The medical travel industry is maturing. Researchers have created centers to study it, like the Center for Medical Tourism Research at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas (http://www.uistx.edu ) and doctors have created organizations to professionalize it , like the International Board of Medicine and Surgery (http://www.ibms.us ). Conferences, seminars and trade associations are sprouting up all over the world and medical travel bloggers litter the medical tourism landscape.
Despite it’s growth, I think patients are still confused about the multiple products and services that all seem to be the same. If you are considering offering medical travel benefits to your employees or are considering leaving home for care, here are three questions you should ask that might help you separate the wheat from the chaff.
Who do you get connected to?
The traditional referral model is your doctor, someone you trust, refers you to another doctor for specialty care or consultation. In most instances in medical tourism, however, a facilitator or other intermediary connects you to a hospital or ground agent partner in another country who connects you to a doctor on the medical staff of the overseas hospital. All those steps can be confusing, add middle-man costs, and create opportunities for errors.
How do you establish some kind of relationship with the consultant before leaving home?
Since it is impractical for you to see your foreign consultant preoperatively face to face, take advantage of facilitators, like Medvoy, that can help connect you to your doctor using telemedicine communications technologies.
What’s the difference between one facilitator and the other?
As the market matures, industry players are creating ways to differentiate themselves and break from the rest of the pack. In general, facilitators compete on price, access, service, experience and their product. Just as Hermes sells quality, Wal-Mart competes on price and Nordstrom’s is know for service. Decide what’s most important to you and pick a facilitator that will deliver.