Choosing your medical tourism destination
The medical tourism market has grown rapidly in recent years, giving you a huge number of countries and clinics from which to choose, from nearby European cities to more exotic destinations half way round the world. Each has its advantages and its drawbacks, so it is important that you do your research thoroughly before making your choice.
Choosing a country
Each country has different standards, costs and areas of expertise. For example, within Europe, Poland and Hungary have an excellent reputation for low cost dentistry, Spain offers specialist fertility treatments, while Belgium is known for affordable obesity surgery.
And you do not have to restrict yourself to Europe. Even with the price of flights and accommodation in places such as Turkey, Malaysia and Thailand, the savings on your treatment costs can still be enough to make the whole trip cheaper than having the same treatment in the UK.
Other factors to consider when choosing your destination include:
Is your chosen procedure available in that country?
What are the safety standards like and how rigorously are they enforced?
How much does it cost to get there and how long is the flight?
What are the local costs, such as meals, transport and hotels?
How easy is it to travel around, and how safe is it to do so?
When is the country’s high season, and when is it cheaper to travel there?
What is the country’s weather like and when is it most comfortable to visit?
Is English widely spoken and are you likely to be understood?
Choosing a clinic
Once you have chosen your country, there are two routes to finding a clinic. Either you can research the available clinics yourself, using the internet or by calling them directly, or you can use a medical tourism broker (and agency or facilitator), who may find the most appropriate clinics for you, as well as arranging all your travel and accommodation.
If you are going directly to the hospitals and clinics, you need to find out as much information about the healthcare provider as possible. Ask for any literature and brochures they have, as well as details of the background and qualifications of the consultants, surgeons and medical staff. You should also find out as much as you can about the clinic from independent sources, such as online forums and independent review sites.
For more information about how to compare clinics and the questions you should ask, see the other sections of this guide.