“A healthy interest”: all about medical tourism

«Здоровый интерес»: все о медицинском туризме

«Здоровый интерес»: все о медицинском туризме

“A healthy interest”: all about medical tourism

Medical tourism is gaining popularity around the world. Every year in this stream more and more travelers from Russia, but many still stop organizational complexity and fear to be deceived.

22 April 2019 at 14:03


What is it?

Medical tourism is not only a “serious” procedure hospitalization, but also beauty and Spa treatment, Spa and Wellness. But if the health Spa resorts for most travelers – the theme is quite clear, the appeal to medical centers abroad, even just to pass the examination or to confirm the diagnosis – this is the level of “pro”.


People go abroad for treatment for two reasons: the level of medicine in another country above and/or the cost of services below. Every year these patients travelling more and more, and this is a General trend in the world: according to the Medical Tourism Index (MTI), 3-4% of the world population in the next 10 years will travel for rehabilitation. In 2018, MTI was named the most popular medical destinations for international tourists Canada, UK, Israel and South Korea. As for the Russians, the exact statistics are not disclosed in respect of medical services, many prefer anonymity. But we know that every year our fellow citizens are increasingly going to be treated in other countries: after the reform of 2014 has closed many state hospitals, and turns to the Russian specialists will inevitably grow. In the list of the most common reasons for medical travel – problems related to orthopedics, Oncology, cardiology, neurosurgery, gynecology, and, of course, aesthetic medicine.

Sometimes patients recommend a treatment that is not yet certified in Russia. This, for example, radiotherapy, radionuclide therapy using lutetium-177, which is prescribed for certain types of tumors. Today, for this treatment you need to go to Germany.


Each medical tourism has already developed a reputation.

• In Switzerland, Japan, Singapore and the USA triumphs precision and adaptability in all leading clinics operate not only people, but also robots, however, the prices here are among the highest.

• In Germany, South Korea and Israel the medicine is too high, however, as a rule, cheaper. In Israel, many different specialists (especially in terms of chronic disease prevention and treatment of cancer), but the scammers earn on tourists, patients, a lot. In Belarus, our countrymen frequently treated teeth, the prices here are really nice, but the information about the clinics is passed exclusively by word of mouth, and the infrastructure leaves much to be desired. South Korea famous centres where endoscopic treatment of the spine, the organ transplantation and treatment of gastric cancer. And the main thing – here goes the global flow of patients plastic surgery. In this area is also popular in Thailand, UAE, Brazil, Costa Rica, Singapore, China.

• In China also used the most advanced technology treatment of cancer. The doctor can complement modern methods a course of acupuncture. But “lost in translation” more than anywhere else. In India not only affordable and modern medicine, but also a huge pharmaceutical industry that is in many expensive medicines are more affordable counterparts. Indian doctors are famous in the field of transplantation of organs – primarily the liver and heart, but, despite the fact that the last 25 years, the donation in the country is governed by strict laws, the black market internal organs still exist.

A separate direction – orthopaedic surgery and sports medicine. In this respect the famous clinics of Europe, Israel, South Korea and Singapore.

Childbirth abroad

Many people choose a hospital abroad due to the more comfortable conditions. Moreover, in some countries (e.g. USA) you can get citizenship by right of birth. And, of course, to foreign experts send for whatever reasons, if the diagnosis the baby is delivered during pregnancy. Whatever reasons you may have been better to go to the hospital, where the maternity wards are part of the perinatal centers: in an emergency emergency care to the newborn and the mother are directly available in the delivery room. Among the popular destinations – Germany, Switzerland, Israel, Malta, Czech Republic.

Clinical examination

The program check-up abroad is a chance without the stress and queues to pass all the main specialists for tests and make analyses like ECG, x-ray and ultrasound. You can select the baseline survey or individual (if, for example, it is necessary to confirm the diagnosis). The service is popular in clinics in Europe, Israel, South Korea and Singapore. Many undergo a diagnostic, relaxing in the health resort (you can refer to the tour operator or to book a survey on their own).

Company consultants

In some cases it is cheaper and easier to organize the trip yourself – if you are fluent in the language and if you have a personal connection to the country, especially in the medical community. Sometimes with the organization and payment of charity funds. But most still have to go to the consultant. Sometimes it can offer more favorable prices thanks to our relationships with physicians and knowledge of pricing. Intermediary company will provide a full package of organizational services – search for a physician, approving the budget, transfers, accompanied by an interpreter and the preparation of the documents, if necessary – organization of sanitary air transportation (on a personal plane or helicopter, or a scheduled flight). For the treatment and accommodation are borne by the patient himself directly in the clinic or the hotel. This way is the easiest way to check how a consulting company decent. If you offer immediately to pay for the mediator (sometimes not even in the office, the airport or in the hotel lobby), this should cause serious concern.

