Medical tourism in Jamaica
How telemedicine can helpSunday, May 30, 2021
Dr Ché Bowen
EVER wanted to have plastic surgery done but didn't want your circle of friends and acquaintances to know? How about having dreams of getting your breasts done and recovering on a beach a stone's throw from your hotel room?
Not to worry — all of this is possible through medical tourism, and Jamaica is the perfect option for private, high-quality health care in a relaxing, beautiful setting.
What is medical tourism?
Medical tourism, in its simplest terms, is travelling across international borders to receive some form of medical treatment. The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that the most common medical services for which people travel include dental care, cosmetic surgery, elective surgery, and fertility treatment. If you are considering travel for medical treatment, you must do your research and be fully comfortable with the health-care provider in the visiting country ahead of arrival.
Many doctors and academics have made the distinction between medical 'tourism' and medical 'travel', pointing out that medical travel speaks to travelling for treatment that is considered essential to maintain a quality life, while medical tourism is often for non-essential procedures such as for cosmetic purposes.
Medical tourism often involves travel from a high-income to a low- or middle-income country for treatment. Some of these high-income nations from which medical tourists often come include the USA, Canada, the UK, and Australia. Before the coronavirus pandemic, PricewaterhouseCoopers looked into the statistics for medical tourism and found that approximately 500,000 medical tourists worldwide were from the USA.
The growth in medical tourism is due, in part, to the increased availability of health technology worldwide. However, for many people, the decision is made based on improved care, reduced waiting times, and a major decrease in costs. For example, the medical fees in Jamaica are documented to be approximately 50-80 per cent lower than in the USA, depending on the specific type of treatment. If you can get high-standard treatment for 80 per cent less, why not consider this option?
Medical tourism in Jamaica
If you are interested in coming to Jamaica for medical treatment, Jamaica Promotions Corporation (Jampro) has recommended the island for treatments in dentistry, ophthalmology, cosmetic as well as orthopaedic, cardiology and bariatric surgeries, and diagnostics and other procedures. If you know exactly what you have in mind for treatment, it is simple to reach out to local health care offices to get information on cost, procedure, recovery, as well as who will be your doctor.
Many Jamaicans in the Diaspora have, for years, scheduled medical visits for treatments on their planned trips home. This is to save cost and for convenience.
How can telemedicine facilitate medical tourism?
The WHO describes a benefit of telemedicine as the ability to deliver health care when distance is an obstacle. Medical tourism is the perfect for utilising the technologies offered in telemedicine. The two main advantages of including telemedicine in your medical tourism journey are efficiency in quality customer service and enhanced pre- and post-operative care.
Telemedicine can allow you to meet your doctor beforehand while having your consultations online. You can conduct all face-to-face conversations with your doctor before you even leave your home country, allowing you to become more at ease with your treatment and who will be there. You will be able to start a line of communication and clear up any or all questions and concerns from the comfort of your home.
Telemedicine will also allow your doctor to collect baseline data beforehand and evaluate if everything is fine before you come in for your procedure. In terms of your post-operative treatment, remote patient monitoring technology makes it possible for you to be monitored when you return to your home country. This monitoring can include vital signs, such as your blood pressure, or even more specific monitoring such as if your wound is healing properly. This post-operative monitoring can be the service that allows you to not only comfortably heal after your procedure but also ensure that you have no reason to end up back at the hospital.
You will find that although there may be risks, medical tourism has a wide array of benefits. Whether you are concerned with saving money or you want to get a procedure in the privacy of a different country, medical tourism can provide these and other comforts.
However, going to a new country for medical treatment may have inconveniences and may even be scary. Thanks to telemedicine, you can meet your doctor, ask questions and be monitored before and after your operation, all from the comfort and convenience of your home country. Not only will this save you time and money but it may be the variable that encourages you to consider medical tourism as a viable treatment option.
Dr Ché Bowen, a digital health entrepreneur and family physician, is the CEO & founder of MDLink, a digital health company that provides telemedicine options. Check out the company's website at www.theMDLink.com. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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