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Medical/ Health tourism in Thailand: Cures in the land of smiles

Thailand, the land of smiles, is not only attracting tourists to its beautiful beaches but is also becoming a top destination for health / medical tourism. The promotion of Thailand a medical tourism hub in Asia (fiercely competing with other countries like Singapore, Indonesia, India & Malaysia) is a certainly a smart move by a country that is aiming to cash in on its reputation as one of the most popular tourist destinations. An increasing number of Americans are looking at Thailand as the ideal destination for medical and health care services. Statistics indicate that Bumrungrad Hospital in Thailand (reputed to be one of Thailand's top private hospitals) has treated more than 50,000 American patients in 2005.

Some of the factors that have helped placed medical tourism in Thailand on the world map are listed below:

  • World class facilities: Health care companies that are targeting the medical tourism market have created world class facilities in health and medical care. The medical equipment, technology and medications offered meet global standards. Moreover, most hospitals possess international accreditation which is often the stamp of approval on the high quality standards that are consistently met by these health care providers. For example, the Bumrungrad Hospital in Thailand is considered among the top international hospitals in the world, as reported by CBS. With state of the art technology and communications, patients can get a lot of their pre-treatment and diagnostic consultancy from any part of the world as well as continue with post-treatment consultancy remotely.

  • Easy and quick access: With shorter waiting time and easy procedures to get started, patients spend considerably shorter durations in treatments as compared to similar services in their own countries.

  • World class medical personnel: Most doctors possess international training and certification from reputed western medical schools. They also speak English fluently thus eliminating concerns related to language and communication. Not only that, most of these medical tourism-based health care providers have in-house language interpreters to completely eliminate any linguistic problems.

  • Word of mouth publicity: Those who have already experienced quality health care services in Thailand have contributed significantly to publicizing these services and getting others to couple their medical treatments with tourism in Thailand. The contribution of this kind of 'viral marketing' to Thailand's medical tourism sector cannot be underestimated; and to their credit, the concerned folks in the country have made constant efforts to ensure that there is always such a positive buzz about these services.

  • Thailand's intrinsic tourist appeal: Undoubtedly, one of the key drivers of the international medical tourism boom in Thailand has been its inimitable lure as a haven for the international traveler. Apart from first rate medical services, visitors will get more than an ample of the best of everything Thailand has to offer: beautiful sights, adventure sports, beaches and beach resorts, shopping, relaxation and the incomparable Thai cuisine.

Top hospitals in Thailand promoting health tourism

The Bumrungrad Hospital
Located in the country's capital, Bangkok, Bumrungrad Hospital has built a strong reputation for itself. The hospital looks more like a five star hotel accompanied by state of the art medical expertise.

  • Easy access to specialists and short waiting periods. A walk- in patient is likely to meet a specialist in about 17 minutes.

  • The only hospital to be accredited by the Joint Commission International, America in Asia and Thailand.

  • Has appeared in CBS 60 minutes as a hotspot in medical tourism.

  • Has been listed among the top 10 international health care destinations by Newsweek magazine in October 2006.

  • Treated more than 400,000 foreign patients from 150 nations, a record number when compared to any other hospital in the world.

  • Some facilities and amenities include: visa extension counters, language interpreters, 123 hotel-styled rooms and suites, one-stop service centre for international patients, valet parking etc. International food & beverage chains like Starbucks & McDonalds also have a presence within the premises.

  • Limousine pick up for patients from airport to the hospital.

The Bangkok Hospital
This hospital was formerly known as Bangkok General Hospital and provides medical facilities that meet international standards. Other highlights of this hospital are:

  • Featured in Forbes list of Asia-Pacific's 200 best companies.

  • Includes facilities and amenities such as: personal nurse call system, economy rooms and royal suites, adjoining quarters for family members, in room internet access, translators, cafeteria, in house food stand and market, coffee corner etc.

The BNH Hospital
Formerly known as the Bangkok Nursing Home (BNH), the BNH Hospital is an extremely popular choice among medical tourists. They offer world class facilities and a range of medical and health care treatments. Other features of this hospital include:

  • Thailand's only specialized spine care center and the FDA-approved artificial disk replacement surgery.

  • International Department, a department oriented to resolve all issues for foreign patients from visa extensions to insurance claims.

  • Multi-lingual staff ensures there are no barriers in communication

Though medical tourism is an economically attractive option, one also needs to consider the risks associated with such travel. Some of these factors are listed below:

  • One needs to be wary of the fact that most countries promoting medical tourism do not have stringent malpractice laws. It may therefore not be easy for foreigners to deal with the local legal procedures in the event of some legal disputes arising.

  • The patient has to pay medical expenses in cash because basic medical insurance or extended medical insurance may not pay for the medical procedures.

  • While modern communication has made it simpler for the patients to be constantly in touch with their overseas doctors, patients may have to seek help from local medical practitioners or specialists in case some unforeseen complications arise after the patient has left the country. This may prove to be more expensive.

Check out some of the top hotels in Thailand

Accor Hotels
Bangkok, Cha am, Chiang Mai, Chonburi, Hat Yai, Hua Hin , Khon Kaen, Krabi, Pattaya, Phuket and Rayong.

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