June 2010


Chris Y from USA had a hip replacement surgery at Fortis Hospital, Mumbai, India facilitated by Healthbase. Following is his story about his experience with medical tourism abroad for hip replacement surgery.

About 5 weeks ago I went from the USA (Raleigh, North Carolina) to Mumbai, India, for hip replacement surgery. I have been home for a while now and am happy to report I am making great progress toward total recovery.

My hip problem was with me many years, but only showed itself during the past one year. In that year my gait went from normal to limping to a sort-of painful hop on only my good leg. Clearly I was in need. So I researched greatly many options both in the USA and abroad and found that more hip operations were successfully performed overseas, specifically in India. Through my research I connected with Moe, who is Healthbase’s Customer Support Manager. He patiently answered each of my questions, even when I would call again and ask new and different questions. Moe arranged for a 3-way conversation with the surgeon of my choice, who, also through my research, I chose to be the world-renowned hip resurfacing/joint replacement surgeon, Dr. Kaushal Malhan. After consideration, I realized that Healthbase, Dr. Malhan, and Fortis hospital were the right choices for me.

About 3 months later I was ready to take a trip to Mumbai, India to become whole again. Being adventurous, I arranged for my own airfare, while Moe arranged for my hospital stay, and the date of my surgery. My stay in the hospital was for a total of 12 days and 12 nights, which went by very quickly.

I hopped on the plane, (actually 3 planes), and was met at the airport (at 1 am) by Bharat, who is Fortis hospital’s International Patient Relations Manager. That same night I was brought to my room, where my check-in went fast and easy.

Let me tell you about my room. It was spacious (it was actually called a suite). It was well lit and very clean. I had all the amenities I could want – a TV, a computer, a phone, a refrigerator (stocked with complementary juices), a large easy chair, hot water-maker for coffee, lots of pillows to lounge with, and a very big bathroom area. Every day during my stay the cleaning crew came to clean everything (even the bathroom) and to change my linens.

The day after my arrival was devoted to surgery prep, which went like clockwork. It was obvious the staff had plenty of experience. I was scared, as I had never had surgery before, but was reassured at each step by every one of the staff member’s professional demeanor. The next day was my surgery, which apparently went very well. (In addition, I also needed bone grafting – this had been explained to me the day before the surgery). I felt well and strong almost immediately after the surgery. For a few days after the surgery I was given, it seems, just the right amount of pain medication, since I felt no pain, yet could easily read a newspaper, had a normal sleep pattern, and a good appetite.

Doctors, nurses, and dieticians would stop by my room daily to ask how I was feeling, did I need anything, and would I like to have anything different foodwise. The meals were always very tasty, as I could choose daily from a menu book, which had a wide variety of Indian or Continental cuisine. I could specify anything I would like to eat for any meal. I did eat a large amount each day, and had fresh fruit plates at least twice a day. Also, the kitchen was just a phone call away, so I could ask for anything at any time, day or night.

I am now moving about several hours each day without crutches or a cane. My gait is coming back, and I am exercising using the routine I was taught while in the hospital. I am completely free of medication, and foresee a time in the near future when I will be able to once again take up long-distance bicycling and walks on the beach. Dr. Malhan’s skill as a surgeon has made this possible, and his minimally-invasive techniques have definitely aided in the speed at which my recovery has progressed.

So here is the bottom line. My being a patient in Fortis Hospital was a good decision, a smart financial decision, and from a surgical standpoint, a very wise decision. My room was big and clean, the care I received was very good, the food was absolutely great, and the physical therapy I received was specific to my needs, intense but not overbearing, to which I also attribute in large part my very rapid recovery (they claim the Physiotherapy Department as ‘World Class’ – I can attest their skills truly make them such).

Anyone who is considering joint resurfacing or replacement should seriously consider the many advantages of having Healthbase as their medical tourism facilitator. In addition, I highly recommend the staff at Fortis Hospital in Mumbai, India, and especially Dr. Kaushal Malhan, whose world-renowned surgical expertise continues to create successful outcomes in patients such as myself.

Thanks Healthbase!

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Medical tourism, which is the practice of traveling from one place to another for medical care, is no longer limited to patients seeking conventional treatments such as hip resurfacing, spine fusion, knee replacement, heart bypass, lap band, cosmetic surgeries, or dental treatments. Today, many are going overseas to seek “unconventional” medical tourism treatments such as those for cancer.

Cancer patients may be driven abroad by low prices but what remains the prime motivator is the easy accessibility to the latest technology at overseas cancer hospitals.

COMPARING THE US AND ABROAD
Without a doubt USA is the pioneer of the latest medical technologies and the country invests heavily in cancer researches. Such developments have provided remedies for previously irremediable diseases, thereby prolonging and improving the lives of the critically ill. However, these advancements remain beyond the means of those who lack health insurance, simply because of the price tag at which they come, in the US anyway.

But, in India or Singapore or Turkey, for instance, not only are the same state-of-the-art technologies being used, the treatments are offered at a much lesser price making them accessible to a greater part of the populace. It is not uncommon, therefore, to see surgeons in Asia working behind the gamma knife or the CyberKnife or the da Vinci robotic surgical system, treating patients from all over the world and offering their services at a much discounted rate as compared with US rates.

COMMON CANCERS AND THEIR TREATMENTS OVERSEAS
Cancer hospitals abroad treat all types of cancers. Though most types of cancers are suitable for overseas treatment, a patient’s candidacy can only be decided on an individual basis. The more common ones that patients go abroad to cure are prostate cancer, breast cancer and thyroid cancer.

There are several types of cancer therapies available today. Some of them are: surgery, radiotherapy (RT), chemotherapy, palliative therapy, etc. The specific treatment plan designed by the foreign doctor will depend on: (1) the type of cancer, (2) its stage, (3) whether it has metastasized to other parts of the body, (4) the patient’s overall physical health, and so on. The doctor may decide to give a combination of various types of therapies to increase the effectiveness of the treatment.

Following are some examples of cancer treatments given abroad to remove the cancer from the body and to treat the symptoms of the disease:
(1) Surgical resection of the affected organ followed by radiotherapy or chemotherapy to remove any remaining cancer cells.
(2) Depending on distant metastases state and the pathology report, the doctor might use palliative or aggressive radiation therapy.
(3) A high dose IMRT of primary and lymph nodes (LNs).

ISSUES WITH SEEKING CANCER TREATMENT ABROAD
As is well known, the quality of care offered abroad is on par with what is available in the United States. So the treatment quality is not a concern. But what might be of concern is the duration of the treatment.

When you go overseas for a surgery such as a hip resurfacing or a heart surgery, you usually need to spend no more than 2 to 3 weeks in the host country. That’s true for most of the procedures you seek abroad. But in the case of cancer treatment, the duration of the treatment is a big concern. The treatment plan that the oncologist or the doctor designs can run over a period of several months. This means longer stays for the international patient and his companion which in turn translates to higher expenditure on accommodation. To resolve this and to generate more savings, Healthbase recommends seeking long-term accommodation in service apartments instead of hotels as the former cost much less.

Even with higher expenses on accommodation factored into the cost, the resulting savings on treating cancer abroad can amount to approximately 40-80% when compared with the cost of treatment in the United States. For an accurate cost estimate and arrangement of cancer treatment abroad, check out the Healthbase website.