The development of medical tourism has led to the establishment of several ancillary facilities for international patients worldwide. Be it payment requests, language barriers or even special dietary needs, no need is left unattended to ensure that the patient gets the best treatment, s/he can possibly receive.
Here’s a look at some of the many amenities that medical tourists these days have access to:
- Online Doctor Consultation: One of the cardinal requirements of a successful medical travel is choosing a doctor with whom the patient is comfortable. Medical tourists these days have the convenient option of consulting their doctors online before they actually reach the destination.
Patients can upload their medical reports, face video consultations and obtain recommendations from their doctors while at home. This helps in averting any uncertainty that the patient might have, with their physician, treatment or destination.
- Online Payment Options: The evolution of internet and mobile banking has made transactions in the medical field extremely simple.
Medical tourists can now make payments to international hospitals online, with minimal worries about security or delays. Certain global payment solutions providers have entered the field of medical tourism, to provide payment options across international borders, for patients traveling abroad for medical care.
- Medical travel insurance: Medical travel insurance is a by-product of the thriving medical tourism industry. Insurance companies in increasing numbers are offering medical coverage and medical travel is now a reality for even the lowest columns in the income levels.
The standard coverage of a medical tourism insurance covers everything from medical complications, trip cancellation and medical evacuation to acute illnesses and injuries, which may arise during the medical trip. Such insurances are available for the patient and also the traveling companion. Insurance companies also offer specially tailored packages for patients depending on the treatments they have opted for.
- Transfer of medical records: A patient’s medical records need to be completely examined before s/he undergoes any medical treatment or procedure abroad. These days, most records are maintained electronically in computer databases; which greatly simplifies the transfer of medical records of a patient as s/he is moved from one hospital to another, no matter the distance. However, for the patient to obtain a hard copy of his/her medical records, a nominal fee is generally charged by the hospital.
- Rehabilitation centers: Medical tourists have several facilities to help them recover after the treatment. Most hospitals that host international patients also have spas, fitness centers and recuperation programs to help patients get back on their feet.
Patients recovering from nervous disorders, rheumatism or circulatory problems greatly benefit from such medical spas. Owing to the constant innovations in the medical field, special rehabilitation programs are also designed in such hospitals. One such program helps patients recovering from limb surgery to regain maximum mobility in their arms and legs.
- Translational services: A major problem that many medical tourists face is overcoming the language barrier. As more and more countries with limited English proficiency become medical tourism hubs, translational facilities are now available for foreign patients.
Medical-tourism oriented hospitals now have several language translators and interpreters, most of whom have a medical background. Documents such as case return forms, financial assistance forms and medical reports are also translated at the patient’s request.
- Special dietary requests: For patients with allergies or specific diet requirements, most hospitals arrange for separate foods that meet their nutritional needs.
Sometimes, the patient may also be unaccustomed to local foods and ingredients, and may thus request for specially prepared meals. Hospitals that treat international patients have trained chefs and nutritionists to ensure that all such dietary needs are taken care of.
- Foreign Currency: There are certain restrictions that are imposed by different countries on the amount of foreign currency that one can keep while travelling abroad for medical care. Globalisation and liberalisation of regulations that deal with foreign currency markets make the exchange of currency very easy. For example, in some parts of Mexico, Costa Rica and Honduras, the US Dollar is widely accepted although not officially regarded as legal tender.
Hospitals, apart from being open to numerous international currencies, have also established foreign patient care desks, where they address any needs relating to foreign exchange and currency.
- Religious Facilities: Keeping different patients’ religious sensitivities in mind, hospitals in modern times have churches, temples and mosques for the patients and their families to visit in times of need.
Strategies adopted by governments:
To encourage medical tourism, several strategies have been adopted by governments of different countries. The globalization of the healthcare market, for one, has mobilized the industry tremendously by encouraging foreign investment and the setup of international hospitals.
The rapid privatization of the healthcare sector has also opened up the boundaries of health care tourism, with new private institutions taking charge of providing quality care to all. Furthermore, governments of different countries in the healthcare industry have also started marketing their treatments and health tourism industries intensively. Several promotional measures such as offering tax deductions, customized medical visa packages and setting up multi-specialty hospitals have taken place over the last decade, in the effort to make medical tourism a thriving industry.