Thinking of traveling abroad for healthcare service? Then you have your work cut out for you. There is this sudden wave of medical tourism weeping the country. Some get it right and others make some very expensive mistakes. While it is important to seek alternative healthcare options abroad, I will implore you to do your home work properly and make sure what you are looking for in “Sokoto” in not already in your “Shokoto” as we say it here in Nigeria. I have compiled this comprehensive check list from my colleagues who work with emergency evacuation healthcare providers to enable you be better prepared for the journey you are about to embark on.
1. Do your research. This speaks for itself. I have seen many people travel for healthcare services that can be done here in Africa for half the piece even. You want to absolutely exhaust your options. Discuss with your personal physicians. We are your partners in your health. Some patients feel the best thing will be to be secretive about things. It is best to work with a professional that can verify that you will be getting most out of the package given.
It is very important that all information about your care after returning back to your country is considered. A patient is not healed until you have helped attained a better quality of life. The doctors abroad should be able to receive update information about the condition of the patient through a detailed medical report and suggest further management If needed for the complete recuperation of the client.
3. Do not let the tourism part of the package out way the health outcome: The worst thing you can do is to allow the location out way the medical outcome of the condition you are travelling for in the first place. Some locations can be quite exotic; Singapore, Thailand, India and the excursions quiet impressive. The last thing you want is to build your trip around a tourist experience. Focus on your health before seeing the city.
4. It pays to start off with a medical outfit that has an affiliation with the hospital abroad: Never and I repeat, never browse for a medical tourism center online. There are many patients that have contacted a medical outfit in a foreign land on their own who eventual got stranded in a foreign country. Always start off with medical outfit in your home country that have a good history with medical evacuation and emergency medical providers.
5. Consider communication: Getting a sim card abroad in some medical tourism countries might be a real chore. In India, a permanent Indian residence is needed in some cases before sim cards can be sold to a foreigner.
6. Ask all questions before the trip:
Some medical conditions may need a multidisciplinary approach to attain complete recuperation of the patient. This means involving more than one specialist. This greatly affects the patient’s budget on the long run. I have seen patients that travel will a budget of $12,000 only to end up spending $25,000. Do your homework.
7. Find out if a medical escort will be needed: There are some dire cases that will require a medical escort on board the air craft during transit. Cases with a patient that requires intensive care, an elderly patient or where mobility is compromised, you might want to consider the option of the need for a trained health care professional escort.
8. Avoid unqualified intermediaries (local agents) – Medical Intermediaries abroad coordinate logistics like, taxing, accommodation, currency conversion, verify doctors specialty and so much more. There have been cases were Medical tourism packages have been booked with illegal accommodations settings. Accommodation in some countries, require a legal permit to accommodate foreigners. You cannot verify all this, without a qualified medical intermediary. If such an accommodation gets raided by the police, you can be arrested and loose everything. Enquire for the details of your medical intermediaries before leaving.
9. It always pays to deal with emergency medical providers or companies that do medical evacuation – There have been cases where patients have died while on transit. In this case, the issuance of a death certificate becomes a huge problem. Only emergency medical providers are licensed to handle such cases and are knowledgeable about administrative requirements and country policies for issuance of death certificates in such a circumstance.
10. Ensure the airline is equipped to transport the patient: There are some airlines that do not have the provision of oxygen for delicate travelers, except in the event of an emergency that has compromised the safety of all on board. So yes, the airline might have oxygen on board but their policy may not permit the use of it by patients aboard the aircraft. The provision of an oxygen tank will have to be discussed with the airline before the trip.
Dr. Juliet Offiah is a Public health media consultant. Follow her on @drjulz_o on twitter, facebook and instagram. Watch her hit health show on youtube called “ We the doctors”. Listen to her award winning radio show, “Health matters with Dr. Julz” on Nigeria info 99.3fm, Tuesdays and Thursdays by 11am. Episodes uploaded on her website. Sign up for my newsletters on www.drjulz.com.