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.

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WHAT MAKES YOUR BACK?

Anatomy of the human spine
Have you ever wondered what makes your back and neck bend, stretch and even rotate so swiftly and smoothly? These movements are possible due to the spinal column or vertebral column in your body which extends from the skull to the pelvis and is made up of 33 individual bones termed vertebrae. The vertebral column is not actually a column but is sort of a spiral spring in the form of the letter S.

The following figure illustrates the human spinal column:

Human Vertebral Column or Spinal Column

Human Vertebral Column or Spinal Column

Between each vertebra are strong connective tissues which hold one vertebra to the next, and acts as a cushion between the vertebrae. The disc allows for movements of the vertebrae and lets you bend and rotate your neck and back. The type and degree of motion varies between the different levels of the spine: cervical (neck), thoracic (chest) or lumbar (low back).

The cervical spine is a highly mobile region that permits movement in all directions. The thoracic spine is much more rigid due to the presence of ribs and is designed to protect the heart and lungs. The lumbar spine allows mostly forward and backward bending movements (flexion and extension).

 

WHAT BREAKS YOUR BACK?

Spinal osteoarthritis

Back pain

Back pain

Spinal arthritis or osteoarthritis of the spine is a common cause of back pain. It is the mechanical breakdown of the cartilage between the vertebral joints in the back portion of the spine leading to mechanically induced pain. The joints become inflamed and pain may be felt when performing even the simplest of activities like standing, sitting or walking. Over time, bone spurs – small irregular growths on the bone, also called osteophytes – typicaly form on the vertebral joints and around the spinal vertebrae which may become so large as to cause irritation or entrapment of nerves passing through spinal structures and result in spinal stenosis (diminished room for the nerves to pass).

Classification of spinal osteoarthritis

– Lower back (lumbar spine) osteoarthritis or lumbosacral arthritis, which produces stiffness and pain in the lower spine and sacroiliac joint (between the spine and the pelvis)

– Neck (cervical spine) osteoarthritis or cervical spondylosis, which causes stiffness and pain in the upper spine, neck, shoulders, arms and head.

Causes of spinal osteoarthritis

The most common causes are repetitive trauma to the spine from repetitive strains caused by accidents, surgery, sports injuries and poor posture. Other risk factors include aging, gender (more common in post-menopausal women), excess body weight, genetics, and associated diseases (like infections, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, etc.)

 

WHAT REMAKES A BROKEN BACK?

Surgical treatment of spinal arthritis

For spinal arthritis, the only effective surgical treatment is spine fusion surgery, to stop motion at the painful joint. In fusion, one or more of the vertebrae of the spine are united (fused together) using bone grafts so that motion no longer occurs between them.

Interbody Spine Fusion System

Interbody Spine Fusion System

Uses of spinal fusion surgery

Spinal fusion surgery is used to treat:

– a fractured (broken) vertebra e.g. spondylolisthesis

– deformity e.g. scoliosis or kyphosis (spinal curves or slippages)

– pain from painful motion

– instability

– some cervical disc herniations (fusion together with discectomy)

– weak or unstable spine caused by infections or tumors

For more information about spine fusion surgery, check out medical tourism for spine fusion surgery through Healthbase.

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MEDICAL OUTSOURCING

Dictionary.com defines outsourcing as “a practice used by different companies to reduce costs by transferring portions of work to outside suppliers rather than completing it internally”. The term which has been generally associated with the automobile industry was popularized during the past decade by the computer or IT industry. But when it is the health industry in question, how does outsourcing work there? What is outsourced and how?

If you are thinking it’s the drug manufacturing that is outsourced, you are wrong. Nor is it the bookkeeping that is outsourced. What is outsourced is the patient himself or rather he chooses to have his treatment done offshore. The driving cause is the high cost of health care in his home country. Or in certain other cases, the long waits before he can get the needed treatment.

So, medical outsourcing or offshore medical which is also commonly known as medical tourism is the practice of seeking health care abroad. But, who provides these outsourcing services?

