Hard Work, But The Rewards Are High

The attraction of international clients for doctors is a quite different proposition today compared to let’s say 20 years or more ago. It might seem that I am trawling a long way into the past to make the comparison, but in fact the history of international patient flow into the UK and London in particular is relevant. Harley Street was for many years a mecca on the international medical tourism trail. The quality of care was perceived to be of the highest and we welcomed our visitors with open arms. This was at a time of a growing independent healthcare market and was definitely a factor in attracting doctors to devote some or all of their practice to the private sector. It was a catalyst for the growth of the sector.

Changing Times For The UK

But times change. Where at one time the UK would have been the destination of choice, other prime international medical capitals emerged to compete for this lucrative market. The success for a consultant rested on a number of factors, not the least of which was the quality of care that they provided and the successful patient outcome.

But as competition increased, the offering became a combination of the provider facilities, i.e. the hospital or clinic, the concierge offering and the all-important price. Foreign purchaser pressure required a concerted effort to impress with the overall package of care for the patient and their family and the value for money. Consultants regularly visited other countries to meet and greet, lecture, see patients in clinics and operate. Many patients were recruited to visit the UK through this process. So essentially it was hard work, but the rewards were high.

Payment Terms Risk

The biggest downside that emerged and remains a major hurdle are payment terms. It is common practice to wait months for payment if not years, where patients are government sponsored. Not only is this a significant cash flow issue but takes an inordinate amount of effort and time. It is a major consideration regarding the management of embassy patients. But this is only one payer group and many others are more than acceptable.

Broadening The Market

An international patient workload covers a multitude of conditions. While surgical interventions might commonly be the obvious one, there are many other planned and unplanned care needs. The management of chronic conditions such as patients requiring dialysis or medication management is not uncommon.

There is an equally large need for primary care for travellers, often requested via hotel concierges, and many hotels have agreements with primary care doctors to visit guests with urgent or unspecified medical support.

The UK has provided many ‘super specialist’ services for international patients that has been instrumental in achieving its current excellent reputation. Both doctors and hospitals have capitalised on some of the specific needs that are required. A prime example would be complex rehabilitation services that are not available, particularly in Middle Eastern countries. Such services require a high level of organisation, not only for the patient but for families, and many of the UK’s independent specialist doctors have become key in this patient flow.

As doctors consider their options in developing a private practice it is less likely today that they would factor the international patient workload as being the key to a thriving practice. They will work collaboratively with providers or embassies to be a part of a significant package of care.   Where a provider has developed a salaried model of employment, it is quite possible that an international patient workload will form a significant part of their patient workload and indeed enable continuity of care which can often be missing when dealing with sporadic and individual cases. It is also worth noting that the international workload often provides challenging and unusual pathology that doctors welcome the opportunity to treat.

The skill and expertise of the doctor is key to attracting patients to the UK and was the genesis of the market. Continued growth requires teamwork and a focus on providing excellent patient care with demonstrable outstanding outcomes to ensure the continuation of patient flow from international markets.

This article first appeared in the leading UK healthcare industry journal, Healthcare Markets.

Author : Sue Smith, CEO of the Independent Doctors Federation looks at the ups and downs of building and maintaining an international private patient business in the UK.

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What Does Cryptocurrency Mean for Medical Tourism?

Since entering mainstream use, travelers and tourists have been using cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin as a form of payment for flights, hotel reservations, transportation, and more. As this technology develops, it is not only pleasure trips benefiting from the rise of Bitcoin – medical tourism has seen a sharp uptick in the utilization of cryptocurrency as well.

Cryptocurrencies, the most famous example of which is Bitcoin, are digital currencies that operate independently of a central financial institution and use encryption methods to regulate the generation of currency units and confirm the transfer of funds between users. Cryptocurrency has now entered the medical tourism industry with a growing proportion of medical tourists, mostly in the United States, Canada, and some parts of Europe, adopting blockchain technology – a ledger that verifies the transfer of currency publicly – and accepting Bitcoin as a form of payment.

“The protected nature of blockchains has the potential to be a superior way to access healthcare throughout the world,” said Peter Sasaki, a managing member of CGS Associates and an expert in cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. “It’s not just about the price and potential appreciation of a cryptocurrency. It’s more about the security available because of blockchains.”

In addition to medical institutions accepting Bitcoin as a form of payment, individual medical providers have also embraced cryptocurrency. Doctor Edward Domanskis, a board-certified plastic surgeon, has been accepting Bitcoin from his patients at his medical practices in Neszport Beach, San Francisco, Miami, and Anguilla.

“Bitcoin works for my practice, as [it allows] regular patients to pay for services. I like to be at the forefront of new technologies and developments,” said Dr. Domanskis.

Columbus Medical Center, located in Columbus, Georgia, began accepting Bitcoin in September 2017. The institution’s lead physician, Dr. Eric Codner, said in the announcement “Using Bitcoin for your purchases returns power to the consumer by allowing payment through a decentralized currency that cannot be manipulated by any bank or government.”

London-based Vinci Hair Clinic also began accepting cryptocurrency in December 2016. “We started to take Bitcoin seriously in November when we got inundated with requests to pay in [Bitcoin],” said the managing director of the hair clinic, Salvar Bjornsson, in a press release.

