Many peoples’ first thought when they think of health or medical tourism is “scary”, and while some medical destinations may be out of some peoples’ comfort zones the one common post-trip comment tends to be, “I wish I hadn’t waited so long!”
There are three reasons that I can think of for people delaying a knee replacement surgery, hip replacement surgery, or other orthopedic procedure – sometimes 4 years or more and they are financial, awareness of health tourism options, and fear of the destination or unknown.
In terms of finances, orthopedic procedures like knee or hip replacement surgery can be up to 80% less than the cost of the procedure in the U.S. (and that includes travel and accommodation), and yet they’re still not dirt cheap. That said you need balance the cost of the procedure against the quality of your life. Is your pain preventing you from enjoying the things that are important to you, like golf, spending time with children or grandchildren? There are ways to fund a medical trip, and if your destination of choice is New Zealand then MyMedicalLoans.com is one of those financial aid organizations.
Health tourism awareness is slowly being remedied, with publications and resource sites cropping up regularly. And of course with Google indexing the universe, a good search on procedures and medical or health tourism options should provide you with enough information to keep you busy.
In terms of fear, well there are definitely some destinations that could be a shock culturally speaking. Hip or knee replacement surgery and other orthopedic procedures are scary enough at home, let along halfway around the world in a country so different from your own. There are several tips to finding the right health tourism destination and making the process smooth and less scary.
Research and select an appropriate destination
If you’re considering health tourism, you’ll want to spend some time researching what country you should visit. Depending on the orthopedic procedure you’re having done, you could be in that country for 3 weeks – potentially longer – undergoing rehabilitation, so you’ll want to be sure you’re comfortable and safe. Consider other factors, such as customs, the language they speak, hygienic practices, ease of transportation, and even something as simple as the food they eat.
Get patient testimonials
When you select your destination and facility, be sure to insist on previous patient testimonials. If you can, even ask to speak in person to a patient to really understand the experience they had. These people are the ones that will tell you exactly what the process was like – they aren’t getting paid!
Select a facilitator or coordinator you can trust
Most health tourism organizations will assign one person to help you with the process. This coordinator will ensure you get a visa, airline tickets and transfers, help arrange accommodations after your surgery, and help schedule all the visits needed along the way. The more comfortable you are with this person, and the more you can trust your medical coordinator, the easier the whole experience will be.
Take someone with you
As I mentioned earlier, you probably will be in your host country for several weeks, so having a companion along with you is a great way to feel better faster. Surgery is never fun, so having a travel companion can make is easier to deal with.