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MEDICAL TRAVEL ADVISOR

The five  most important things  you need to know before you travel.

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How can I trust the quality of the foreign doctors in the Philippines?

So, you may ask, what is the experience and credentials of international physicians, and how do I know if they are truly qualified or even licensed?

The over 100 specialized doctors at Beverly Hills Medical Group are among the best educated, trained and highly skilled medical practitioners in Asia. Experienced and board-certified in their specialties, most have graduate medical training in the US, Singapore, Japan, Australia, or Europe making them among the most capable physicians in the world. Beverly Hills Medical Group can provide you with complete information regarding the doctor of your choice in order for you to make the right decision or we can recommend a doctor specially suited for your surgical needs. With medical and management staff all fluent in English, they welcome the opportunity to be of service to improve your medical needs.

How can I correspond with a doctor at Beverly Hills Medical Group?

As part of our service, we will help facilitate the initial consultation between you and your doctor. For most surgical procedures, the doctors will want to see images of the designated region of surgery. These images can be easily sent via email through the use of a privacy number that will be assigned to you to protect your anonymity.

Is Beverly Hills Medical Group Safe?

BHMG is the only U.S. based, managed and operated facility in Asia. A premier world-class medical facility, BHMG is amongst the largest, most trusted, and internationally accredited to U.S. Healthcare Standards Out-patient Multi-Specialty Surgery Center. Developed by its Beverly Hills-based corporation, Beverly Hills Advanced Surgery Institute (BHASI), BHMG is a full-service Multi-Specialty Surgery Center with specialties in Anti-Aging, Cosmetic, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Cosmetic Laser and Dermatology Procedures, Dental (General & Cosmetic), Eye Surgery, General and Vascular Surgery, Gastroenterology, Gynaecology Surgery, Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, Otolaryngology (ENT) Surgery, Podiatry, Orthopaedic, Urology and Pain Management.

Can you select or advise which doctor to use for my procedure?

We are here to provide you with utmost information according to your choice of medical tourism package that will enable you to decide which will suit your need for quality health care and your choice of recuperating vacation. You shall be guided accordingly by your case agent and Medical Tourism Specialist.

What Important questions do I need to ask my International Physician and Medical Facility?

We have all heard nightmare stories about patients treated by someone they perceived to be a medical professional, only to later find out – sometimes tragically, that the “doctor” was a quack.

Unfortunately, these types of situations can happen in your own backyard as well as half way across the world. Nevertheless, with medical tourism you have the obvious disadvantage of not being able to meet your physician or visit your chosen hospital before a decision to travel is made. This obvious handicap, however, can sometimes turn into an unexpected advantage, as it forces you to develop a critical eye and ask many more questions than you normally would if you were addressing your surgery locally (where in many cases you just assume your doctor is good).

There are many international physicians who are tops in their field, others who are very good, and then a few bad apples who tend to grab the headlines. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that just because a doctor practices outside the U.S he is a second class physician, far from it. Many countries, including the Philippines, have strict guidelines and training requirements every bit as rigorous as those found in first-world nations. Many of these physicians were educated in North American and European universities, practice in world-class hospitals, attend seminars and conferences all over the world, and, frankly, are every bit as professional as their first-world colleagues.

A good rule of thumb is to choose a physician who is on staff at accredited medical facility. Beverly Hills Medical Group has incorporated strict US standard guidelines for accepting practicing doctors, making it likely that you are dealing with a reputable and licensed physician. Greater caution is required when approaching non-accredited hospitals and clinics, where less regulation and varying standards make it more difficult to ascertain a physician’s credentials.

The next step is to request a CV that details the doctor’s education, experience, licensing and preferably the number of procedures he or she has performed.

At some point most people feel the need to talk with their chosen physician. This is highly recommended and will get you past the dry professional qualifications to the all important gut factor: “Do I feel comfortable with this doctor”? Do I relate to him or her well, and does he or she understand my concerns? Conference calls or even video conference calls (via web cam) can easily be arranged. We can provide you this vital opportunity to ask important questions and gauge your instinct. Oftentimes this will be the turning point in whether you “go” with a certain doctor or not.

Below is a list of guideline questions that may be of assistance when first speaking to your international physician. By no means is it all inclusive.

  • Could you please describe your education and experience?
  • Are you licensed or certified in your country? What is the name of the governing body that issues licensing? Are you board certified in the U.S?
  • Do you speak English (if you are corresponding by email)?
  • Are your surgeries assisted? If so by whom and what are their credentials?
  • Do you specialize in certain procedures (more so than others)?
  • How many procedures do you perform a day?
  • What happens in case of a medical emergency (if something goes wrong)?
  • What is the typical follow up for your most commonly performed procedures and what do those include?
  • How will I get my care and medication when I’m discharged from the clinic/hospital?
  • Can you provide me with references of previous medical tourism patients of yours?
  • What happens if I have complications once I leave the country?

A common question, particularly for plastic surgery procedures, is: are you board certified? It is important to note that the term board certified does not always mean board certified in the U.S. – nor is this necessarily a bad thing. Many U.S medical associations require their members to be U.S residents or even citizens, making this requirement impractical for many international doctors. As each country has its own licensing regulations, doctors can sincerely say that they are board certified, while in reality what they mean is that they are board certified locally.