In one instance, Vinci Hair Clinic performed a hair transplant for a 32-year old male patient from the Middle East. The patient made his payments in Bitcoin worth $6,000 at that time. The clinic said it immediately converted the Bitcoin to the British Pound (GBP).

The customer’s demand to pay with Bitcoin was not the only reason the hair clinic decided to accept Bitcoin, however. Ken Fryer, the clinic’s spokesperson, said taking payment in Bitcoin solved many of the problems associated with international transactions.

“We have had customers who faced problems with fund transfers due to currency and banking restrictions. We have had to cancel surgeries because clients were not able to transfer funds to the UK in time.” Fryer said.

Northorthopaedics, a Lithuanian clinic focused on providing orthopedic care for international patients also began accepting Bitcoin as a form of payment a few years ago. The clinic cited that payment through Bitcoin is not only fast, but comes with minimal charges as well.

Virtual medical platforms like online consulting services have also joined in accepting cryptocurrency as a form of payment. Ask the Doctor, for example, an online telemedicine platform, began receiving payments in Bitcoin in October 2016.

Additionally, some internet medical startups such as CoinMD and Patientory use cryptocurrency and blockchain technology to provide patients with their own secure and individualized medical data while connecting them with low-cost medical experts from across the world. In this manner, these innovative platforms make healthcare affordable for patients across the world while keeping their medical records safe and secure.

In addition to the convenience and security, the use of cryptocurrency also lowers the cost of accessing quality healthcare across the globe by eliminating currency exchange rates between countries, contributing to overall increases in healthcare costs, particularly for medical tourists from less developed countries.

Medical tourists are likely to continue to utilize cryptocurrency and blockchain technology to send payments because of the ease, confidentiality, and borderless nature of the emerging technology.

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10 Essential Factors to Choose Your Hospital in India

On September 2015, James Kariuki had a massive heart attack. It was crucial for him to have a bypass surgery and so he travelled to India from Nairobi, Kenya. By October end, his bypass surgery was successful and he was, thus, cured.

But choosing a hospital has not been easy for Kariuki and neither is it for anyone travelling from abroad to India for their treatment. It is obvious that India provides quality medical treatment at affordable rates but there are some factors which the patients should consider while travelling for their treatment.

Hospital Review

It is mandatory to go through several hospital reviews while taking a decision as to in which hospital you want to treat yourself or your loved ones in India. It is because through the reviews you can actually compare which hospital is better and which is not. That makes it easy for you to choose. You can go for Google reviews and also keep an eye on Google news to know which hospital is best for you.

Doctors

The most important thing that you have to consider while selecting a hospital is to check the specialization, qualification and experience of the doctors working in those hospitals.  When you are travelling from one place to another to subsequently recover from an illness, then you will have to be sure that the one who will be treating you is trustworthy. For this reason you will have to be well-informed about your doctor. It is, therefore, necessary to go through the doctor’s profiles and reviews.

Location

The other important thing that you should keep in mind is the proximity of the hospital from the international airport. It is because during emergencies, transportation of the patient has to be quick and comfortable. It is always a better option if the hospital is within your city or near the place where you are accommodated, especially at a close proximity to the international airport of that city.

Infrastructure

The infrastructure of the hospital is also very important. You wouldn’t want to treat yourself in a hospital that is unhygienic and lacks the newest medical technologies and instruments. The rooms, the hygiene, the beds and the newest technologies that are adopted by the hospital, the number of emergency units and ICU beds should be taken into consideration. Furthermore, you should also see if there is the availability of 24/7 pharmacies within or near the hospital.  Also check the availability of WIFI in the hospitals so that the patient as well as his / her attendant can communicate with their family and friends peacefully.

Treatment

While selecting a hospital, always go through the list of treatments that the hospitals provide to their patients. Also check how advanced they are in the specific treatments and the medical instruments and machines that are used for it. Look for accreditations of the hospital and check whether it is a multispecialty hospital that incorporates primary, secondary and tertiary care.

Access to Blood Banks

Having an access to the blood bank is one of the most essential things that every hospital should have. Even if the surgery is successful, due to excessive blood loss, a life may be lost. So, while selecting a hospital, check whether they have access to blood banks.

Medical Insurance

Before travelling from one place to another for medical treatment, it is very important to go through the medical insurance policies and the hospitals that come under them. Go through your medical insurance policies thoroughly to check the facilities that will be provided and the hospitals and the ailments that are covered under them.

Amenities

One of the most important things that you have to keep in mind while you are travelling to India or, in that case, anywhere in the world, is the easy availability of hotels, food and transport. Look for residential options and guest houses or rented accommodations near the hospital where you can stay and commute easily. That way your transport costs can be curbed and there will be no security or transport issues. If you don’t get an accommodation near the hospital, then book cabs to travel. Ola app or Uber app can be very helpful in these cases. You just have to download the app in your phone and use it. Furthermore, you should also check the availability of ATMs and money transfer facilities like Western Union and Money Gram in the vicinity of the airport or the hospital or where you are accommodated.

Interpreter

Though the Indian doctors don’t have any problem in communicating in English, interpreters are available at hospitals. Hence, if you face any problem to communicate, check whether the hospital provides an interpreter.

