Medical Tourism: Is The Technology Up To Snuff?

With increasing globalization and integrated world, healthcare is also gradually globalizing. As healthcare costs rise in the developed world, more patients prefer to travel to destinations that offer them better and cheaper healthcare. Though logistics and reliability are often seen as constraints, there is an increasing confidence among medical travelers. In an ageing world, reliable medical tourism offers interesting options.
Medical Tourism: Is the Technology Up to Snuff?
Source - Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ASurgeons_during_a_leg_operation.jpg)

Medical Tourism or flying overseas for affordable treatment is gradually becoming a viable option, particularly as the technology in some of the developing countries catches up with the developed world and the differences in wages and price levels means a huge difference between the costs of treatment. However, there are issues which one must consider before resorting to it.

 

Projected as a $ 60 Billion global industry, medical tourism is often seen as a panacea for the escalating health care costs in United States, especially for the millions without insurance cover. However, the mere thought of flying to an alien land,

and putting yourself to the mercy of unknown people evokes a lot of anxiety and doubt. An issue of great concern is the reliability of the hospitals in those countries, and whether the technology used there is comparable to that available in United States.

The main destinations of medical tourism are India, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia and Philippines. In all these countries, the quality of services offered is not universally good in all the Hospitals. Thus one needs to be sure about the Hospital one is visiting, and the best way for that are the accreditations that the hospital has.

The most reliable accreditation is that provided by Joint Commission International (JCI), the international arm of Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals (JCAHO) which accredits almost 90% of Hospitals in United States, after a rigorous monitoring of its procedures and quality that are measures across 300 standards and 1200 measurable elements of quality. A JCI accreditation is a reliable certificate of that Hospital meeting the quality standards of a standard Hospital in United States.

Technology has become a very mobile


entity. The best hospitals in Asia now have the best technology. More than technology, it is the skills of the doctors that matter, and it is here that some of them have gone ahead. Escorts Heart Center (now Fortis) in Delhi has a mortality rate of 0.8 % in heart bypass surgery, almost half that of the average rate in United States. It is also the first Hospital to successfully use robotic techniques in heart surgery that considerably reduce the risks.

This comparable technology comes at an incredible affordable cost. Last year, Kevin Steward, of Florida became the first American patient to undergo a liver transplant in Apollo Hospital in India at a cost of $ 55,000 instead of the $350,000 which he would be required to spend in United States, and which he was unlikely to arrange in the four months of life that he had without a transplant.

Many doctors in India, Thailand and Philippines are actually trained in United States or U.K. where Indian doctors form a substantial chunk of working physicians. In these countries the overall systems of medicine as well as the medical technologies used is very similar, hence there has been a lot of acceptance of these destinations as a source of affordable health care. Given the realities of cost and constraints of national health care systems, the trend may only grow from here. However, the individual visitors must seek information about the prospective hospital, find whether it has accreditations, and try to gather details and testimonies about its reputation before committing themselves.
 



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