Preparing for a Medical Treatment Abroad
Ambra Andrei - Medical Content Writer
Posted Oct 18, 2016
Whether you’re planning to travel abroad for cosmetic surgery, dental treatment or heart surgery, deciding where to have treatment can be a tough decision. A lot of factors need to be considered to ensure that you find a hospital and doctor that are right for you. We’ve compiled a list of things to think about before choosing where to get treatment.
Quality of Healthcare
First of all, it’s important to remember that healthcare standards and medical practices in some countries may differ from those in your own country and that could result in lower quality medical care. It’s therefore crucial that you choose a hospital that offers treatment of the same or of a higher quality than you have access to locally.
Luckily cost and quality don’t always go hand in hand so high-quality treatment may be available at a much lower price in another part of the world. Without compromising on quality, you can find affordable healthcare abroad if you can’t afford treatment in your own country. Make sure that you read any reviews, complaints, comments, reports and evaluations you can find about the hospitals you’re considering.
Hospitals with the following certifications ensure that you will receive a high standard of medical care:
Joint Commission International (JCI) Joint Commission International (JCI) represents the gold standard in global health care, with accredited hospitals boasting the latest technology and the best doctors. It promotes rigorous standards of care and provides solutions for achieving peak performance.
ISO 9001 ISO is the world’s most recognized quality management system. It ensures that organizations provide a high standard of service so that the expectations and demands of their customers are met.
ISO 9002 ISO 9002 is a quality management system which existed until 2000 when it merged with the ISO 9001.
Temos Temos is an independent certification body focusing on the medical tourism sphere. It assesses medical and dental service providers to ensure that the demands and requirements of international patients are met.
ISQua ISQua or the International Society for Quality in Health Care monitors the standards of organizations which set benchmarks in healthcare safety and quality. It is a key partner of the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Hospital Accreditation (HA) Thailand The Hospital Accreditation (HA) of Thailand is a research and development project funded by the World Health Organization. The HA accreditation process aims to improve the standard of healthcare and encourage continuous improvement.
American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities (AAAASF) The American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities (AAAASF) was established in 1980 to develop an accreditation program to standardize and improve the quality of medical and surgical care in ambulatory surgery facilities.
National Accreditation Board for Hospitals & Healthcare Providers (NABH) National Accreditation Board for Hospitals & Healthcare Providers (NABH) is an Indian quality management system which aims to improve the standard of the country's healthcare organizations and encourage continuous improvement.
At Qunomedical, we work exclusively with institutions that have received accreditations from the Joint Commission International (JCI) or have the highest national accreditation.
Communication may be a problem if you choose to be treated at a hospital that isn’t experienced in dealing with international patients. If you choose a hospital in a country where you do not speak the language or the doctors don’t speak your language, there’s an increased risk that misunderstandings about the procedure and care may arise. The hospitals and clinics that Qunomedical partners with are highly experienced in dealing with international patients, and have English-speaking staff, translators, and high customer-satisfaction ratings.
Check with your insurance provider to see if you’re covered for medical treatment abroad. If you’re from the UK you may be eligible for free treatment abroad if there is a direct funding arrangement between the NHS and the state healthcare provider in the country in which you’d like to be treated. You will have to get prior authorisation from the NHS before undergoing treatment and may be required to pay a portion of the costs. In addition to this it’s advisable to take out comprehensive health insurance that covers medical procedures in other countries before setting off.
Read up on Your Treatment
Find out as much as possible about the treatment that you’re planning to undergo. It’s important to be well-informed and feel confident that you understand what the procedure involves so read up about the procedure online, talk to one of our Health Managers if you have questions or to your local GP or dentist if you have any specific questions about how suitable you are for the surgery. You may also be able to arrange an online consultation with one of the team who will be treating you abroad before you head there.
When choosing a destination, don’t just go for the cheapest option. It’s wise to choose a hospital with surgeons that are highly specialised in, and who have an excellent reputation for performing the type of procedure you’re interested in.
