The number of people visiting foreign countries for medical treatment is reportedly on the rise. And whilst personal circumstances will necessarily vary by individual, there are three motivating factors typically behind the decision to go abroad for such purposes: affordability, availability, and quality.
In the past, medical tourism—as the practice has come to be known—mainly entailed those from less-developed regions journeying to more developed lands. However, today, the inverse occurrence is just as likely, if not more so. Not only this, but, increasingly, residents of highly-developed countries are now travelling to others of equal or near-equal economic standing for treatment.
For those residing in areas where medical costs are be prohibitive, the decision to go abroad is frequently a question of economy. But the question may just as well be one of obtainability—a particular treatment may not yet be provided in their country, no matter how developed, forcing them to look beyond their own borders.
In either case, the challenge for the medical tourist remains one of finding the care she needs at a price she can afford—without sacrificing quality. This last criterion is critical. For a reduction in cost is useless if the level of service suffers as a result.
Gladly, economy and quality are not mutually-exclusive properties, and there are countries where the care is excellent and the asking price quite palatable—even modest in some instances. A handful of such countries fall within continental Europe and, amongst these, the Czech Republic stands out prominently for sheer value.
Czechs have historically placed a premium on health care that is at once first-rate and affordable for all. It is a persistent mindset stretching back to at least the 19th century and one that seems to have penetrated even into the country`s private healthcare sphere.
Cosmetic surgery—breast augmentation, in particular—is the most popular type of procedure for medical tourists coming to the Czech Republic, but close behind are bariatrics, orthopaedics, and, especially, assisted reproduction. In 2016, the country ranked in the top five destinations for Britons looking for IVF abroad, and, alongside Turkey, is the most economically priced of the nations on that list.
Another attractive, if secondary, aspect of the medical tourism experience is the sightseeing opportunities it presents the sojourner. Once the requisite considerations of destination and service provider have been seen to, the traveller may turn his mind to more leisurely pursuits, and the Czech Republic offers no shortage of these.
This is especially true of Prague, which yearly plays host to millions of tourists from all over the world who come to experience its culture, history, and general splendour. It also happens to be where many of the country`s best clinics are located, which bodes doubly well for the medical traveller.
Deciding upon a destination country with a solid reputation for medical care is all well and good, but selecting a treatment provider from the plethora of clinics likely to be found within that country presents a new challenge—especially to the uninitiated. In these circumstances, it is beneficial to secure the assistance of a third party who knows the lie of the land and who specialises in connecting would-be patients with credible clinics in the area. This is where medical tourism agencies come in.
In the Czech Republic, the country`s first and longest-running medical tourism agency is Medical Travel. Based in the capital, they have been in operation since 2010 and cooperate with some of the nation`s most respected clinics to provide high-calibre services in IVF and egg donation, weight-loss procedures, plastic surgery, and stem cell therapy.
Medical Travel`s prices are guaranteed, and the client pays no more than if he were to go directly through the treatment provider. Nor are there hidden costs—all expenses are laid bare before any transactions take place.
The agency is intimately acquainted with the requirements of foreign patients, and long experience has equipped them well to serve this demographic, efficiently and effectively. Each client is assigned a personal coordinator who assists throughout the course of treatment—not only in interfacing with the care provider, but also in helping with lodging, offering touring advice, and extending moral support.
And this human element is essential to the process. In any industry, services and facilities may be sterling, but if attentiveness and solicitude are lacking, all else means very little. Perhaps nowhere is this truer than in medical tourism, where understanding and a kind word can go far in helping the traveller feel at home.
When it comes to choosing a destination country and an agency or clinic for one`s medical needs, the sheer multiplicity of options can be overwhelming. But the incontrovertible truth is that some of these are simply better than others. The Czech Republic and Medical Travel both rank within this select group and are well worth the consideration of those who would have superior medical care in a sublime setting, at a price they can digest.