitals and doctors you are interested in and ask them for the information you need. If you don’t have time to make inquiries or face difficulties communicating in foreign languages, you can resort to specialized medical tourism agencies to organize your treatment.
Also, it makes sense to address an agency when you are not sure which specialist or clinic you would like to visit. Good medical agencies will offer several treatment options. It would be useful to find out about treatment methods, length of recovery after operations, possible complications of treatment, conditions in the hospital, nutrition and so on. Most importantly, you will be able to easily find relevant records in the future, as they will be stored on your mail server. Some agencies offer an additional second opinion service – primary online appointment with a doctor and expert assessment of medical tests made in your home country earlier. Even when you still planning your visit and choosing a country, it is possible to ask for an independent medical examination. After you receive a second medical opinion from a specialist in Switzerland, for example, you can further continue treatment in your home country, go to the US, UAE, Israel or any other country, or decide in favor of treatment in Switzerland itself. Usually, agencies charge an hourly rate or service fee for the provision of organizational services.
If you already have a doctor or hospital in mind, and the language barrier is the only thing that stops you on your way to organizing the treatment on your own, you can simply engage in organization activities an experienced medical interpreter who lives in the country of your future therapy. On an hourly rate basis, the interpreter will arrange an appointment with your doctor, translate your emails and accompany you during the treatment when you arrive. You should approach the choice of a medical agent or interpreter as carefully as the choice of the clinic and the doctor. We will dwell on this in more detail in a separate article.
Evaluation of quality and reliability
Several international companies globally check hospitals for compliance with the world standards and, following the procedure, issue a certificate of compliance. In countries with highly developed medicine such as Switzerland, an expert evaluation can also be delivered by an independent state or public organization. Thus, the certified hospitals are considered to be among the best in the world. They usually employ the best doctors who will be able to assist you with your problem. Any patient can go online and check the information about the chosen doctors or hospitals and ensure the best treatment option for themselves.
Medical data transfer
When you transfer your medical history from one doctor to another, a lot of information can be lost if it is just a paper version. Test results may fall out somewhere, required x-rays can be lost, and the document itself can become old and shabby. With the development of computer technologies, all data about a patient can be stored in a single file on a PC and transferred to other clinics if necessary, so that the patient and the doctor can be sure that nothing is lost on the way. The services for transfer and storage of medical certificates are offered by various clinics, as well as some medical agencies. But before you create a personal electronic medical record with an agency or clinic which will make possible for different doctors to record your data and file x-rays and other tests’ results there, be sure to ask about the protection system for your data. Serious companies resort to information coding or ensure the confidentiality of your data using a multi-level password and key protection system.
Coordinating a future appointment with your doctor
In addition to making an appointment for a consultation with a doctor abroad via the Internet, patients can use it as a tool to coordinate the upcoming meeting. In most cases this can only be done via email or a coordinator – an agent or the doctor’s administrative assistants. But a new world system in on its way, where you are able to change the time of the consultation for a more convenient slot, check if you’ve received answers to your questions and monitor the upcoming meetings online at any time. At the moment, you can always ask for additional services and keep in touch with the doctor from your home country through a coordinator.
Many online portals can offer you a choice when booking hotels and airline tickets. Depending on your requirements, you can find a suitable hotel and flight option yourself or ask your medical tourism agent to assist you. After the reservation is confirmed, usually you will be able to make changes or cancel it. Depending on the options selected, the cost will be fully or partially refunded. It is best to book tickets and hotel accommodation no later than 12 weeks before the planned trip as chances that all seats in a suitable flight will be sold out or all rooms in the hotel are occupied are much lower in this case.
All in all, it can be stated with confidence that the Internet is an indispensable tool in the world of modern medical tourism. From selecting a clinic or an agent, contacting a doctor and interpreter up to booking a ticket, transfer or accommodation – anything can be done online. To save your money, health and time, be sure to explore all possible options on the Internet when planning your medical trip abroad.