Medical tourism now-a-days has spread all over the world as the need of availing medical facilities across the borders has increased significantly. With the increase in health care costs in the developed countries, the middle class society is being deprived of receiving a proper qualitative medical care. So they depend on medical tourism to avail a quality health care at a comparatively low cost than compared to the cost at their countries. As the medical tourists are not aware of the medical facilities provides overseas, they need to take expert advice or guidance so that their medical tour does not go futile and they undergo the best treatment they can afford.
What is a medical tourism facilitator?
A Medical Tourism facilitator is a company/individual which offers assistance to the medical travellers. They are also called as Medical Tourism agencies, or medical travel facilitator. The only job of the Medical Tourism facilitators is to be a complete guide for the patients. Right from deciding the date of travel till the arrival and post-surgery care, everything is taken care by the Medical Tourism facilitator. In other words, Medical Tourism facilitators act as a mediator between the patient and the hospital.
Medical Tourism facilitators unknowingly promote medical tourism in their own countries by advertising the best hospitals, surgeons and affordable price in other nations where these qualities are not available in a desired way. Medical Tourism facilitators are the first point of contact which has the ability to portray their nation’s image and the facilities available to the willing patients.
The Medical Tourism facilitators functions more or less same like the travel agencies booking travel routes, hotel rooms, transportation etc. The only difference is that the hospital and surgeons are to be decided to best suit the requirements of the patients. It is a tough job for a hospital alone to market them in international market but with the help of Medical Tourism facilitators, they not only get recognition but also generate business and prove its worth.
Medical tourism facilitator should not be confused with medical tourism agent. Medical tourism agents are the part of a company that finds and arranges an initial appointment with the doctors or the hospitals for a small amount of commission whereas a medical facilitator independently arranges and supports the patient overseas till they complete their treatment successfully.
Medical tourism facilitator support matters
Health is the most prized asset where trust and reliability of facilitators are crucial not mere lip-service. Consulting a medical tourism facilitator of course saves the time of a tourist. Before opting for a medical tour, a tourist needs to conduct a good research on the country to be visited. The details about medical care, accommodation, food, culture should be compiled so that you do not find it difficult to find a good hospital for your treatment.
However, a medical tourism facilitator helps you solve your problem and save you enough time. As the medical tourism facilitators are into medical tourism business, they have the expertise to show you the correct path to avail the best treatment.
The facilitators can easily make you aware of the destinations, Hospitals, procedures, and its available services. You can share your budget with them so they can help you find the best clinic or hospital for your treatment in your budget. They can even provide with you a comparative expenditure, quality and services offered in various hospitals in various countries. You can compare and choose the country and hospital you want to get treated.
Medical facilitators are always ready with their estimations and calculations as they have a good relationship with the clinics and the panel of doctors. The facilitators usually have a well maintained and efficient system that helps them transfer your medical details quickly to the doctor to make sure you get the correct treatment for your ailment.
The facilitators can provide you all the information you want to know about the hospital, the doctors, accommodation, food, services and so on. The medical facilitators also take care of the language barrier and make sure you communicate well with the doctor about your health issues.
Role of a Medical Tourism Facilitator
A medical tourism facilitator does more than just get patients and assist them, including performing the following roles.
Another common misconception is that medical tourism facilitators work on a commission basis and so, favor only certain hospitals and insurance agencies. This is also not true in most cases. A medical tourism facilitator does more than just get patients and assist them, including performing the following roles.
- Healthcare Identification: A medical tourism facilitator identifies the precise medical needs of the client, gets access to images and medical records to offer clear information, estimating the right price of treatment as per budget and monitoring healthcare quality right from the start to end of treatment.
- Concierge Service: These include offering free translation services at destination, personalized services as per client needs and tourism related management activities, including airplane tickets, accommodation and transport.
Tips to choose the best Medical Tourism Facilitator
Here are some tips to help you choose the best medical tourism facilitator for your needs.
- No Hidden Costs:The price offered to you by the medical tourism facilitator should be final. There should not be any unknown fees or costs you have to pay over the money you have already paid.
- Proper Licensing: The medical tourism facilitator you choose must have proper license to arrange and handle your medical trip to a foreign destination. It should have proper permissions to work in the chosen destination.
- Client Recommendations: The medical tourism facilitator you choose must be ready to provide information about previous clients and recommendations. If you don’t get the information you need, bail out.
- Proper Research: This needs to be done on your part. It is always considered wise to check about the medical tourism facilitator as well as his associations, including the medical agencies and hotels he has contact with. This would help you choose the medical tourism facilitator who would offer you the best value for money for your travel abroad.
Services medical tourism facilitators must provide for client
A medical travel facilitator company should make things considerably easy for the medical tourists. Since you, as a medical tourist, are moving out of your comfort zone, you cannot afford to make any mistakes that would create problems during your medical journey. The medical tourism facilitators play a key role in blurring the geographical borders and connecting the medical tourists with quality healthcare providers from different parts of the world.
Let us discuss the key things a facilitator can do for the potential medical tourists.