Airline Facilities

Check the airline facilities while you plan to come to India for your medical treatment. Enquire with the airport help desk of whether they provide wheelchairs and stretchers for the patients. You should also get a know-how of whether there are doctors and paramedics available in the airport. While travelling by air you should also check the flight connectivity as it can be difficult for the patients with chronic ailments to travel by air.

These ten factors not only tell you what to do while choosing a hospital but also guide you how to make the correct choice. So, if you keep them in mind, then choosing the right hospital won’t be a problem.

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Insurers Changing the Game in Medical Tourism

Due to the availability of high-quality alternative healthcare abroad at affordable and highly competitive rates, there is a growing demand for healthcare across borders and employers, as well as insurers, are cashing in on this trend in a bid to save cost.

Employees have realized that seeking healthcare services abroad is more cost-effective than seeking same services at home. This is such that even after factoring in travel expenses, accommodation, and sick days off work, patients still get to save more money.

For example, a hip replacement surgery which would cost $75,000 in the US costs $9,000 in India. These financial benefits, according to Patients Beyond Borders, is responsible for the massive drift of Americans to other countries such as Singapore, Thailand, and Turkey to receive healthcare.

Medical travel, which hitherto was the territory of uninsured and under-insured patients, is now being considered by leading insurance companies including Aetna and CIGNA.

Health insurance companies over the world have begun to dive into the medical tourism industry experimenting with cross-border and international medical coverage. The idea of such plans is that insured persons can visit another country to receive specific medical care in a clinic provided in the insurance policy and have the medical expenses reimbursed entirely or partially by the insurance provider. Such programs give patients confidence about the quality of care in the destination country.

Insurance companies use a portion of the substantial savings made from such programs to provide incentives to patients who wish to seek medical care abroad. Some of these incentives include waiving the deductible and out-of-pocket health expenses and covering travel expenses for the patient and a travel companion. Many of these insurance policies have begun to incorporate collaborations with physicians in other parts of the world.

Employers are not left out in the current trend as several Fortune 500 companies, in a bid to cut down on employee healthcare cost, outsource expensive medical procedures to healthcare providers abroad.

One major factor contributing to this paradigm shift is the increasing number of South East Asian and European healthcare facilities that meet the healthcare standards of developed countries such as the United States and Canada.

The standard policies offered by medical tourism companies generally covers healthcare complications, medical evacuation, trip cancellation, acute illnesses, and injuries which may arise during the health travel for the patient and travel companion. However, the packages and coverage limits depend on the policy offered by each insurance company.

The four major insurers in the United States: Aetna, UnitedHealth, WellPoint, and Humana are already taking steps to expand their coverage to include international plans on the basis of affordability of healthcare in foreign countries.

BlueCross BlueShield, an insurance company based in South Carolina, has partnered with health providers in Thailand, Turkey, Singapore, Turkey, and Costa Rica to create low-premium, high-deductible insurance plans, targeted at lower-wage workers who are concerned about saving cost.

Aetna, the largest for-profit healthcare management company in the United States, made collaborations with Apollo hospital, India to create an insurance plan for Americans to receive healthcare treatment at the hospital.

This insurance coverage by Aetna sends employees of Serigraph Inc., a client of Athena WellPoint, to Apollo Hospital for specific routine procedures. The program is scheduled to begin with Apollo Hospitals in Delhi and Bangalore, then to its JCI-approved clinics. Under this insurance plan, all expenses accrued by the patients, including travel and accommodation, will be reimbursed by Athena Wellpoint.

UnitedHealth Group developed a similar program that sees over 200,000 Americans covered through fully-insured, and self-funded health plans travel to Bumrungrad International Hospitals in Thailand and Apollo Hospitals in India.

Blue Shield and Health Net in California also created an insurance program which covers healthcare in Mexican hospitals for US employers who hire a large number of Mexican employees. This program includes over 20,000 patients.

In addition, Blue Cross Blue Shield provides insurance policies to enable and encourage people to travel abroad for low-cost medical procedures that are expensive in their home countries. The healthcare management company has made collaborations with Bumrungrad International Hospitals to provide coverage for medical procedures organized through insurance company Companion Global. The program also covers two follow-up visits with doctors at Doctor Care.

In Europe, this trend has also been making a significant impact on the health tourism market in the continent. Currently, in Ukraine, the European Insurance Alliance offers a program where its insured patient can undergo a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation and treatment in Israel under either the standard package or the VIP package.

In addition, the Ukrainian government has set up legislation to boost medical tourism in Ukraine today. The law notes that travel insurance, consisting of medical and accident insurance, is mandatory and should be carried out on the basis of an agreement between the subjects of such travel activities and their insurers.

In this case, there should be an insurance contract which must be presented to the travel agent before departure. The insurance contract, as stated by the law, shall provide medical care to tourists and reimbursements of the expenses accrued during the period of stay in the country.

One interesting response to this trend in medical tourism is that healthcare facilities in the US, for example, has begun accepting referrals from health travel agencies, providing discounted services to American and non-American patients.

