Six Reasons For Making Thailand Your Medical Tourism Destination
For decades, Thailand has been one of the world’s favorite tourism destinations due to its diverse attractions, great tourism infrastructure, excellent food, and friendly people. Recently, Thailand has also become a leader in the medical tourism market, rising to the top of the listings in Asia with a constantly growing number of medical tourists. In 2010, the number of international patients was about 1.8 million.
What has made Thailand become such a popular destination for medical tourism? What has made so many people from around the world put their trust in Thailand’s healthcare?
If you ask those patients who have had healthcare in Thailand, they will give you the same reasons, summarized in these “Six Reasons to Make Thailand Your Medical Tourism Destination”.
Reason 1: Thailand features internationally accredited medical facilities
Hospitals and other medical facilities in Thailand pride themselves on their high standards, and many have subjected their premises and systems to the most rigorous classification by applying for accreditation and certification, whereby a qualified standards organization - distinct from the healthcare organization under review - assesses the hospital or facility to determine if it meets a set of standards and requirements designed to improve the quality of patient care. This voluntary process provides a tangible and visible commitment by the hospital to continually ensure a safe environment for its patients and staff.
Thailand was the first country in Asia to achieve JCI accreditation in 2002, and 28 hospitals are now accredited:
• Bangkok Heart Hospital
• Bangkok Hospital
• Bangkok Hospital Hua Hin
• Bangkok Hospital Pattaya
• Bangkok Hospital Phuket
Bangkok Hospital Samui
• Bangkok Hospital Trat & International Clinic Koh Chang (Ambulatory Care)
• Bangkok International Dental Center
• BNH Hospital
• Bumrungrad International
• Central General Hospital
• Chaophya Hospital
• Chiangmai Ram Hospital
• Metta International Eye Center (Ambulatory Care)
• Nonthavej Hospital
• Phuket International Hospital
• Pitsanuvej Hospital
• Praram 9 Hospital
• Ramkhamhaeng Hospital
• Samitivej Srinakarin Hospital
• Samitivej Sriracha Hospital
• Samitivej Sukhumvit Hospital
• Sikarin Hospital
• Synphaet Hospital
• Vejthani Hospital
• Vibhavadi Hospital
• Wattanosoth Cancer Hospital
• Yanhee Hospital
Moreover, JCI sets Clinical Care Program Certification standards (CCPC), which are awarded to institutions demonstrating excellence in fostering better outcomes in specific clinical care services, or treatment of specific diseases and conditions. Five Thai hospitals have received CCPC certificates:
• Bangkok Hospital Medical Center (acute coronary syndrome, breast cancer conserving therapy, heart failure, primary stroke, low back pain program, diabetes mellitus (Type 2))
• Bumrungrad International (primary stroke, acute myocardial infarction with ST segment elevation, diabetes mellitus type1 and , chronic kidney disease stage I to IV)
• Samitivej Srinakarin Hospital (low back pain, primary stroke, childhood asthma)
• Samitivej Sukhumvit Hospital (lung cancer, acute myocardial infarction, knee osteoarthritis)
• Vejthaini Hospital (diabetic care, heart failure, knee replacement)
Additionally, many Thai hospitals use Hospital Accreditation (HA), a four-stage process that combines self-assessment and peer assessment to judge performance levels against established standards and identify methods of improvement.
Reason 2: Thailand’s medical professionals are highly qualified
Not only do Thailand’s leading medical facilities achieve the highest international standards, but so do the individuals who work in them. The physicians, surgeons and nurses have been meticulously trained to the highest levels, while many specialists have been conducting researches and gaining experiences at the world’s best medical institutes with some even leading the field in which they specialise.
Many Thai doctors and surgeons practicing today have won awards for their work and endeavors and more than 500 doctors practicing in Thai hospitals are American Board Certified.
These medical professionals are skilled at providing the highest quality medical treatment.
Reason 3: Cost saving
The cost of medical treatments in Thailand is significantly lower compared to identical treatments in the developed world. In fact, treatments in Thailand are typically far less expensive than elsewhere in the world.
In comparison to the US $130,000 cost of a heart bypass in the United States, the procedure can be performed by skilled and qualified doctors at a Thai hospital for only US $11,000.
Likewise, hip or knee replacements in the US cost $43,000 and $40,000 respectively, but only $12,000 and $10,000 in Thailand.
A spinal fusion procedure in the US averages $62,000 and in Thailand only $7,000.
Even most cosmetic treatments are around 50% less expensive in Thailand than in the USA, where Breast Augmentation costs around $3,500-4,000 as opposed to $2,600-$3,200 in Thailand.
A facelift in the United States costs around $4,500-5,000 compared to $2,400 in Thailand.
Liposuction is $2,500-3,000 instead of $1,200 in Thailand;
and a Hair Transplant, which is more than $4,000 in the USA is between $1,000 and $2,000 in Thailand.
