International Patient Guide
There are numerous advantages to a medical holiday in Thailand, including cost savings, internationally accredited physicians and hospitals, and the opportunity to shop or sightsee in one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. However, if you are considering a trip to Thailand to receive medical treatment, there are a number of issues that you must first explore, some of which are recommended for anyone receiving medical treatment anywhere in the world: conducting research before selecting a particular medical treatment, choosing the appropriate doctor and hospital to perform the treatment, preparing questions to ask the physician or surgeon and scheduling an appointment. There are also issues specific to Thailand that you should consider, including the logistics of traveling to Thailand and planning your post-treatment recovery and/or holiday.
The following International Patient Guide has been designed to help you prepare yourself for these issues so that you can make the best decision regarding your medical holiday in Thailand.
1. What to research before making your decision
Before deciding to receive medical treatment overseas, it is advisable that you conduct research about your own condition and medical history, as well as the background and experience of the doctor and the facilities of the hospital where the physician is employed. It is also important to conduct research about treatment options and alternatives, potential complications of each treatment option and the recovery processes following particular medical treatments. Finally, in addition to reading patient testimonials, you should make sure to compare the different services, treatments, prices and credentials of various medical providers before selecting a doctor and/or hospital. You can find comprehensive information about various medical conditions and the treatment options for each here.
2. How to choose a doctor and hospital
For many people, it is important to select a hospital or clinic and physician or surgeon that is trustworthy and makes their patients feel comfortable. Patients have the right to ask questions about the treatments they are considering, especially regarding the competency of the physician and potential alternatives or complications. Because this decision is an important one, it is best to avoid dealing with medical service providers who act impatiently or unsympathetically.
Consequently, it is advisable that you prepare a comprehensive list of questions and not feel uncomfortable asking them to whomever you contact about potential medical treatment. It is important to get accurate information not only about the hospital facilities and the physician who will perform the treatment but also the costs involved and the time frame for scheduling your treatment and recovery process.
Different medical facilities have different policies regarding the length of stay for particular medical procedures, depending on the potential complications for such procedures. It is advisable to make sure you will be under medical supervision for as long as is necessary to ensure that potential complications are no longer a threat to your health. Many medical holiday packages may offer enticingly brief hospital stays, but patients should be aware of the recommended times necessary for a physician or surgeon to confidently discharge a patient who has undergone medical treatment. That said, hospitals and physicians are often unfamiliar with the logistics of arranging travel plans before and after medical treatment and may unknowingly schedule follow up appointments for dates that are unreasonable for those traveling on a medical holiday. Consequently, it may be advantageous to use a medical travel broker who is familiar with such issues, provided they take into account proper safety concerns.
In order to ease your fears about undergoing medical treatment, particularly overseas, it is important for you to do adequate research about your desired medical treatment and potential medical facility or physician. By informing yourself and then asking pertinent questions to which you receive satisfactory answers, you should be able to put your mind at ease about receiving such medical treatments. If you make sure you understand the factors related to the treatment you wish to receive; can acquire assurances about the skills, qualifications, and credentials of the physician and/or medical facility; and fully inform yourself about the real costs and scheduling issues, you should feel confident about your decision to undergo medical treatment in Thailand.
3. What to ask the doctor and hospital
There are numerous questions you may wish to ask a doctor or hospital representative, and doing so is an important factor when selecting a certain medical facility for your healthcare needs. One of the most important things to ask about is your personal safety, so make sure to prepare yourself adequately and don’t be afraid to ask tough questions regarding the physician’s skills or the potential complications that may arise during or after a medical procedure. As it is your body and your choice as to who will be responsible for operating on it, make sure you ask and get answers to all the questions necessary to make you feel comfortable and confident selecting a procedure or a particular doctor or hospital.
Questions you may wish to ask a doctor or hospital personnel include:
- What professional memberships do you belong to?
- What qualifications do you hold and where did you receive them?
- Are you certified with local, national, and/or international health organizations?
- What training have you received for performing this procedure?
- Do you have any other qualifications, certifications, or experience in performing this procedure?
- What is your experience in performing this type of procedure?
- How many operations of this type have you performed on previous occasions?