This push in healthcare tourism has a significant impact on healthcare in participating countries. In countries where patients experience long waits before undergoing a medical procedure or treatment, medical tourism offers an initiative to clear such backlogs by referring their patients to international healthcare providers. This is the case with the British National Health Service which refers patients for elective medical procedures to neighboring countries.

This disruption by health insurance companies in the medical tourism industry is taking a rapid turn as technology advances. Digitization has eased payment models and customer care services, allowing for information transparency which drives patients to determine where and how they receive health care.

With over 14 million patients traveling for healthcare yearly, medical tourism is still regarded as a growing industry. However, as advances in technology, as well as better collaborations from insurance companies, persist in global healthcare, medical tourism would grow into a borderless industry.

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7 Reasons Why You Should Opt for a Medical Travel Consultant

Travelling needs a lot of planning, especially when you are travelling to another country for your medical treatment. It does not limit to entertainment anymore but verges onto something serious as it dominantly involves your health. After several planning and research, you would also require an assurance of someone reliable who will tell you which doctors and hospitals are right for you. It is at this point that a medical travel consultant comes handy. Here are the reasons why:

All in One

Imagine you get all the information about the doctors and hospitals you are looking for abroad under one forum. This is what your medical travel consultant provides you. On the website or while discussions you can compare and choose the doctor and the hospital according to your preferences, share your medical records online which are later send to different doctors for assessment. A medical travel consultant is well aware of the strengths of hospital and doctors in their respective domains. They assist you best in finding them.

Savings

Whenever you have to go through a medical treatment, the first thing that bothers you is its cost. By travelling through a professional medical travel facilitator you will not only get the best price but also get a lot of services that make your entire experience comfortable, at no extra cost

Doctor Consultation

Your medical travel consultant will also help you to connect with several doctors. If you think that having a telephonic conversation with the doctor can help you understand your ailment better, then your facilitator will connect you to the specified doctor. During the treatment abroad if you like to go for Second Opinion or change the hospital. In that case the medical facilitators’ network comes handy.

No More Waiting and Long Queues

Your appointment with the doctor is pre-scheduled. As soon as you arrive your treatment procedure will start without any delay.  Your facilitator takes care of it.

Travel Made Easy

From the processing of visa to travelling by air to discounted hotel accommodation and food, your medical travel consultant is going to take care of every travel nuance that you would have to worry about previously. They even look after your transport facilities within the city and guide you accordingly with all the tips and tricks. If you require any further assistance then your Case Manager is just a call away.

Financial Assistance

In case you have a deficiency in your finances, then your medical travel consultant will assist you in the money transfer from your country through various available channels.

Friendly Environment

Apart from smooth medical facilities, under the care of a medical travel consultant you are also going to enjoy a friendly and amiable environment in an unknown country.  Just because they are medical travel consultants doesn’t mean that they will only guide you for your treatment. They also help you to go for sightseeing and shopping and provide you with enough tips and tricks so that you can go about the city at ease.

So, whenever you are travelling abroad for your treatment, make sure that you contact your medical travel consultant. It is a necessary option that will help you to travel comfortably and have your treatment done from a reliable health care centre.

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Here are 7 Things Which You Have to Check While Choosing the Right Doctor

Doctors are the ones who are responsible to provide us with the right treatment so that we get cured completely and fast. As choosing the right doctor can be difficult you should do some prior research about him/her. These are the factors that you should look for while you go through a doctor’s profile so that you make the right choice.

Education

It is inevitable that every doctor is educated. By the word ‘education’ what we mean is his/her expertise, alma mater and the degrees he/she has acquired during his/her practice in medical schools and colleges. The more qualified a doctor, the more is his expertise in his specialization. Here are some common medical degrees that a doctor has:

  • MBBS: MBBS stands for Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery. The degree is awarded to students who have graduated from medical schools or universities to enter the profession of a doctor.
  • MD: Stands for Doctor of Medicine. It is one of the two doctoral degrees acquired by physicians.
  • M.Ch: In Latin, the full form of M.Ch is Magister Chirurgiae which stands for Master of Surgery. The degree is bestowed on those who have acquired an advanced qualification in surgery.
  • D.M: D.M is the degree that is acquired when the doctor goes for some specialization in medicine after earning M.D.
  • M.S: Surgeons who after acquiring M.Ch goes for higher studies in surgery and surgical procedures earn the degree of M.S.

Specialization

While choosing a doctor, you should check his/her specialization. This bit of information lets you know which doctor you should consult for your ailment. Whether your medical condition falls under his/her specialization at all. Also by knowing the doctor’s specialization you come to know about the array of treatments he/she provides.

Years of Experience

While looking for a doctor, the years of his/her experience should be taken into account. Since, over the years, he or she has treated several patients, as an experienced doctor he/she is able to provide you a more comprehensive diagnosis and treatment than the one without.

Hospital where he has worked

While you check the experience of the doctors, also check in which hospitals he/she has worked other than the one he/she is working at present. Check the profiles of the hospitals as well as the designation he had.

The reputation of the hospital, be it a multispecialty, super specialty or tertiary hospital is important because of its infrastructure and patient care facilities. Search over the internet about the past hospitals he has worked in and go through them to get an idea about the hospital and what people are saying about them. You can also go through the media coverages of the hospitals and the doctor to know about the facilities, treatments and both of their reputation in the medical world.