Even greater savings are available for those opting for dental treatments in Thailand rather than the USA. Tooth whitening in America costs around $1,000: ten times more expensive than the $100 charged in Thailand, while a root canal that costs between $500 and $2,000 in the USA, costs only approximately $150 in Thailand.
Reason 4: No waiting lists
One of the great advantages of receiving medical treatment in Thailand is the ease with which appointments for treatment can be arranged. Thailand hospitals have numerous operating theaters and enough qualified surgeons that there is little, if any, waiting for scheduling even the most complex and invasive procedures.
Reason 5: Thailand’s medical technology is state-of-the-art
All of Thailand’s leading hospitals feature state-of-the-art technology that helps them provide the highest degree of medical treatment and service. Technology equipment includes:
• Siemens Biograph 64 PET/CT, which is superior to other CT and MRI machines in early cancer detection and diagnosis.
• Image Guided Radiotherapy (IGRT), which is the most accurate method for targeting radiation to cancerous tumors, and R2 CAD ImageChecker that has 6-20% higher breast cancer detection rates than standard CAD digital mammography, allowing more accurate early detection and reducing the incidences of false positives.
• Blood Marrow Stem Cell Transplant, a complex medical treatment program that can offer a cure for many otherwise incurable blood or bone marrow diseases and certain cancers in adults and children.
• Gamma Knife Surgery, which allows for non-invasive brain surgery using highly targeted gamma radiation.
• The da Vinci Surgical System, which uses robotics to translate a surgeon’s natural hand movements to apply less invasive incisions with unprecedented precision during heart surgery.
• 256-slice Multi-detector CT Scan, which is faster and yields far higher resolution images than other CT Scanners.
• CARTO SOUND Module for identifying and treating arrhythmias with unprecedented precision and confidence.
• Endovascular and Interventional Radiology for treatment of veins and arteries using DSA (Digital Subtraction Angiography).
• Uterine Fibroid Embolization, which is a minimal-invasive procedure used to remove fibroid tumors in the uterus without general anesthesia.
• Digital Mammogram, which allows more accurate diagnosis and earlier discovery, particularly in women under 50.
• Greenlight PVP Laser to precisely target prostate tissue with a high-powered laser beam, a procedure often performed in an out-patient setting.
• Novalis Shaped Beam Surgery System for non-invasive stereotactic radiosurgery and stereotactic radiotherapy to destroy diseased tissue or cauterize a problem area without affecting healthy adjacent tissue.
• 4D Ultrasound operating at a speed of 25 volumes per second.
• MRI - Intera Achieva 3.0T MRI, which yields the information necessary to discover blood circulation abnormalities and is particularly useful in the early detection of brain cancer.
• IMRT (Intensity Modulated Radiotherapy), which is an innovative cancer treatment that utilizes ionizing radiation in the treatment of malignant tumors.
• Picture archiving and communication systems (PACS) that enables images such as x-rays and scans to be stored electronically, so that doctors and radiologists can access an image and compare it with previous images from anywhere in the hospital.
Moreover, many hospitals make use of fully automated drug management systems, picture archiving and communication systems to ensure that administration and communication are as seamless as the treatments themselves.
Reason 6: Thailand offers excellent service
Thais are proud that their national character has won them a well-deserved reputation for their compassion and warm hospitality, and that’s why the country is nicknamed “The Land of Smiles”. Patients become so much at ease that they feel almost like a guest on holiday from the moment they arrive at the hospital.
The level of service excellence is virtually unprecedented in the world and many patients and visitors are pleasantly surprised to find hospitals in Thailand with excellent restaurants, coffee shops and personalized room service not seen or experienced anywhere else in the world. The hospitals themselves offer facilities found usually only in 5-star hotels, and patients from anywhere in the world can enjoy immaculate private rooms, translation services, room service including Halal prepared cuisine and access to prayer facilities of their chosen faith.
All patients can enjoy healthcare and nursing of the highest standards - standards actually set by some Thai hospitals over the years - and Thai nurses, physicians, surgeons and therapists never forget the most fundamental element in a complete treatment and swift recovery: namely, a warm and caring human touch. Staff are truly friendly and considerate to the needs of all their patients, and they will do everything to make you feel relaxed and confident in the treatments you have selected, ensuring all your needs are met.
Thailand hospitals feature 24-hour nursing care, and staff are experienced in assisting foreign patients, with more than 30 hospitals employing specialized English speaking staff and many providing translators in a wide variety of foreign languages, including Arabic, Bengali, French, German, Korean, Mandarin, Chinese, Vietnamese and Japanese.
Only in Thailand, patients can also opt for recovery from their treatment outside of the hospital, and in accommodating this requirement to combine treatment with a vacation, the hospital can provide a medical escort service wherever the patient chooses to vacation, ensuring expert, qualified and comprehensive medical care and attention while recovering by the beach or in the mountains of Thailand.