You should also not feel shy to ask the hospital or physician for referrals from previous medical tourism patients. Previous medical tourism patients are usually very happy to tell you their story, and will no doubt provide you with tips and valuable insight into the traveling abroad for surgery process.

At this point you should also be using the internet to research all you can about your chosen doctor. You may be able to find publications he or she has authored, comments from medical tourism patients, or other relevant information that will help you in your final decision.

So what criteria should you use to distinguish one hospital from the next? And how do you go about determining if a hospital is “world-class” and if it best serves your needs?

In some cases, where the doctor has been the focus of your search, you may simply trust – or take for granted, that he or she works at a quality facility. Although this assumption is likely to be true, you should always do your own due diligence to make sure that the hospital you choose is not only the best, but the best for your particular needs.

The first and most important question to ask is:

Does the hospital or clinic have experience in the procedure or treatment you will undergo?

Better yet, do they specialize in your procedure or have a center of excellence? There is no substitute for experience. This translates into lower mortality rates and complications, which means a greater chance for your procedure to be a success! It’s also no secret that top hospitals attract top physicians – another compelling reason to choose a great hospital.

Are they accredited, and if so by whom?

A quality accreditation process is a powerful factor in assuring you that your chosen hospital or clinic is visibly committed to high quality of care standards. Again, this is basically a risk reduction proposition; the higher the procedural standards and accountability mechanisms that are in place, the better odds of a successful procedure.

Is the procedure price or package affordable? What does it include?

Great facilities and technology are fine, but if you can’t pay for your surgery who cares. When requesting an estimate for a procedure, make sure to request in writing all that is included in the price. At a bare minimum, most price quotes will include doctor fees and hospital costs (“Hospital costs” is a pretty general term, so make sure you know what this covers). Also be sure you know about potential charges if there is a complication.

Do you feel comfortable with the hospital’s location?

Some people could care less about the country they are going to as long as their procedure is successful. Others prefer not to travel to certain countries they perceive as unsafe or where they are unfamiliar with the culture. How you approach this question will depend on your background, life experience, and the type of person you are.

closely related question is: How far am I willing to travel?

This has implications that include not only cost considerations and comfort; but safety issues as well (will distance affect the success of my procedure?). It is no secret that flying long distances poses certain risks, particularly for surgical medical tourism patients. Depending on your procedure, it may not be advisable for you to travel too far.

Do they have a system or process in place to assist foreign patients (an international patient department for medical tourism)?

With the explosive growth of medical tourism over the last few years, a growing number of hospitals and clinics have begun to incorporate services and amenities destined to attract and cater to the needs of medical tourists. These may include handling medical tourism patient enquiries, coordinating doctor contact, scheduling surgeries, arranging concierge services and assigning a bilingual aid to personally assist the medical tourism patient while he or she is at the hospital. In the case of hospitals, these services are usually coordinated through an in-house department sometimes referred to as an international patient office.

With all else being equal, you’re much better off going with a facility that understands who you are and where you are coming from, and has the infrastructure and resources in place to take care of your logistical needs as well as your wellbeing.

Once you have settled on a hospital and decided to go ahead with your surgery, other questions may pop up such as:

Are international hospitals and clinics as modern as hospitals in my country?

In most cases the answer is yes. Some of these hospitals and clinics have beautiful facilities that in many cases will make North American doctors green with envy. As stated earlier in this medical tourism guide, overseas medical facilities are competing with other similar hospitals all over the world intent on attracting first-world medical tourism patients, such as American, Canadian and UK medical tourism patients. They know and understand that to be competitive, they need to match or exceed what medical tourism patients expect to see in first-world hospitals. This means continually investing in sophisticated technology and equipment, as well as acquiring and training the staff to use it.

Where can I find reliable information about international hospitals and medical tourism?

The best source of information for a particular hospital is its website. Here you should be able to find information about the types of procedures offered, physician information and international patient services, if available. You will also find contact information and possibly even an estimate request form.

As with most questions relating to medical tourism, the Medical Tourism Association website is a comprehensive source for trustworthy information about some of the top international hospitals.

How do I stay in contact with friends and family at home?

Apart from a positive surgical outcome, there are few things more sacred to an international patient than the ability to remain in constant contact with family members and friends. Fortunately, with the dizzying advances in telecommunications technology, this isn’t hard to do.

For starters:

  • You can purchase pre-paid calling cards at home
  • Purchase calling cards at your overseas destination
  • Bring a roaming cell phone
  • The overseas hospital or medical tourism facilitator may provide you with a pre-paid cell phone
  • Through your laptop or a hospital computer you can send emails or talk to people using an internet phone service such as Skype.
  • Some hospitals even offer international patients free long distant calling

What if I require a blood transfusion?

No matter where you have your surgery there is always a risk that you may require a blood transfusion. For minimally invasive procedures the risk is very lower, however, the more invasive the procedure the higher the possibility that a transfusion could be necessary. This is especially true for medical tourism procedures such as open heart surgery or joint replacement surgery.

Whether or not you feel you are at a high risk for requiring a blood transfusion, you should ask your chosen hospital what type of safeguards they have in place to ensure an uncontaminated blood supply, and, what type of viruses are screened. Presently most blood banks screen for the following diseases: HIV-1 and HIV-2 (the viruses that cause AIDS), hepatitis B, hepatitis C, human T-cell lymphotropic viruses (HTLV-I and HTLV-II), ALT (the level of a liver enzyme), and syphilis.