There are lots of offshore health care providers in the form of hospitals and clinics participating in this business. Some of them can be found on the other side of the border while others may be a few oceans across. Examples include those in India, Singapore, Thailand, Mexico, Turkey, Panama, Costa Rica, Brazil, Argentina, Belgium, and so on. Some of them give excellent service – even superior to what you can get at home using the latest technology and by world-renowned surgeons – while others may not be as great. To show their commitment towards top quality, many providers also have international accreditations like JCI, JACHO, ISO, etc. Some have strategic alliances with well-known US health care providers like Cleveland Clinic, Harvard Medical International and Johns Hopkins.

International health care providers are able to provide you with high quality treatment at an affordable cost mainly because of low labor cost, low administrative cost, low malpractice cost and low living cost in their country. That’s the same reason why IT companies started outsourcing.

Now the obvious question arises – how do you find the right provider for your needs? The answer is do research. There are lots of resources available – news, articles, blogs, forums, testimonials, etc. Many people find it useful to work with a health tourism facilitator or medical tourism facilitator like Healthbase (http://www.healthbase.com). They are specialized facilitators who carefully screen and partner with international healthcare providers that meet up to the high standards of patients from the US, the UK, Canada, etc. They also help patients with all the logistics involved in getting a surgery abroad.

There are a few other things that you will need to do for a successful experience in getting your surgery overseas. Getting into the details of all of them is beyond the scope of this article. Here are some of them: doing a thorough research on the surgery in question to establish your suitability for it as well as for medical tourism, getting to learn about your medical travel destination, arranging all your medical records and sending them to the international hospital, securing passport and visa, booking tickets, and more. You may want to start here: http://www.healthbase.com/resources/medical-tourism/medical-tourism-information.

Earlier, people would go abroad mostly for elective cosmetic procedures which were not covered by insurances. Today, people outsource their orthopedic procedures as well as cardiac surgeries as well as organ transplants. It’s not just individuals who are interested in this trend to save money. Medical outsourcing has also received attention from health insurance companies who have started offering overseas treatment plans to expand their customer base, and from employers who have included it as a benefit to their employees.

At the time of writing this article, neither Merriam Webster nor Dictionary.com had an entry for “medical outsourcing”. But given the speed with which the trend is spreading, pretty soon they will have to update their dictionaries.

You can learn more about medical outsourcing, the details of the process, international healthcare providers and arrange your surgery by logging on to http://www.healthbase.com. Healthbase.com is a medical tourism facilitator committed to providing low-cost high quality medical travel services to the global medical consumer.

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SURGICAL TOURISM

Surgery isn’t the first or even the last thing that comes to mind when you think tourism and vice versa. As misnomered as it may sound, but surgical tourism is what is happening in the health care industry today. Surgical tourism, also known as medical tourism, medical travel, health travel and health tourism , is traveling abroad for surgery.

 

So why would someone choose to go overseas for surgery?

The number one reason is because they can get huge discounts when compared to the price tags on surgeries at home. Surgical tourists claim to have saved from 50% to over 90%. Another reason revolves around the long wait-lists in countries like Canada and UK with public health care system. Some go for elective surgeries not covered by insurance.

 

Does low cost mean poor quality?

Check out pictures of some of the international hospitals catering to foreign patients at https://www.healthbase.com/hb/pages/hospitals_pl.jsp and you will notice how immaculate their 5-star hotel type facilities are. Their accreditations include those like JCI, JCAHO and ISO. Patients vouch for the personalized service they get. It’s not uncommon to see world-renowned surgeons at these international hospitals playing finger-magic behind the latest billion-dollar robotic machines.

 

Exactly how is such a miracle possible?

Well, that’s because in some countries like India, Thailand, Singapore, Turkey, Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama and others, the cost of labor when compared to the US, UK or Canada is lower. Plus, administrative costs and malpractice costs are also lower. These are the countries that are hot surgical tourism destinations.

 

Some of the surgeries that patients go overseas for…

Range from breast augmentation to Birmingham hip resurfacing surgery , and from lap band to triple cardiac bypass surgery. And it’s not just surgeries that people seek. Some go for therapeutic treatments and others for cancer treatments. Restorative and reparative treatments like LASIK are common and so are preventive check-ups and simple dental fix-ups .

 

Where is tourism in the picture?

