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HEALTH TRAVEL Free

HEALTH TRAVEL Free Choice of Doctor National regulations and the global challenge Selecting a doctor It is the basic right in most, but not all, European countries for a patient to select a doctor according to their own free will. The insurance companies or cost bearers do not have the right to recommend or direct patients to a particular doctor or clinic. The reality is quite different of course, as the patient is not left alone by his General Practitioner with the statement: “Its completely up to you where you want to go! Here is the yellow book of hospitals for your cancer treatment…!” The GP counsels the patient on where and whom to be treated by. Selling the patient This situation is a bit of a two sided coin. There have been recent scandals in Germany where the referral against payments between doctors have been brought to the government’s attention. Doctors in Germany who send patients to colleagues, in order to receive financial compensation for the referral, can lose their license from the chamber and face a law suit. The whole procedure is a criminal act and many cases are currently under investigation. The best part about a doctor to doctor referral is that in more than 85% of cases there is quality control: the patient is helped to meet an informed decision and guided to the best medical solution available to them in their particular area, irrespective of commercial advantages. These days patients often try and find out health information through the internet. In almost all the cases where a patient uses the internet for their health information there is one simple piece of advice: “Go and talk to your doctor!” A patient cannot decide which professional therapy to choose—not even when they are a doctor! International healthcare opens new dimensions but also highlights new gaps in counseling quality. Many print magazines and newspapers offer to close these gaps. Some of them even try to attract readers by coming up with a list of the “100 best doctors in town” or the “500 top physicians in the country”. These reports are then repeated on a yearly basis with the names and addresses constantly changing. One suspects that the flexibility of these lists is not just down to the the normal fluctuation of doctors in towns. Meanwhile the periodical appearance of such reports are not taken very seriously by the readers. Institutes that refer patients from abroad to high quality destinations often seem to love these gazettes as they serve them with a quick and easy reference of where to send their patients. The informed patient Treatment Abroad, a provider of neutral patient information, offers guidelines for patients on what to check before making a decision. For a patient the question of “where to go” before they appoint a doctor is a very Source: Haderer, Dealing with malpractice important one. It is not simply a question of “Who is the best doctor?” They need to consider the answers to a complex set of questions. We have asked Keith Pollard from Treatment Abroad, what he recommends a patient should consider before making their choice. He says: “Making the right choice of clinic or surgeon for a treatment abroad involves asking questions. Lots of them! The responses will help them make the right decision. If one is not happy with the answers or the clinic even avoids answering specific questions: go somewhere else…” “Our checklists may offer you 50 questions or more. We still regard this as by no means an exhaustive list but it gives the patient an idea of the sort of questions to ask”, says Pollard. Detailed check lists for various conditions can be retrieved from Treatment Abroad / Intuition directly. Hints and Tips The Treatment - is there a waiting list to be seen? - what policies do you run to reduce risks? - what is the teatment methodolgy? The Doctor - detailed profile and background? - qualifications and trainings? - member of which associations? - can I speak to the doctor directly? The Clinic - accreditations? - level of fluency in English/home language - post operative infection rate - documentation system for surgeries? Quality and Track Record - success rates on medical outcomes? - can I speak to past patient´s expe riences? - are there patient satisfaction records? - complication rates? If something goes wrong… - backup facilities inhouse? ICU? - what kind of malpractice insurance? - complications are covered with the price? - guarantees for treatment/materials? Cost and Paying Arrangements - total cost proposal, what is included? - payment methods? Paying upfront? Source: www.treatmentabroad.com UWE KLEIN 14

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