Patient feedback

If you are skeptical about a doctor’s capability to treat you or cannot trust him/her even though he is experienced and qualified then the best thing you can do is to read or hear what his/her previous patients have to say about him. Patient feedback or testimonials not only give you an insight on his treatment procedures but also lets you know about his diagnosis.

Papers published

Well experienced, qualified and skilled doctors continue their research even after they start working as professional surgeons and specialists. So, till now if you thought medical journals were too heavy to go through, then you should rethink. It is because to choose your doctor wisely, you should know what he or she has researched upon and written on till now. This gives you a vivid idea about his expertise in his field reassuring you to trust the doctor.

Doctor’s Team

If you are going for any surgical treatment, then it is best to go through not only the profile of the surgeon but also his or her team. As surgery is a collective medical treatment, it is necessary to cross check the qualifications, experience and expertise of the doctors in his or her team as well.

References

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8 Valuable Tips to Choose a Good Medical Travel Facilitator

Medical travel facilitators are of great help when you are travelling abroad for your treatment. But it is up to you to choose the right facilitator. For that you cannot just rely on any medical travel facilitator and would need someone who is the best in this field. We, therefore, provide you with these eight tips that are going to help you to choose a good medical facilitator for your treatment.

Check their website 

Go through the website of the medical travel facilitators while you are looking for one. That way you can get a detailed insight about their company and what they do. Check the various specific ailments and their medical treatment descriptions in it.

Certification is Reliable

While you are planning to contact them for your tour, make sure that they are certified or registered consultants or facilitators. Verify whether they are ISO certified.

Patients’ testimonials 

Look for patients’ testimonials in the medical travel facilitators’ websites. Patients’ testimonials are a proof of the services that they provide. It also validates how good they are in it and what are the cases that they have handled.

Service Fee

Medical travel facilitators do not charge their clients any money for their services. Even if they do so they mention about the extra charges clearly on their website. So, you should also confirm that they do not charge you anything extra other than informing you about the cost of your treatment and accommodation in their country.

Networks and Connections

A good medical facilitator will have connections with the best doctors and hospitals of their country. Look up in their websites to see which hospitals and doctors they have contacts with. Also check the qualification and experience of the doctors and see whether the hospitals are well accredited. Ask them which state or city of the country has the best doctor and hospital to treat your ailment and how can they make you contact the doctor if you were required to speak to him or her.

Experience of the Facilitator

The professional experience of the medical travel facilitator is a must. So, while you look for a favorable medical travel consultant check for how long they are there in this field and how adept they are in their work.

Compare and Choose

The best advantage that you get with a medical travel assistant is that you can compare and choose the best hospitals and doctors for your treatment. There are lists of innumerable qualified and experienced doctors and well certfied hospitals in their websites. This not only increases your chances to get the best treatment but also within the most reasonable budget.

Further Assistance

When you are contacting a medical travel facilitator, you should ask about the other services that they provide. Always put forward your queries and ask questions about the extra services that they are going to provide to you.

If you follow these eight tips while you look for your medical travel facilitator, you will not face any problem in choosing the right one.

References

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Things to Remember Before You Start Your Medical Trip to India

Travelling to another country for a medical treatment requires a number of documentations that include certificates, medical reports, permits and other nuances. Apart from the standard requirement for documentation like the visa application form, passport, doctor’s certificate, medical invitation letter and reports, there are certain other formalities that are required to be fulfilled. This document will help you out in proceeding with such official nuances so that you get a smooth medical travel to India.

Fit to Fly

A fit to fly certificate of the patient is demanded by all the airlines to certify that the patient’s health condition is stable enough to fly from one country to another within the stipulated span of hours without any deterioration in his / her condition mid-air. Only the applicants who have applied for a medical visa require a fit to fly certificate during their travel.

Some airlines demand it in the form of a letter from the doctor of the patient in which the current health condition of the patient is mentioned and a permission to fly back to his / her own country is sanctioned, whereas, some other airlines constitute of a stringent procedure in which the patient is provided with an official form known as the Medical Clearance Form that is to be filled by the doctor concerned and the patient himself.

A fit to fly certificate will be required for both boarding the flight from the patient’s home country as well as during departure from India after treatment. Patients and their medical attendants will not be allowed to board the flight if they cannot produce the certificate.

Therefore, it is a necessary document which you should remember to produce during your medical travel.

Airlines that we know provide their own Medical Clearance Form



Name of Airline Name of Airline
Ethiopian Airways Singapore Airlines
Emirates Etihad Airways
Fiji Airways Lufthansa
China Airlines Swiss International Airlines
Qatar Airways Austrian Airlines
Air New Zealand Kenya Airways
Virginia Australia Etihad Airways
Cathay Pacific Air Arabia

*Irrespective of the above list it is always advisable that you check with the airline you are opting to fly in during your travel.