While the primary motivation for most surgical tourists is affordable surgery, the opportunity to visit exotic destinations is an additional draw for some. You can plan to have a holiday during your visit to the foreign country before the surgery if your health permits or after the surgery if your surgeon permits.

 

How do I go about arranging my surgery abroad?

Getting surgery overseas is not even closely related to getting surgery at your local hospital but it can save you a ton of money. However, it involves careful research and planning. Begin by collecting more information about the trend of surgical tourism. You may start here: http://www.healthbase.com/resources/medical-tourism/medical-tourism-information . Read what others are saying about it. Educate yourself about the surgery desired. Do your due diligence in researching the various international hospitals and surgeons at the surgical destination you are interested in. Compare quotes from various providers and finalize one.

Many people find it useful to work with a surgical tourism provider that helps them with all the logistics of surgical tourism. Surgical tourism providers like Healthbase (http://www.healthbase.com) connect you with the hospital of your choice while providing many other related valuable services like detailed information about various procedures, detailed hospital profiles and surgeon profiles, medical records transfer, free surgery quote, pre- and post-consultation with the overseas hospital, feedback and testimonials from previous patients, medical and dental loan financing, passport and visa, airport pick-up and drop-off, hospital escort, tickets, travel insurance, hotel booking, tourism services in the destination country, etc.

You can learn more about the growing trend of medical tourism, international healthcare facilities and surgeons, and the details of the medical tourism process by logging on to http://www.healthbase.com. Healthbase.com is a medical tourism facilitator committed to providing low-cost high quality medical travel services to the global medical consumer.

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MEDICAL TOURISM GUIDE

Today, cheap yet world-class surgeries are just a flight away. But the deluge of information available out there can overwhelm anybody. So, here is a quick guide to medical tourism to answer most of your questions about the phenomenon.

WHAT IS MEDICAL TOURISM?
Medical tourism is the process of traveling abroad to receive superior medical, dental and cosmetic care by highly skilled surgeons at some of the most modern and state-of-the-art medical facilities in the world…all at a fraction of the price in the US, UK and Canada.

MEDICAL TOURISM OFFERINGS
1. Incredible Savings: Compare a $7,000 hip resurfacing in India with a $48,000 one in the US. In general you are able to save 50% to 90%.
2. Excellent Quality: Many international providers are accredited by JCI, JCAHO and ISO or by local accrediting organizations. They have world-class facilities, have access to the latest technology and provide personalized service. If in doubt, read testimonials by patients who have experienced treatment overseas.
3. Surgeon Expertise: Most surgeons catering to international patients have either been educated or have received professional training at top schools in the US, UK or in other countries in Europe.
4. No Wait-Lists: Access to immediate service is what attracts those from countries that have public health care system towards medical tourism.
5. Longer Hospital Stay: You can have a longer hospital stay than possible in your local hospital back home under the supervision of your surgeon and physical therapist.
6. Travel Opportunities: While the primary motivation for most customers is affordable surgery, the opportunity to visit exotic destinations is an additional draw for some.

WHO SHOULD BE INTERESTED IN MEDICAL TOURISM?
In general, most medical tourists are either uninsured, underinsured or those seeking elective surgeries. Others resort to medical tourism due to the long wait-lists or unavailability of certain procedures in their country.

WHICH COUNTRIES OFFER THE BEST SERVICES?
The most popular medical travel destinations are India, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Turkey, Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica, Brazil, Belgium, and Argentina amongst others. Some of these countries are considered best for cardiac surgery, others for orthopedic surgery and yet others for plastic surgery. You should base your selection on: quality, distance and cost.

CHOOSING THE RIGHT PROVIDER
When choosing a provider, don’t get swayed by attractive packages and fancy websites. Read and watch what others are saying about the particular hospital, clinic or surgeon. Check out the facility pictures and videos. Consider the provider’s accreditation, awards and recognitions, facility and equipments, statistics like success rates, etc.

WILL MY HEALTH INSURANCE PAY FOR IT?
Insurance companies are keenly looking into medical tourism as an option though most haven’t adopted it into their plans yet. So check with your health insurer for details.

SHOULD I COMBINE “SUN, SAND, AND SEA” WITH SURGERY?
That depends.
Usually after a cosmetic surgery, you are advised not to expose your body to the sun or to sea water. But, you can always choose to enjoy them before your surgery.
With certain other medical procedures, it’s best for you to stay indoors and relax after your surgery.
In any case, you should always consult your surgeon if you have travel or tourism on your mind.

