It’a good to know there are people looking out for you. Deloitte LLC recently published the 2009 Medical Tourism Update. You can find the entire report here.
This report lists the Medical Tourism Association’s guidelines for those considering travel abroad for medical treatment.
- Medical care outside the US should be voluntary.
- Financial incentives to go outside the US for care should not inappropriately limit diagnostic and theraputic alternatives, or restrict treatment referral options.
- Financial incentives should be used only for care at institutions accredited by recognized international accrediting bodies
- Local follow-up care should be coordinated and financing arranged to ensure continuity of care.
- Coverage for travel outside the US for care must include the costs of follow-up care upon return.
- Patients should be informed of rights and legal recourse before traveling outside the US for care.
- Patients should have access to physician licensing and outcomes data, as well as facility accreditation and outcomes data.
- Transfer of patients’ medical records should be consistant with HIPAA guidelines.
- Patients should be provided with information about the potential risks of combining surgical procedures with long flights and vacation activities.
If your medical facilitator ensures that standards on each of these points is high, then you have chosen a good facilitator. But there is much more to this equation.
Surgery and health treatment are serious matters. After all, it’s your life we’re talking about. That’s why it is so important to have someone you trust helping you through the process. Of course this begs the question: How do you know who to trust?
The answer can sometimes be difficult. Consider the following:
- Ask a lot of questions - You may not know all the right questions to ask. That is why it is important to ask many. If you don’t understand something your doctor of facilitator is telling you, keep asking questions until you do. This is your life, your body, and your money, so being able to make informed decisions will help ensure a favorable outcome.
- For information, go straight to the source – It is very important that you check out information related to the facility you’ll go to, and the doctor who will be handling your case. Pretend you are a private eye and that no one is trustworthy. Look for corroborating evidence from other independent parties (like JCI or The Medical Tourism Association). Your best move is to be proactive in your own care.
- Find others who have traveled for treatment – Connecting with people today is very easy. With all of the social networking sites available, you should be able to make contact with others who have traveled for surgery or other treatment. Thousands every year travel for a myriad of health care needs. Don’t just rely on the referrals given to you by your facilitator, find your own sources of information.
- The Human Touch – Most of us make decisions about people very shortly after we meet them. What does your gut tell you? If you are planning to travel halfway around the world to have surgery, your instincts should never be discounted, so trust yourself. If you don’t feel your “sixth sense” about people is very strong, invite someone you trust as a good judge of character to meet your facilitator with you.
- Always compare what is said with what is done – If your facilitator says they are going to do something and it doesn’t get done to your satisfaction, or if it was done in a way that doesn’t line up with what they said they were going to do, find another facilitator.
Here are some sources of information to get you started:
You can also order a book called “Patients Beyond Borders.” It is a comprehensive look at at the basics of medical tourism.