Constituents of the Medical Clearance Form

You and your doctor will have to fill up the following credentials in the form:

  • Your name, gender, age, flight pnr no, requirement of wheelchair or stretcher, weight.
  • The name, contact number, hospital clinic affiliation of the doctor concerned.
  • Your diagnosis in details, date on which diagnosed, symptoms and date of surgery / operation.
  • Results of the medical reports.
  • Doctor should tick on fit to fly option in the form.
  • Please specify whether the patient has any contagious or communicable disease.
  • Specify if the medical condition of the patient is going to affect the fellow passengers.
  • Additional clinical information regarding the patient: anemia, psychiatric and seizure disorder, cardiac condition, normal bladder and bowel control, respiratory condition.
  • Whether the patient can sit upright without anyone’s assistance in the normal aircraft seat, walk without assistance.
  • Whether the patient can understand and respond to the instructions of the cabin crew.
  • Whether the patient can take care of his/her needs on board without anyone assistance.
  • Requirement of an escort.
  • Type of escort required: travel companion / nurse / doctor / nurse and doctor both.
  • Requirement of oxygen: period of usage, flow rate of oxygen, continuous or not, estimated amount of oxygen, need of any oxygen devices.
  • Need of any medication: is the medication to be administered by the patient himself or by his escort?
  • Does the patient require hospitalization during transfer of flights?
  • Does the patient require hospitalization on arrival?
  • In case of pregnancy: number of weeks and days, EDD, gestation.
  • Specify if any other arrangements are to be made.
  • Enter date, place and attending physician’s signature and passenger’s signature.

Vaccination Certificates

It is said that when one travels he gathers a lot from the experience and leaves behind something as one start for home. But the world does not only constitute of all things wonderful but also dreadful, for instance, viral diseases like yellow fever and polio whose contagious factor has to be kept in check. Therefore, while you are preparing for your journey to India for a medical travel it is important that you remember to keep yellow fever vaccination certificates and oral polio vaccination certificates with you. Although, not every country member require such documentation, depending on the intensity of the disease in some countries the two certificates (yellow fever vaccination certificate and oral polio vaccination certificate) are a mandatory document to be produced during check in at the airport.

Countries that require Oral Polio Vaccination Certificate are: Afghanistan, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Kenya, Somalia and Syria.

It is to be noted that the Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificates should be sanctioned 10 days before travel. The list of countries that require Yellow Fever Vaccination certificates are provided below:



Name of Country Name of Country
Angola Ghana
Argentina Guinea
Benin Guinea – Bissau
Bolivia Guyana
Brazil Kenya
Burkina Faso Liberia
Burundi Mali
Cameroon Mauritania
Central African Republic Niger
Chad Nigeria
Colombia Rwanda
Congo Senegal
Cote D’Ivoire Sierra Leone
Democratic Republic of Congo Sudan
Equador South Sudan
Equatorial Guinea Togo
Ethiopia Uganda
French Guiana Panama
Gabon Paraguay
Gambia Peru
Suriname Trinidad and Tobago
Venezuela

Currencies Accepted in India

Another important factor that medical travellers need to keep in mind is the currency and the amount of money in that currency that they have to carry while they are coming to India for their treatment. The maximum limit for an individual to carry cash while coming to India is USD 5000 or its equivalent, exceeding which one has to declare it in the Currency Declaration Form at the Customs Authorities in the airport.

Here is a list of currencies that are accepted in India and for which a currency exchange is available:



Name of Currency Name of Currency
US Dollar New Zealand Dollar
Euro South African Rand
Sterling Pound Saudi Rial
Thai Baht Qatar Rial
Singapore Dollar Omani Rial
Canadian Dollar Norwegian Kroner
UAE Dirham Swedish Kroner
Malaysian Ringgit Danish Kroner
Swiss Franc Jordan Dinar
Australian Dollar Bahrain Dinar
Hong Kong Dollar Kuwait Dinar
Japanese Yen Egyptian Pound
Chinese Yuan Syrian Pound

Other things to remember

  • During immigration, you may be asked to provide the address of the accommodation you will be staying in, in India. Therefore, it is advisable to note down the address of the hotel / guesthouse / service apartment you have booked in the country.
  • If you are applying for e-visa, make sure that you carry a printed copy of the e-visa application form.
  • Please carry all the medical reports and medical summary of the patient.
  • Please share a picture of the patient and the medical attendants as they start their journey so that there is our operations manager can identify them easily when they arrive at the airport.
  • Contact your case manager / operations manager / Our leadership team if you face any trouble in locating the exit in the airport or seem to be lost.

Sources

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Marketing Strategies in Healthcare Tourism

Attracting international patients is at the core of the medical tourism market, and as the industry becomes more competitive, the big players will be distinguished by their ability to attract foreign medical travelers.

Marketing is the central factor for success in the health tourism industry, and leading hospitals and countries with a huge influx of medical travelers are those with strong marketing strategies which meet the needs of these patients.

Top destinations for medical tourism today include Thailand, India, Mexico, South Korea, Malaysia and more, which combine strategies for affordability and quality of healthcare with the availability of attractive sights to offer patients a relaxing ambiance during recovery. In Europe, France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and Poland are gradually becoming choice destinations for medical tourism, according to the 2016 Medical Tourism Index Report.

The strategies for building a successful brand in the medical tourism market center on meeting the needs of the typical international medical traveler and most of these strategies require a strong public-private collaboration.

Quality of Healthcare and Accreditation

One of the drivers for medical travel is the quality of healthcare. As competition in the market of health travel becomes fiercer, players in the industry have adopted a number of strategies to increase their service value and quality in order to distinguish them from their competitors.