- How frequently and when did you last perform this type of procedure?
- What is your personal success rate for this procedure?
- What is the rate of complications that you have experienced when performing this type of procedure?
- Will I need to undergo anesthesia during this procedure?
- - If so, what type of anesthesia will be required?
- - If so, have you and the anesthesiologist worked together before?
- - If so, will the anesthesiologist perform a pre-operative and/or post-operative evaluation?
- Will the procedure take place in a private hospital, outpatient clinic, or at the doctor’s personal clinic?
- If at a private clinic, how nearby is an intensive care unit in case of emergency?
- What are the emergency medical facilities at the clinic in the event that something goes wrong during the procedure?
- How often do you conduct procedures at that clinic or hospital?
- Do you have a crash cart in case of an emergency?
- What happens if something goes wrong and I need additional treatment or another operation?
- - Who will be required to pay for any additional fees?
- - Who will be required to pay for any additional hospital costs?
- Do you have any ‘before and after’ pictures of patients you have personally treated?
- How long will I be hospitalized?
- How much recovery time will the procedure require?
- How soon after the procedure can I fly home?
- What is included in the price of the procedure?
- What is not included in the price of the procedure?
- Is there any insurance coverage for this procedure?
4. How to make an appointment
Major hospitals in Bangkok have 24 hour emergency rooms, but doctors’ appointments should be scheduled between 8:00 am and 6:00 pm, Monday - Friday. Some larger hospitals offer off-hours and weekend services. A number now feature internet appointment scheduling while others continue to rely on telephone or walk-in scheduling. Depending on the nature of your medical condition and the treatments you are considering, it is advisable to contact a hospital several weeks to several months in advance to guarantee that you can receive treatment from the doctor you prefer to provide your medical treatment.
5. How to plan your travel to Thailand
Traveling to a foreign country, particularly for the first time, can be an intimidating experience. Here are our recommended steps to take when planning your trip to Thailand:
After deciding upon which doctor and hospital, and having made an appointment:
1. Schedule return air travel (see “Airlines that fly to Thailand”)
, reserve accommodation (see “Thailand hotels")
, and book any tour packages (see “Tour packages")
. Make sure to give yourself plenty of time to rest post treatment, and take this into consideration when booking your return flight. Patients with heart problems, in particular, should not fly immediately after treatment. If you need more information about Thailand medical tourism destinations, please visit here.
2. Contact the hospital to determine what medical information/documents they will require from you and prepare these documents as well as the following documents that you should keep conveniently located while traveling to Thailand:
- Emergency contacts, including relatives, friends and your home physician.
- Map of the locations and telephone numbers of your home embassy in Thailand, the hospital where you will receive medical treatment and the hotel at which you are intending to stay.
- Copies of your passport, air tickets, medical prescriptions and other essential medical paperwork.
6. What to do after treatment
After your medical treatment, there are a number of options for your post-treatment recovery period. Depending on the level of invasiveness of the procedure you undergo, you may opt to remain in the area where your treatment was provided to schedule follow up examinations at the hospital. If possible, you may also take advantage of your time in Thailand to do some shopping, visit a spa or check out some of the country’s cultural or historical attractions.
Those undergoing dentistry or cosmetic surgeries that are less invasive may choose to travel around Thailand to participate in various activities such as golf or visit one of Thailand’s spectacular beaches and islands or mountain retreats, which are ideal for rest and relaxation.
Whatever medical treatments you opt to undergo, there are numerous options for post-treatment therapeutic care as well as a wide variety of recreational activities, allowing you to make the most of your medical holiday in Thailand.
Some other factors to consider:
- How much pain can I expect after the procedure?
- - How long will the pain last?
- What complications can occur during or after this kind of procedure?
- How soon after the procedure can I have visitors?
- Will I need physiotherapy after the procedure?
- - For how long?
- - Where will this take place?
- What help will I need at home after the procedure?
- - For how long will I need help?
- How long should I wait before I can go back to work?
- What restrictions will there be on my normal activities after the procedure?
- - For example, will I be able to drive/climb stairs/run/play sports/have sex/take a bath?
- When will I need to come back for a follow up appointment?