Health tourism provider
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A health tourism provider or medical tourism provider is an organisation or a company which seeks to bring together a prospective patient with a service provider, usually a hospital or a clinic. If the patient is crossing international borders to obtain medical care, then that individual would usually be known as a medical tourist. These groups are generally facilitators and developers of medical tourism, which brings into play a number of issues that do not apply when a patient stays within their own country of origin.
Some such organisations and companies specialize in certain areas of healthcare, such as cosmetic surgery, dentistry or transplant surgery, while others are more generalised in their approach, providing multiple services over a wide range of medical specialities.
Medical quality standards vary around the world, and international accreditation is relatively new. For these reasons, potential clients may face unknowns and risks related to quality, safety and ethics. Medical tourists look to health tourism providers to provide information about quality, safety and legal issues, but the quality of such information and services varies.
Medical tourism or health tourism provider assist you in planning your medical travel.They offer complete information on medical facilities, service providers, medical professionals, travel agencies, resorts, medical/travel insurance overseas as well as of local areas. Millions of medical travelers travel overseas for their medical, dental, and cosmetic procedures.
Health tourism providers make information available about the hospitals, clinic and the doctors that they are partnered with, but the nature, extent and quality of the information provided by different organizations and companies working in this field varies enormously. Hospital quality indicators can include whether they have been subjected to independent international healthcare accreditation, practice evidence-based medicine, and good governance, and whether independent health care staff, particularly the doctors providing the services, have been subjected to independent credentialing, as well as evidence that the doctors maintain and improve their personal professional standards.
In addition, there are a number of non-medical angles which receive varying degrees of attention by providers. These include:
- Prices and how to pay
- Non-medical risks involved
- Language issues
- Availability of techniques (e.g. new operations, new approaches to infertility, new imaging techniques)
- Pre-travel health issues, such as antimalarial therapy (e.g. for Thailand) and relevant immunisations (e.g. typhoid and hepatitis A are recommended for travelling to Turkey or the Philippines)
- Ethics (for example, see Organ harvesting in China)
- Medico-legal issues (e.g. are the doctors providing the treatment adequately indemnified or carrying personal malpractice insurance ?, is the hospital itself adequately insured? can a patient sue if things go wrong ? will the hospital repatriate the body of a patient who dies on the operating table ?)
In 2006 the group CEO of Bumrungrad Hospital in Thailand, stated "If there's a mistake, we fix it..... But the idea of suing for multimillions of dollars for damages is not going to be something you can do outside the U.S." However, Americans and Europeans going overseas as medical tourists may not be able to take effective legal action if they are dissatisfied with their experience. The Medical Protection Society, a British group, is responsible for indemnifying doctors in many countries, including Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Brunei, which increases the level of protection enjoyed both by patients locally as well as those coming in as medical tourists. This service is not free.
There are many good hospitals and there is absolutely no reason to make it unsafe. The problem is that many prospective patients treat medical tourism the same way as online shopping. In a surgery, cheaper is not always better. Mr. Bob Talasila, the president of a leading American medical tourism company- World Medical and Surgical LLC echos the same feelings. Common sense should always prevail while making such important decisions. One of the top medical tourism destinations is the Cali-Baja region in Mexico, basically in Tijuana, whit a high number of plastic and bariatric surgeries, almost a 100 per day (combined). 
Currently, while hospitals providing medical tourism services may be subject to international accreditation by a reputable independent international group, there is currently no organisation responsible for accrediting the health tourism providers themselves and ensuring that their operating standards are safe and ethical. The Medical Tourism Association is encouraging everyone in the medical tourism field to follow their guidelines and become a part of this association in order to create a well recognize organization in this matter.
- Quality assurance
- Medical tourism
- Hospital accreditation
- International healthcare accreditation
- Society for International Healthcare Accreditation, SOFIHA
- Evidence-based medicine