In any case, even if you plan to organize a trip, it is better to compare its estimates with the calculations of a consulting company, and request treatment options in several clinics. You can use the services of telemedicine – online consultations with Russian and foreign doctors. Now there are more of these services, the communication takes place via video or regular call, as well as in chat format.

International insurance

Another way to go for treatment abroad – insurance coverage international medical insurance (MMS). It covers not only emergency assistance but also non-medical costs: tickets, transfers, selection of clinic location. There are some “but” – the insurance company may refuse the issuance of the policy, if you have already identified serious disease, or simply due to old age of the patient. List of treatments and diseases also, as a rule, is limited not paid for the treatment of certain diseases, discovered in the first year of insurance. And there is a good chance that the insurance you will not be able to undergo treatment specific to your chosen clinic, the insurance company will choose the medical institution.

The policy of MMS differs from the basic insurance for travelers. But if you go to treatment not the insurance, and yourself, a “normal” policy will also have to purchase is required for a medical visa, and in order to protect you from unforeseen medical risks.

Where to start?

Perhaps the most difficult question for those who have never encountered the topic of medical tourism. We asked for comments to Dmitry Ladyzhenskiy, Director of development company “Be healthy” bud-zdorov.de and the author of the blog dimalad.com.

The first stage is information search, every way: through friends, through forums, through a consulting firm. Feel free to ask questions, query papers, summary of doctor and patient testimonials. In the largest clinics of Europe and Asia usually have special departments dealing with foreign patients, and provides information (the absence of such a Department ought to arouse suspicion).

The choice of direction

Pay attention to those countries which invest more in the healthcare system. Success depends on the standards of diagnosis and treatment and equipment, hygiene and even from ventilation and carpeting.

The calculation of the cost

After the patient enters the relationship with the consultant or directly with the clinic, it provides your personal data and sends medical records. After some time, will be ready prior medical plan and the approximate cost estimate (this amount is correct).

When the budget is approved

Is to determine the exact date of the trip and, if necessary, to make a prepayment. If the clinic is in a country which requires a special medical visa, the patient collects required documents and sends them to the visa application centre. You can then go on a journey for the diagnosis, confirmation of plan and treatment.

If the patient cannot come at the appointed date, in German hospitals, made the money will not burn and will either be credited back to the patient or will be waiting for his arrival is regulated by law. In many other European countries the situation is similar. But still it is better to discuss the issue and obtain written confirmation that in case of cancellation of procedure, the money will be able to save.

«Здоровый интерес»: все о медицинском туризме

What to ask the doctor?

The main issues for those who decide to organize a trip. Ask need them in the conversation and save all messages.

– Do medical center international accreditation (preferably a certificate of Joint Commission International, International Organization for Standardization, the EU — ISO 9001) or accreditation by national health authorities or academic institutions?

– Are there any statistics on the treatment of your problems at the clinic?

– What doctors dealing with this problem?

– What is the approximate cost of the procedure and hospitalization?

– Much needed days in the hospital?

– Do you have medical facilities able to arrange transfers and provide medical interpreter?

– Is there a medical liability insurance (in case of professional mistakes)?

– Do you return the money in case of delays or patient cancellations?

The necessary paperwork

For treatment in the clinic, you should provide a complete medical history, all the tests, shots and discs with MRI, CT, x-ray and ultrasound. A consulting company often is engaged in the transfer of these securities. If you make the trip yourself, you can contact the translation Bureau, but better make sure they have experience with medical texts.

At the conclusion of the contract with the clinic it should be translated into Russian language – there is written, what services are included and what to expect in the event of default.

The choice of the country

Remember that in some diseases it is not recommended abrupt change of climate, excessive humidity or heat. While other problems are better to completely abandon air travel (for example, if you have asthma exacerbations or increased intracranial pressure).


By law, the medical visa is required in every country with which Russia has visa relations. In fact, often patients are limited to the usual tourist visa, but in the Schengen countries, for example, in this case, they will be considered violators of the visa regime. Medical visa is issued at the visa application center for patient and attendant if it is written in the invitation from the clinic. In addition to the invitation need help with a diagnosis, proof of payment in full of treatment, as well as a standard set of documents for the visa.

The trip

Even if your planned procedure does not involve extended hospitalization, you should think about comfort, especially on the way back. If you have no needs of air ambulance, you may want to lay a supplementary budget for high class air travel home. It is desirable, that you were a trusted companion on whom you can rely in every sense of the word. Well, if possible, to provide for the trip a little more days than specified in the treatment plan to recover and see the sights.

If something went wrong

In many countries the government controls the professional responsibility of medical workers. Also possibility of insurance of medical responsibility should be specified in the contract with the clinic. If insurance is included in the list of services, then the deterioration in the result of the treatment, the patient filed a complaint to the insurance. If she refuses, the case goes to court (but can not do without a lawyer, versed in the local laws).

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