Medical travel agencies help patients to organize their treatment abroad. They contact clinics and doctors, arrange consultations, examinations, tests and surgeries for you, plan your trip and assist with tickets, accommodation, invitation for a visa – sometimes they even offer to organize your leisure and sightseeing in the area. Treatment abroad is an excellent opportunity to combine your health improvement with a visit to a country where you have never been before. Diagnostics, procedures and preventive treatment of illnesses abroad may be of help if you need a rare specialist or equipment, if your recovery might be too long, if you need special conditions or simply want to invest in your health and get the service of world-class medical service which can be offered in Switzerland.
Planning your trip with a tourist agency
Handing over the organization of your medical treatment to a travel agency, you get some advantages, because the organizer of your trip will always be in touch with you. If necessary, you will be assisted if you are lost, don’t know where to change money or where the procedures will be held, etc. During the preparation stage, you will not have to worry about finding trusted doctors and the hospital, negotiate with them, find out details, and select tickets and hotels – all this will be your manager’s responsibility. Depending on your ability and desire, you will be offered sightseeing options to ensure you have a good time in the country and get to know its culture. Nevertheless, when planning treatment is the first thing to be considered. Therefore, choosing a company, give preference to specialized medical travel agencies.
- Distance to the country of your destination
The distance from home to the clinic is one of most pressing issues in treatment planning. You need to consider carefully the flight duration, both to the destination and back home after the treatment is over. Remember, travel always causes stress to your health, so European countries would be the best choice – the flight there will not take too long and the level of service provided in the hospital exceeds any possible expectations. Swiss clinics will offer you the services of the best doctors and medical personnel and infrastructure and technical equipment in line with the highest global standards. So it’s safe to say that treatment in Switzerland is the best investment in your health.
- Cost of the operation
Prices in some countries are low just because the standards there are not the best – though the treatment is safe. In Western European countries, and especially in Switzerland, the clinics meet the highest standards of service and treatment quality but the prices, accordingly, are considerably higher. Similar to hotels, clinics can be categorized into those with luxury services and those where the furnishings and services approximately correspond to a three-star hotel level. Many hospitals in Switzerland resemble five-star hotels with parks for the walks, gourmet restaurants and evening music programs. Other hospitals look modest. However, the external gloss is just something extra, what the crucial thing is that any Swiss clinic boasts the world-famous doctors and the most modern medical equipment in the world. Therefore, when choosing a treatment program, first of all take into account the doctor’s name and reputation (by the way, some Swiss surgeons and leading specialists may combine the work in luxury clinics and more ‘democratic’ hospitals). The agencies involved in medical tourism are connected with a variety of clinics and can provide approximate prices for your treatment and stay both in ‘five-star’ clinics and more modest hospitals. This allows their clients to plan their budget more easily.
The accommodation in the country of destination will be a fairly large part of your budget. Usually, the patient lives in a hotel or rented accommodation for some time before and after the operation. If he is accompanied by a family member or friend, the companion will stay in a hotel or apartment for the entire period of treatment, so the accommodation needs to be carefully selected. Some private Swiss clinics provide an opportunity for patients, both with or without a companion, to live in the hospital building for the whole period. Most hospitals have private wards, some can offer junior suites, suites and even presidential suits for accommodation. However, if there’s no urgent need, it’s probably not worth staying in the hospital for the entire time. First, the atmosphere even in a private, highly comfortable clinic still remains somewhat hospital-like, and secondly, the cost of a night in even a ‘three-star’ Swiss clinic will be even higher in the most expensive luxury hotel. The reason is that when stay in a hospital, apart from the accommodation staff you are also served by medical staff and doctors on duty on a 24-hour basis, and working hours of Swiss doctors are very costly.
Turning a medical travel agency, you can be sure that a comfortable and good accommodation will be provided as part of your tour. Your manager will also offer you several accommodation options at your choice.
Companies usually provide various recovery programs, so you can choose the most convenient option. Buying a full service package together with treatment, accommodation and flights, you can be sure that almost nothing can go wrong. It is always convenient to have an agent in organizing your trip, it will save your time and make the document preparation process and selection of the tour much easier.