A few of these strategies include the availability of state-of-the-art medical infrastructure, expanding training and expertise in specific medical specialties, building strong collaborations with leading hospitals and healthcare institutions, and investing in technology and precision medicine.

Building expertise in a specific field has placed hospitals like Asklepios Clinic Barmbek on center stage in Europe’s health travel industry. The hospital received an award for its quality healthcare services especially in the areas of breast cancer surgery and surgical oncology.

Its specialized Breast Center as well as Intestine and Pancreas Center has attracted medical tourists from other parts of Europe who require highly specialized surgical procedures. In addition, Asklepios Clinic Barmbek is one of the leading centers in cancer therapy, providing cutting-edge services in surgical oncology as well as chemotherapy and radiation therapy, and it has become a hub for cancer patients across Europe.

Accreditation, which validates the quality of healthcare service provided in an institution, is another factor which determines the trend of the medical tourism market. Hospitals which have received a stamp of quality service by international accreditors such as the Joint Commission International (JCI) tend to attract more medical tourists.

These accreditors evaluate healthcare services provided in healthcare facilities, as well as the quality and competence of healthcare professionals in these facilities, and compare it with pre-established performance standards.

Medical Travel Accreditation

While ensuring high-quality healthcare services is fundamental to any marketing or branding strategy, hospitals must not overlook the importance of the patient experience in medical travel and how it will impact marketing and competitiveness. In 2016, the Global Healthcare Accreditation (GHA) Program was established as the first and only independent accrediting body focused on the medical travel patient and enhancing the Medical Travel Care Continuum (all touchpoints including pre- and post-treatment). GHA accreditation helps healthcare providers improve their competitiveness and visibility by enhancing the patient experience, improving business performance, and connecting providers with buyers of healthcare services.

Individuals across the spectrum from buyer to provider to patient all recognize the value of accreditation. In the last six months, GHA has accredited top performing hospitals around the globe including Cleveland Clinic, USA, Bumrungrad International Hospital, Thailand, and St. Catherine Specialty Hospital, Croatia.

Cost

Countries and hospitals that offer high-quality healthcare services at affordable and highly competitive prices are taking a higher share of the health tourism market.

For example, as of 2016, the cost of hip replacement surgery, which is one of the common orthopedic procedures, was quoted at $40,364 in the United States, while in Thailand and India, patients could undergo the same hip replacement at the same quality at a price of $17,000 and $7,000 respectively.

These price differences have encouraged patients – particularly from North America and Europe – to travel to these countries to get medical treatment in a bid to save money while still maintaining the quality of healthcare received.

Bumrungrad International Hospital in Thailand has become a hub for international medical travelers who need surgery for complex diseases. Serving more than 1 million patients every year, over 500,000 of which are international patients from over 190 countries, Bumrungrad International Hospital has become a significant player in the medical tourism market.

In addition to the quality of its services, Bumrungrad offers transparent and affordable pricing packages, being one of the few hospitals that post their price packages online. Through its program, REALCOST, patients can view price packages on the internet for over 70 procedures performed at the hospital.

Governmental support can also contribute to incentivizing health tourism. For example, Turkish Airlines, the country’s national carrier, gives discounts for flights to medical travelers as a way of boosting the influx of international patients.

Healthcare Professionals and Infrastructure

Patients want to feel confident about the competence and qualifications of a facility’s healthcare professionals. International medical travel is also driven by the availability of cutting-edge technological infrastructure in the chosen destination.

A major marketing strategy in the health tourism market, therefore, is improving the quality of healthcare personnel and infrastructure. A case in point is Malaysia, a country that has experienced phenomenal growth in the health tourism market over the last decade.

According to a report by Global Risk Insights, the Malaysian government invested $5.2 billion (approximately 10% of its annual budget) into healthcare in 2016, with the investment largely funding growth in medical technology, pharmaceuticals, and healthcare services. One of the major achievements is the country’s transition from importing medical devices and equipment from foreign companies, to establishing a state-of-the-art medical equipment manufacturing company in Penang, ultimately boosting its potential as a hub for medical tourism.

Another strategy employed by leading hospitals is to display the number and qualifications of their health professionals on their websites. Bumrungrad, for example, displays over 1,200 physicians and surgeons, more than 220 of whom are US trained and board-certified. This factor alone has contributed enormously to the influx of medical travelers, especially those from western countries.

International collaborations may also help professional mobility, promoting the influx of healthcare professionals from world-class partner hospitals.

International Medical Travel Department

Medical tourists travel to countries which provide not only quality and affordable healthcare services, but also a comfortable experience. Hospitals must provide strategies that promote a stress-free experience for the patient to attract more international patronage.

A hospital’s international medical department is the easiest way to reach target customers. The services of this department include providing prospective medical tourists with valuable information about the services offered and preventing communication barriers by availing trained staff who speak multiple languages to ensure easy communication with patients.

Other marketing strategies used by international travel departments include liaising with patients directly or through medical travel agents to provide medical transportation into and within the destination country. Providing online immigration services, one-to-one nursing care, Wi-Fi services, hotel reservations, recreational and tour services during recovery, and restaurant services to ensure a smooth experience for the patient are also becoming the norm.