WHAT ARE MEDICAL TOURISM FACILITATORS?
Medical tourism facilitators like Healthbase are specialized facilitators that connect you with the hospital of your choice while providing all or some other valuable services like detailed information about various procedures, detailed hospital profiles and surgeon profiles, medical records transfer, free surgery quote, pre- and post-consultation with the overseas hospital, feedback and testimonials from previous patients, medical and dental loan financing, passport and visa, airport pick-up and drop-off, hospital escort, tickets, travel insurance, hotel booking, tourism services in the destination country, etc.

This medical tourism guide is just a starting step. You should do the proper required research before you fly to your medical tourism destination.

You can learn more about the growing trend of medical tourism, international healthcare facilities and surgeons and the details of the medical tourism process by logging on to http://www.healthbase.com. Healthbase.com is a medical tourism facilitator committed to providing low-cost high quality medical travel services to the global medical consumer.

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GASTRIC BYPASS SURGERY – WHAT CAN IT DO FOR YOU?

Some people have gastric bypass surgery and shed 100 pounds or more. What can this surgery do for you?

To answer this question, you will first need to know what gastric bypass surgery is and how it helps you lose weight.

A gastric bypass surgery also known as Roux en-Y surgery is a medical procedure that reduces the size of your stomach causing you to feel full when you have eaten only a small portion. What your surgeon will essentially do is divide your stomach into two sections – a small upper one and a much larger remnant one using surgical staples (which is why this procedure is also known as stomach stapling). The small top pouch is the one that will hold your food. Your surgeon will also re-arrange your small intestine such that both the stomach pouches remain connected to the intestines.

The reduction in the functional volume of your stomach reduces your food intake. Not only that, the re-arrangement of the small intestine causes food to by-pass the first part of the small intestine resulting in reduced calorie absorption. Both these factors help you lose weight.

But is gastric bypass surgery for everyone who needs to lose weight?

That’s a personal choice or your doctor may prescribe it for you. Generally, it is considered in only those individuals who have tried hard but failed to achieve weight loss through exercise and diet.

Obesity, which is a complex disease, leads to other diseases. Morbid obesity or the accumulation of too much body fat increases a person’s risk for developing other health problems or co-morbidities such as heart diseases, diabetes, etc.

But how much fat is too much fat?

That’s calculated by your body mass index or BMI which is a measure of your weight in relation to your height. In simple words, it tells you how much you should normally weigh for your height and if you exceed that normal weight then you are medically considered overweight. Reducing your weight and therefore, your BMI, helps you control the risk of developing obesity related health problems. (Use the BMI calculator to calculate your BMI.)

Like any other surgery there are risks associated with gastric bypass surgery as well. Some of the risks include gastritis (which is an inflammation of the stomach lining), development of gallstones (caused by significant weight loss in a short time), nausea, vomiting, bleeding, infections, and nutritional deficiency (which can be avoided through nutritional supplements). So, when deciding to have the surgery you should carefully weigh the risks associated with it and the problems that it can solve for you.

Variations of gastric bypass surgery are gastric bypass, Roux en-Y proximal; gastric bypass, Roux en-Y distal; and loop gastric bypass or mini-gastric bypass. Gastric bypass surgery is not the only bariatric surgery available for treating morbid obesity. Some people also consider gastric lap-band as an option.

The cost can be a major deciding factor when considering the surgery. Depending upon your specific medical conditions and insurance terms, your health insurance carrier may or may not cover the costs.

The high cost of healthcare has led some Americans to seek treatment in countries like India, Thailand, Singapore, Mexico and Turkey. This practice of going abroad, which is termed as medical tourism or medical travel or health tourism, is a way of getting low cost high quality medical care. But before you decide to outsource your health care it’s extremely important that you do your homework properly – research the facilities, the surgeons, compare the cost and quality offered by different hospitals, talk to people who have had their surgery overseas, etc.

You can learn more about the growing trend of medical tourism, gastric bypass surgery and other medical and dental procedures by logging on to http://www.healthbase.com.

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