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Medical travelers face many challenges as they seek to coordinate care outside of their area of residence. These include:
Service and destination selection
There may be difficulty finding information on a healthcare provider’s website related to the treatment they are seeking, or the support and services provided to medical travelers.
The information on the website may not be sensitive to the patient’s cultural/religious background (lack of localization). For example, colors, images and symbols.
It may not be easy to contact the right person or department. For example, phone numbers not easily visible of the website or numbers that direct to the wrong department. Or a lack of other contact methods such as web forms, social media, Whats App.
Information sharing (and preparation and planning)
There may be difficulty accessing timely and accurate information from the healthcare provider. There may be a lack of relevant information on the website, or the destination healthcare providers takes too long to respond.
The information may not be in the patient’s language of choice.
There may be a risk that the patient’s private health information is not properly safeguarded during transmission. For example, being sent by email versus being uploaded to a secure web portal.
Travel-Arrival & Accommodation
Travel, especially in the current environment can pose many challenges. The need for visas, medical tests, vaccine certificates, risks of possible travel issues such as flight delays or delayed or missed airport pick-up).
Patients may have special needs during travel (e.g. air ambulance, wheel chair, business class).
Patients might be booked at a hotel that is not appropriate for the patient’s condition and needs. Perhaps it lacks rooms for patients with limited mobility, or the capability to provide special diets.
Without proper training, hotel staff may lack an understanding of the special needs of medical travel patients, which could negatively impact the patient/guest experience.
Admission & Treatment
There may be a lack of support by someone (patient advocate) who understands the patient’s and companion’s needs and can provide orientation upon arrival at the hospital or clinic.
The admission process could be burdensome for the patient (especially if they are tired after traveling) if no fast-track admission process is in place.
There may be challenges with on-site communication if staff do not speak the patient’s language of choice and no interpreters are available.
There might be a lack of menu options appropriate to the patient’s cultural/religious preferences.
There may be a lack of clear discharge instructions for the patient’s aftercare or the instructions are not in the patient’s language of choice.
Medical records may not be available in the patient’s language of choice.
There may be financial issues such as extra charges due to medical complications or having to spend a longer time in the hospital.
Follow-up & Departure
There may be a lack of monitoring of the patient or assistance at hotel or aftercare facility.
There might be medical complications at the destination or once the patient returns home that need to be addressed in a very timely manner.
There may be little or no follow-up with the patient or a patient satisfaction survey once the patient returns home.