You’ll potentially have to spend a week or two at your destination if you are undergoing extensive surgery and have to receive some aftercare there so take this into consideration when deciding. Check if activities such as sunbathing, drinking alcohol, swimming, or taking long tours are permitted after surgery.
Know Your Medical History
When choosing a hospital, you’ll be asked to fill out forms detailing your medical history. While your doctor in your home country may be able to provide you with information about your medical history, it’s often very difficult for them to share your files with hospitals in your own country, not to mention with facilities which are located abroad.
If possible get copies of your medical records, you are also entitled to copies of letters written about you by your doctor. Make sure that you have all of the information you need relating to your medical history, and provide completely honest, detailed answers to questions on the form so that you can be treated effectively at your destination. You should also list any allergies you have and medications, including vitamins and supplements, that you are taking.
Talk to Your Local Healthcare Provider
Your local GP, dentist or clinician can provide you with a valuable second opinion when making your decision. They can also provide you with advice about treatment options and tell you whether they are necessary or suitable for you. Take this opportunity to find out if you require any vaccinations 4 to 6 weeks before traveling.
Write down your most important questions and don’t be afraid to ask for clarification if you don’t understand something. Take notes and bring along a friend or family member if you think it might help. Before you leave, check that you’ve covered everything on your list and have understood everything, that you know what the next steps are, and find out who you should contact in case you have any further questions or have any problems. Ask for copies of letters written about you as you are entitled to see these.
Make sure you understand the possible complications and side effects that could arise from your treatment. Discuss an aftercare plan with your local health care provider to make sure appropriate care is available when you return to your home country. You may need post-operative care or help if there were any complications or side effects. When you return from your trip, bring back copies of your medical records to give to your local doctor or dentist. Make sure that the records include a description of the procedure you underwent, as well as information about medications you received, and the results of medical tests.
Many of the following risks involved in having a procedure abroad can be avoided simply by choosing a fully-accredited hospital which is recognised as providing a high standard of healthcare by an international regulatory body:
If the facility you choose doesn’t meet the standards of your home country doctors may reuse needles between patients or perform other unsafe practices, which can transmit diseases such as hepatitis B or C, malaria or HIV. Patients will also be put at risk if the blood supply hasn’t been screened for blood- borne infections.
Medication may be of poor quality or even counterfeit in some countries.
Antibiotic resistance is a global problem, and there are multi-drug resistant bacteria in healthcare facilities around the world.
If you are undergoing an organ transplant, be aware that organs may have been harvested from vulnerable people (for example prisoners) in developing countries without their consent. As a result, “transplant tourism” and selling organs are illegal in many countries.
Following your surgery, you may be more vulnerable to local health risks, as your immune system may be compromised so again, make sure you’ve had all of the requisite vaccinations before travelling.
Flying after surgery increases the risk for blood clots.
Don’t Feel Pressured into Making a Decision
Think carefully before booking any treatment abroad if the hospital or medical travel company you’re considering booking with try to give you a hard sell or pressure you into making a decision too quickly. Additionally, if they don’t provide you with all of the information you request, don’t talk about aftercare, and don’t discuss possible complications or side effects you should have second thoughts.
You should feel satisfied with the hospital’s accreditations and the qualifications of the medical team who will be operating on you. You should also feel comfortable asking as many questions as necessary until you are well-informed about the care and treatment you will receive.
Make sure that you have a written agreement with the healthcare facility detailing the treatments, medications, and care covered in the cost of the trip before paying anything. Determine what legal actions you can take if anything goes wrong with the procedure.
If you do your due diligence beforehand as detailed above, it should go much more smoothly when it comes time to travel for your treatment abroad.
Find the Right Specialist at a Fraction of the Cost
Qunomedical only lists clinics and doctors that have been thoroughly vetted with quality and affordability in mind. Contact us for your 100% free, non-binding assessment.