One stop solution:
Since facilitators have a clear understanding of all the important things associated with the medical tourism sector, they can offer all-inclusive support services, which could include pre-travel arrangements, medical arrangements, concierge services and healthy communication between the medical tourist and the treating facility.
A good facilitator with industry experience can provide comprehensive relationship management in case the patient needs to communicate with insurance companies, governments or their employer bodies that sponsor medical tourism activities. The basic idea is to build a comprehensive support system for the potential medical tourists.
The medical tourism facilitators are expert in their field and are familiar with all the ways of handling different situations that may arise during medical travel. Except the medical service itself, they are efficient in providing all necessary help to the internationally traveling patients. A facilitator can provide the patients with information on the healthcare providers, treating physician or surgeon, local attractions, and the infrastructure.
Negotiations can play a major role in bringing down the costs of your medical journey. An expert facilitator will negotiate better on your behalf, and therefore might be able to reduce the costs where possible. Since a patient might not be able to understand additional expenses charged by a treating facility abroad, it is always better to seek the services of an experienced medical tourism facilitator who will guide you along the complex medical tourism process.
Travel and logistics partner:
Making travel arrangements can be challenging task for a first-time medical tourist. A good medical travel facilitator can take care of all your travel and logistics requirements. A facilitator understands the exact needs of the patients and can make arrangements accordingly.
The medical tourism facilitator could also function as a formal representative on your behalf to communicate with your family and friends in your home country about your medical condition and other important things your family members or friends should know.
A well-established medical tourism facilitator is aware of the laws of the land and should guide you in treatment procedures based on that. It should also provide you the necessary legal support available in a particular destination as and when required.
Continuity of care:
Post-operative care is extremely important for a speedy recovery. A medical tourism facilitator ensures that your medical provider has prepared sufficient arrangements for your post-operative care. The continuity of care is of utmost importance for the patients.
Is it safe to seek guidance for medical tourism through facilitators
A facilitator is familiar with the medical tourism industry and the process that a patient has to follow. A facilitator takes care of the travel arrangements, accommodation, medical services, pre- and post-operative care, tourism activities and many other facets. These professionals have a strong network of hospitals and physicians around the world that they represent. Despite this, you need to check the pros and cons of seeking guidance through facilitators.
Help you with the wealth of information that is not always in your purview
Since they are so well connected with the tourism and medical sector, they would be the ideal people to seek help from. Facilitators can provide you with a wealth of information and options to choose the best course of treatment suitable to your specific needs as a patient.
Provide safety guidelines
A good medical travel facilitator will ensure patient safety guidelines by informing you of the agencies that provide the highest quality in hospitals, skilled staff and experienced doctors. Due to their vast experience in the field of medical tourism they can help make you aware of any potential difficulties you may experience during a medical tour.
Efficiently address your doubts and concers
As a patient you will inevitably have concerns and doubts prior to engaging in medical travel. A facilitator will clear all your doubts by arranging pre- and post-operative consultations with leading surgeons and doctors affiliated with them. You may not be familiar with the procedures of documentation and permits required for medical travel; however it will be the responsibility of any medical intermediary you enlist to provide assistance in making arrangements for transportation, accommodation and post operative care too.
Provide communication support in an unknown land
While travelling to a new country you may not understand the local language or be accustomed with the rules and regulations of that place; a good facilitator will provide guidance or a representative at the local destination who speaks your language and can explain these cultural differences. This will ensure that you receive the desired treatment in the most efficient and effective manner.
You get many choice options
One of the major benefits of hiring a medical tourism facilitator is that you get to choose from a range of options and select the best course of treatment that suits your specific needs. A facilitator is of great help, especially for the first-time medical tourists, who will obviously have a lot of questions and concerns regarding their travel arrangements and treatment overseas.
While using a medical tourism facilitator has a number of advantages, you should also take note of the disadvantages of working with a facilitator.
They may be involved in promotion of selected facilities for vested interests
Do not rely completely on the information the facilitators provide. It would not be wrong to say that most facilitators clearly do not have the time and resources to have complete information about every medical destination. Therefore, they may be inclined to promote every place as the best one.
In some cases, medical tour facilitators may recommend a particular institution or physician because they receive a commission, service charge or both from the hospital or doctor in question. Having an intermediary liaise between the patient and doctor can lead to serious confusion or miscommunication.
Faulty service contracts
A medical tourist should always get all the terms in writing and crosscheck them for errors, so that you do not have to face any stressful situations during your medical trip owing to miscommunication. A medical tourist should ask several questions from the facilitator, not only to clear your doubts, but also to have a clear idea about the facilitator’s experience and any commission-based contract they may have with the hospitals in medical tourism destinations. Always bear in mind that it is not difficult for a facilitator to mislead patients and make good money by recommending some specific hospitals that give them great commissions.
Lack in experience and expertise
Having a fancy website does not indicate their experience or skill in the industry. It is better to source the necessary information from someone who has been on a similar medical tour. For this you can always read patient reviews and testimonials on different websites and online forums.