Transparency of care in medical tourism is a very essential component of overall success. Since medical tourism involves patients traveling across the border, it might not be possible for a patient to collect all necessary information in advance about healthcare indicators at the destination. Hence, it’s essential that healthcare service provider should provide the necessary information in utmost transparent manners to protect the patient and medical tourism industry.
Given the growing number of medical tourism providers competing to grab a bigger share of the booming industry, the need for transparency in care is more than ever. More a provider is transparent in its offerings better is the business prospect in terms of earning trust and reliability, two strong pillars of the medical tourism business. Medical tourism is no longer restricted to seeking low cost elective treatments while enjoying an overseas vacation. People are leaving shores for complex treatments crucial for their survival.
Consumers are seeking more transparency in listed offerings:
Events of medical tourists getting duped or deprived of assured services are creating headlines for quite some time. But the gear is shifting. Consumers are more knowledgeable and enlightened. They are looking for transparency in every aspect of medical tourism. They want to get a clear idea of what appears to be murky in most cases. They can make a fair comparison of providers reigning the market. It is, however, beneficial for both sides. Patients can make their own choice and providers can get the business and win the patient’s trust instead of landing into troubled waters from fake promises.
What is transparency in care?
Simply put, providers should display honesty and clarity in four major sectors: quality, physicians, treatments available and the cost. Providers should clearly explain patients what service would they get and at what price. They should also detail the clinical outcomes of particular specialists and clinics/hospitals. Patients should get due quality assurance. They should be made aware of any issues which might not be in their knowledge, including but not limited to cultural, legal and ethical issues.
- Healthcare providers must disclose proper information about the qualifications, licensing status and training of the healthcare professionals / surgeons / technical team.
- The information about the success rates of the operating teams should not be exaggerated. Medication errors, infection rates and death rates are factors that consumer should know prior to travel to destination.
- The healthcare provider should make available all destination related healthcare indicator for patients so they can prepare well in advance.
- As much possible pre-operative diagnostic procedure should be done at home country of a patient to rule out any doubts, which could lead to non-performance of surgery or complication during / after surgery.
There are many cases in which patients were refused by an international hospital because a patient didn’t meet surgical criteria, most of the time such a situation could have been avoided by doing few investigations in advance. Hospitals should also arrange for information about the country’s healthcare indicator including – recent disease outbreaks, prevalent, common communicable diseases or any specific disorder which might be important for a patient from a specific geography, etc.
Such a practice is essential to create transparency of care in medical tourism. The above points are not comprehensive or discussed in complete intensity but provide good nutshell information for both patient and healthcare provider concerning transparency in medical tourism.
How to introduce transparency?
Patients will shop for medical services. They will look for affordability but not at the cost of quality. As a provider, you should allow that. Your transparency in care and services will ultimately draw customers. Here you have to stand apart from your competitors. Healthcare is a complex matter due to the uniqueness of patients and treatment outcomes. However, factual information regarding quality and cost, coordination and patient-centric approach should always fetch good outcomes.
You need to be transparent while dealing with the following queries from prospective medical travelers.
- What will be the exact cost of the services including treatments and others?
- How will I get the best value for money?
- Which hospital/clinic offers the best quality treatments and facilities?
- How do I understand that treatments and services provided by you meet global standards?
- What are the qualifications/credentials of the physicians/hospitals/facilitators?
- Can I contact some of your previous patients?
Communication is very important to display transparency. This is the first impression to build trust and reliability in a patient. Always step into the patient’s shoes and view the situation. Nothing should be in smoke and mirrors. It would be wrong to assume that medical patients cross borders once in a lifetime to avail treatments. In many reputed hospitals, returning patients contribute handsomely to medical tourism earnings. Finally, words of mouth referrals increase if transparency in care is maintained. Transparency pays!