Self-planning your trip
Some things can be totally unobvious for someone who is planning the trip for the first time. Just a minor mistake in the plans can affect the overall result of treatment. Most often, confusion happens because of a language barrier and difference in mentality. Even though most hospitals in Europe usually employ English speaking staff, all employees cannot be expected to speak it. Many medical care specialists – nurses and paramedics, physiotherapists, masseurs and some doctors do not speak English at all or are not be very confident in it. In addition, patients who are usually fluent in foreign languages, may become anxious in an atmosphere of medical examination and not fully understand a seemingly familiar language. It is best to arrange an interpreter for yourself who will come to your examinations, and interpret for you on the phone in urgent cases. If you speak language of your doctor quite well but still do not feel not very confident, order interpretation service only for the primary consultation. This will insure you and you will understand if you need to invite an interpreter to other consultations, surgeries, births or examinations, or you will be able to manage on your own. To find a professional, request translation assistance from medical agencies. Some Swiss clinics also work with associated accredited translators.
It is possible to avoid language issues if you have an agent who will personally check if professional translators are available at the destination or provide an interpreter for your trip. Those who do not speak foreign languages at all, rarely go abroad or are poorly oriented on the terrain, those without any language knowledge who are staying in the hospital for a long time usually order themselves translators for the whole business day. In rare cases, for example, of severe illness or treatment in the intensive care unit, or of age changes, diseases like Alzheimer’s or dementia, patients feel more confident with 24 hour translation support, when translators work in shifts. For a standard case, requesting translation during the time of medical procedures and examinations will be enough. At the same time, it is worth booking a specialist for the day of hospitalization or surgery, as doctors and medical personnel constantly come to patients for a check-up and procedures and ask questions. It is extremely difficult to take everything into account, therefore a medical agent will help you avoid problems due to poor planning, such as insufficient language support or a poor choice of accommodation. In spite of the fact that, in theory, you could deal with this yourself, it is better to have a guarantee that all will be according to the plan, and that if necessary, the help will be immediately provided to you.
Medical travel agency – how it can help?
Medical travel agencies or agents are a very important part of medical industry, helping patients to get the required assistance. Intermediaries will help you to save time and collect the information for you in order to provide you with the most convenient options. They will facilitate your trip and put together the most suitable treatment options within a single tour. The work of your personal medical travel manager is an integral part of the entire treatment process of your treatment until the very last moment when you are at home in good health. You will be accompanies throughout the whole journey, and in case you encounter any problems, he will be ready to help you.
During treatment abroad, at some point you may arrive at the destination of procedures to find out that they are no longer provided here. An agent will help to avoid this problem, because organizations involved in selection of medical tours maintain constant contact with hospitals and know where to request procedures. If the patient does this on his own, there is no guarantee that everything will go smoothly, as hospitals’ websites might not be up-to-date and regularly updated.
When you resort to services of a travel agent, one more problem can be avoided – an unexpected change of the original price of treatment. If you use services of an agency, you will have a guarantee that the price for the service itself will remain the same from the moment of procedure booking until it is provided to you. The amendments can possibly occur only in the course of the treatment itself – for example, if the operation lasts longer than planned, emergency medications are used, the surveys require the presence of more medical personnel or the unplanned equipment is used, consultations take more time, and so on – the original cost of treatment might increase significantly. Therefore, it is worthwhile to ensure in advance that the amount available on your credit card is approximately 30-50% more than the estimated cost of treatment.
Choosing a medical travel agency – what to consider?
Today, numerous organizations offer support services for treatment abroad. Some are involved only in specific types of treatment, while others do arrangements only in certain countries. As offers with agencies vary, your task would be to compare them and decide for yourself which one suits you best. The patient will still have to make a lot of effort to check all hospitals and doctors, as well as compare the cost, reviews, recommendations, in order to be sure that he is going to the right place and know what to expect. The best option here would definitely be to contact an agency.
Benefits of a professional agency:
● Expertise of the company’s specialists – highly qualified agents will offer you a country with the best infrastructure for your area-specific treatment and select a suitable option depending on your budget.
● The company’s experience – they know how to successfully organize your trip
● Accessibility – since they are regular clients and hospital partners, you will be able to receive priority treatment
● Full travel package – they take care of everything, guide you almost from door to door and ensure you do not forget anything.
● Final price – the price you pay to the agency will not change and you will not have to pay anything extra provided that the service package does not change.
● Personal agent – you will always have someone to call to and address in case you face any difficulties. Without such contact you may find yourself alone in a foreign country not knowing what to expect
● Savings – due to knowledge of the market and offers, intermediaries will always offer you the best cost-effective treatment option
Medical travel agencies’ main objectives are to build strong relationships with reliable hospitals, best doctors, ensure impeccable service during the trip and informing clients about the forthcoming trip, and much more. If you are unsure which one to choose, request the information on treatment from several agencies, compare the offers and choose the one that suits you best in terms of content, quality, level, and your own taste, of course!