As in every industry, success in the medical tourism industry depends on knowledge and proper execution of key strategies which must center on the need of the prospective consumers. Building a viable medical tourism market, therefore, requires collaborations between the public and private healthcare sectors.

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Five Factors to Consider before Foreign Investments in Medical Tourism

In recent times, millions of patients have been traveling from home countries to other destinations to seek health care. In 2017, for example, an estimate of 1,400,000 Americans was noted to have traveled out of the country for health purposes, with approximately 16 million international patients worldwide.

Top procedures medical tourists travel for include cosmetic surgery, dental care, cardiac surgical procedures, cancer care, and orthopedic procedures. Countries at the forefront of medical tourism today include Asian countries including UAE, India, Thailand, and Singapore, and Malaysia, as well as European countries including Turkey and Hungary. The drivers for this cross-border healthcare are the affordability and quality of care in the destination country, and access to exotic trips and a congenial ambiance during the travel period.

The medical tourism market has recorded tremendous growth over the last few years, as countries are starting to expand their healthcare systems and investments are being channeled into technology advancements and healthcare infrastructure developments to attract international patients.

Some of these investments are made by independent foreign companies and government of other countries. Investments channeled into establishing or funding healthcare facilities equipped for international medical tourists, provision of hotel services which will partner with these hospitals, investing in the country’s medical equipment and technology manufacturing industry, and investment in the airline industry for transport of the massive inflow of medical tourists into a nation.

With investments come risks, and the considerable investment needed to facilitate success in the medical tourism industry requires that stakeholders do thorough research in two key areas – the services to provided by the proposed investment project and the viability of the destination site for the investment. Experts recommend considering the following factors in assessing the appropriateness of a medical tourist destination before investing.

Safety

International patients will rarely visit a country for medical treatment if there are reports of political unrest or social upheavals in the country or if such visits will pose a threat to their personal security. Investors, therefore, should seek adequate consultations regarding the security risks and trends in the destination.

Investors are also advised to check the destination sites for adherence to the CPTED principles of environmental design and national surveillance strategies. Destinations with CPTED-compliant urban environment and building planners are associated with low-security risks and are suitable for investments in health tourism.

Reception at the Project Destination

Having the government and locals of a potential destination site support the project is a very vital factor in deciding to invest. Some undeveloped destinations may establish special economic zones (SEZs) which may offer investors duty-free import of building materials, medical equipment, and furniture, as well as offer tax incentives.

A medical tourism project should be beneficial to the community members and must ensure environmental sustenance. The project, during construction and full operation, must provide job opportunities for members of the local community, and must provide useful healthcare services for locals as it does for international travelers.

If the project doesn’t provide benefits to the community and has negative impacts on environmental preservation, the public may regard such projects as against their interests and the community members may retaliate by being inhospitable to foreigners and medical travelers which, in turn, will reduce the attractiveness of the destination.

Supportive Regulations

In the face of unsupportive legislation and government regulations, health tourism projects will not thrive. In countries with weak regulations for medical tourism, the market may be flooded with unregulated and rogue competitors which will damage the medical tourism brand and reputation for all stakeholders in that country.

In a country with poor policies and standards regarding healthcare and health tourism, and an inadequate framework for health tourism, health tourism investments have a high risk of failure. The proposed destination country must have strict active legislation on handling legal matters regarding international healthcare, fraud, and safety and pricing violations, for it to be regarded as appropriate for investments.

Investors should also ensure that there are laws regarding health informatics and health records systems in the destination country. In the same vein, legislation over telemedicine, physician mobility, and medical records transfer to patients’ home countries should be well noted.

The Right Equipment

Providing healthcare services for health tourists is beyond delivering beds and surgical equipment, it involves tailoring healthcare infrastructure and hotel inventory to the specific needs of the target patient.

For example, investing in carpeted floors during construction of a project may pose risks and challenges of the target patient are those with neurological or orthopedic disorders who may be using walkers or crutches, and who may be on wheelchairs.

Hotel facilities should suit the type of patients targeted. A facility which aims to attract obese patients for bariatric surgery must partner with a hotel that provides rooms with sturdy furniture and bed for such patients. Additionally, patients who undergo breast cancer surgery are not advised to sleep in a bed for a few days after surgery, therefore, a facility intending to specialize in breast cancer surgery must provide accommodation that has recliners in the room for the patient to sleep on during the early recovery period.

Marketing

Investing and establishing the health tourism project is one step, the other is the communication strategies to seize the target market. These strategies should include useful language translation and leveraging technology through website development and a strong social media presence.

An effective marketing strategy must center on amplifying the brand as a destination and not just a clinic, to appeal to the international community presenting it as a health tourist brand. This requires an active collaboration with local and national tourism boards, the Ministry of Tourism, and chambers of commerce. If these agencies do not provide adequate support and brand amplification, the project may fail.

These factors are essential in building a viable health tourist brand and securing a good return on investment for every investor. The health tourism industry is a growing and delicate market and factors leading to success in the business are multifaceted. A careful examination of the key areas, including the viability of the project in the destination site, operational logistics, and effective marketing and communication will guide investors on the right path to success.

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