Researching and Planning Medical Travel

Any decision involving your health deserves considerable research and careful planning. These days, there are multiple treatment possibilities for just about every disease, disorder and condition; patients even have options concerning cosmetic surgery. Medical travel, of course, adds still another element to the decision-making process, so make sure you understand medical tourism and all that it entails.


This Web site has a wealth of information about many popular medical travel destinations, as well as tips and advice for selecting the appropriate hospital and physician. It is vitally important that you use every resource at your disposal, so spend some time familiarizing yourself with the various options and learning about what medical tourism has to offer.

You can also seek information from outside sources, such as a medical travel agency. An agent can give you "insider" information about the best hospitals, the most efficient travel options, the least expensive accommodations and the countries you might want to avoid. Although you don't have to work with an agent when you're considering medical tourism, he or she can provide you with personalized advice that you won't find anywhere else.

Additionally, don't assume that you can rely solely on information you glean from sources on the Internet or from a medical travel agent. Your situation is entirely unique, which means that you need to communicate with the hospitals you are considering for medical tourism. Make a list of your top five or 10, then contact representatives from each to learn new information.

For example, you can request literature from the hospitals of most medical travel destinations that will provide you with in-depth information about cost, standard of care, accreditation, number of beds, availability of surgical theaters and more. This will give you an idea for how the hospital conducts routine business. You can also request information on the credentials of individual physicians.
Of course, medical tourism isn't just about the hospital, the doctor and the procedure. You will also need to know about the necessary travel arrangements, such as the flight and transportation within the country of your choice.

Will you need to remain in town for several days following your release from the hospital? In that case, you will need to make lodging arrangements at a hotel or with a friend or relative. Which airlines schedule flights to the medical travel destination of your choice? Are any of them direct flights, or will you need to schedule layovers? The length of the flight to various countries should also be a primary consideration, especially if your health condition will make flying uncomfortable.


Once you've selected a medical tourism destination, you'll need to plan your trip in minute detail. Following are a few tips to keep your medical vacation organized.

1 - Comparison Shop for Flights. There may be several airlines that can transport you from home to the medical travel country of your choice, so obtain quotes for each in advance. Choose a reputable airline with as few complications as possible - a direct flight would be ideal.

2 - Communicate with the Hospital. Some hospitals have sufficient room to take patients on short notice, while others might require months of advance notice. Talk to the hospital to coordinate a date for the surgery or procedure that will work for everyone, and make sure all physicians needed for the procedure coordinate their schedules (primary surgeon, anesthesiologist, etc.).

3 - Determine Recovery Time. You may not be able to return home for several days or even several weeks following the procedure. Prepare for all facets of medical travel, including lodging after your discharge. It might help to create a budget to determine how much everything will cost together so you aren't surprised.

4 - Make Payment Arrangements. Some hospitals will require payment up front for medical tourism, while others will accept payment upon arrival. You'll also have to pay for the hotel in which you'll stay, the flight, your meals and any other expenses, so make sure you have a credit card or other form of payment that will be accepted everywhere.

5 - Inform a Friend or Relative. Medical travel is usually very safe, but just to make sure you're protected, make someone at home aware of your entire itinerary, and give him or her contact information to reach you in case of an emergency. You might also need to make arrangements for your home, pets or children while you're gone, so take care of those tasks ahead of time.

6 - Organize Your Documents. The last thing you want is to lose your passport or another form of documentation while traveling in a foreign country and. Put everything you need - paperwork, identification, financial information - in one place and make sure it's accessible for your entire trip.

Next article: Should I Use a Medical Travel Agent?