An extensive two-year UK study on medical tourism has revealed some alarming information. The study reports that most individuals opting for medical tourism do so without having a proper knowledge of the health and financial risks involved in the process. The study was undertaken by a group from the University of New York and was supported by other prominent bodies like The Royal Holloway University, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, University of Birmingham and the Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.
Funded by the National Institute of Health Research, the study pointed out the impacts on the NHS of medical patients from the UK traveling abroad for medical procedures like dentistry, fertility services, bariatric surgery and cosmetic surgery etc. Given below are the main points that were highlighted in the 262-page report.
Lack of Proper Information
The study pointed out that most medical tourists do not get proper information about the risks associated with medical tourism before embarking on their journey. Not many are even aware of the various complications they might face while undergoing treatment in these countries. The information as such is also poorly packaged so that a prospective medical tourist has little or no idea of how to handle an unforeseen emergency in the foreign land.
The team behind the study suggest that measures be taken to make travelers fully aware of details like the current NHS commissioning rules and eligibility criteria and any costs which patients might have to handle themselves (for ex: costs related to non-emergency care arising from poor outcomes of a treatment received abroad).
Lack of Proper Data
The study has openly criticized the data that has been collected on medical tourism so far, citing it to be biased and delivered by stakeholders who wish to gain monetarily by boosting the medical tourism industry.
This lack of reliable data would in turn lead to false hopes and promises, which go undelivered at the end of the day, therefore landing the patient in jeopardy. For instance, a publication by Deloitte indicated that nearly 6 million Americans would travel abroad for medical treatments by 2010 although there was not proof to support the data as well as no hints to know where the data was collected.
Misleading Medical Tourism Websites
The study also raised doubts about the authenticity of the information available on medical tourism websites. The team indicates that most of these websites do not actually clarify whether the treatment options would be safe, effective and personalized. The potential risks of various treatments are also not detailed clearly, thereby creating an imbalance of related information and marketing materials.
A study published recently on Medical Tourism by the University of New York indicated that while a lot is being said and written about the medical tourism industry, there remains very less information related to the potential risks involved in medical traveling overseas. The study indicated that patients are not being provided detailed and accurate information, while stakeholders and medical tourism websites promote the industry with figures that are never proved to be true while conveniently hiding the risks involved.