Medical Travel, also known as Medical Tourism, is basically the globalization of healthcare. As technology and information flows are shrinking our world, healthcare is becoming universal. This year, more than one hundred thousand people from all over the world will travel away from home seeking healthcare. Their reasons range from wanting access to higher quality and more advanced technologies (typical of patients from developing countries traveling to the U.S.), to needing quicker access (common in Europeans and Canadians), to requiring far less expensive treatments (U.S. patients going abroad). Today, this constitutes an unstoppable trend that is gaining additional acceptance as patients from all over the world find more and better options for their healthcare needs in places they never thought possible. In the case of Americans looking for high quality medical or dental care at great value, neighboring countries have shown to have private healthcare systems which exceed expectations.
Although a wide variety of treatments can be found abroad, the most common surgeries sought after are orthopedic, cardiovascular, dental care, cosmetic/plastic, and weight loss surgery. The under or uninsured American as well as those seeking elective care can benefit greatly from seeking healthcare options overseas. For example, a knee replacement which costs around $40,000 in the U.S., only costs about $12,000 in Thailand, and an abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) which can cost between $8,000 and $12,000 in the U.S., costs only around $4,200 in Mexico. Although some people may think that low prices translate to lesser quality, the truth is that patients do not have to sacrifice first-rate care in order to achieve excellent savings.
As a way of certifying quality healthcare abroad, The Joint Commission, a U.S. accreditation agency, established its counterpart, The Joint Commission International in 1999. For an international hospital to receive their Gold Seal accreditation, it must follow the same set of rigorous standards set forth in the U.S. by the Joint Commission. Up to now, more than 200 hospitals outside of the U.S. have been approved, and the number continues to increase. These JCI accredited hospitals not only offer state-of-the-art facilities, but also attract a staff of well-known, internationally trained surgeons, therefore providing an atmosphere where medical travelers are guaranteed very high standards in line with their budget.
Due to the enormous amounts of information online concerning the types of doctors and clinics abroad, patients are advised to seek the help of a Medical Travel Facilitator to assist with the details of their trip. These “health travel agents” help to make the Medical Travel process as seamless as possible. Gabriel Senior, CEO of Travel For Care in Monterrey, Mexico states “we have previously selected each and every doctor, hospital, clinic, and facility in the geography where we operate in order to create nothing but the best possible network covering a very wide spectrum of specialties and several price levels to fit your budget. This was done in months of interviewing doctors, hospital directors, visiting facilities, talking to past clients, checking records and statistics, and cross referencing and validating everything with the most reputed and knowledgeable healthcare professionals and consultants.” Patients can also count on Medical Travel Facilitators to offer better prices on hotels and airfare than they would be able to find on their own, as well as detailed resumes and descriptions of the surgeons and hospitals within their network.
As the term “Medical Travel” continues to become an accepted part of our vocabulary, countries throughout the world are trying to find ways to get a “piece of the pie”. However, in order for a Medical Travel destination to be truly successful, a few key enablers need to be in place. It is the fulfillment of these qualifications which make Monterrey, Mexico a first rate destination for Medical Tourism. To begin, Monterrey’s close proximity to the U.S. and Canada offers the advantage of less time and spending on travel and the benefit of being closer to loved ones. Once here, patients will find that Monterrey is not only a beautiful city with lots to do, but is distinguished as a top “healthcare hub”. Monterrey boasts four Joint Commission International Accredited Hospitals (the most in any Latin American city) with the Gold Seal of Approval including: Hospital San José TEC, Christus Muguerza, CIMA Santa Engracia and OCA. Healthcare professionals with world-class qualifications and experience, plus internationally-acclaimed hospitals are giving rise to the healthcare capital of Latin America.
Although the thought of heading outside of ones home country to receive a medical treatment may seem daunting, the statistics are showing that those who have taken the leap have had a very positive experience. A study done by The Medical Tourism Association found that a large majority of patients who traveled abroad for a medical procedure said they had an equal or better medical experience than in the U.S. It has been projected that as healthcare costs continue to rise above inflation, so will the number of uninsured in the U.S., and therefore a similar trend will be observed in Medical Travel. Tens of thousands of happy U.S. patients later, Americans are changing the way they see healthcare abroad.
Travel For Care is an innovative Medical Travel start-up firm headquartered in Monterrey, Mexico, marketing Medical Solutions to American patients looking for elective and non-elective procedures. For more information, please visit www.travelforcare.com