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Medical Tourism in Thailand – Prasan

1. Medical Tourism in Thailand
Introduction

Health travel, once a luxury of only the rich, can now be enjoyed by virtually all. In the days of yesteryear, hardly anyone even pondered the possibilities of going abroad to a distant foreign land to have treatment. But now, with the advent of the world becoming the one and only global village, millions are crossing international datelines in hope of achieving a ‘better new life’.

One of those countries which have sprung to life as a destination for medical treatment is the south-east Asian country of Thailand. Unlike most Western countries, the cost of private medical treatment is cost-effective where hospitals do not charge a bomb. Contrary to popular belief, the standards in Thailand are of an extremely high international standard where many of the health workers have graduated in developed Western countries. Looking at it straight on, the reality is – Thailand can offer the patient the same kind of treatment as back home while enabling him or her to enjoy the holiday of a life time. The uptrend of medical tourism in Thailand is escalating to meteoric heights.

History

Thailand’s first hospital was founded during the reign of King Chulalongkorn and the Medical Association of Thailand was established in 1921.

Prince Mahidol, the father of the present king Bhumibol, has much to do with developing medical schools in Thailand and goes down in Thai history as ‘The Father of Modern Thai medicine’. Prince Mahidol realized the importance of bringing Western standard medical practice to Siam and so helped fund many of Thailand’s doctors and nurses to go abroad to further their studies at institutes such as Harvard and MIT in the United States. And it was those health workers who planted and later sowed the seeds of a world-class medical network in Thailand.

Latest Situation

Westerners are currently arriving in Thailand, the Land of Smiles, in exhilarating numbers to undergo medical treatments at a fraction of the cost as that charged in their home countries.

On top of having treatments conducted by highly trained and skilled doctors, patients can also enjoy a marvelous holiday in one of Asia’s prime tourist destinations. Many of the country’s hospitals are now globally renowned for their expertise. They include Bumrungrad Hospital, Bangkok General Hospital, Samitivej Hospital and Bangkok Nursing Home Hospital.

Figures and Statistics

Thailand as a destination for medical treatment has rocketed in recent years and they have the statistics to prove it. Take just one country like the United Arab Emirates for example – over 60,000 of their citizens a year come to Thailand to enjoy treatment. Two of the Thailand’s top hospitals Bumrungrad and Samitivej treat patients of whom 40% are foreign – this kind of high percentage is quite phenomenal.

According to the Kasikorn Research Centre, 2005 alone attracted an unprecedented 1.28 million foreign medical travelers which generated revenue of 33 billion baht. That means therefore, that on average each patient spent 25,800 baht for their treatments. It was revealed in an article in Newsweek in 2006 that 400,000 foreign patients were treated at just Bumrungrad hospital in Bangkok. This prestigious world-class hospital has an outpatient capacity of 6,000 patients per day.

Thailand presently has a free universal health program for its citizens with more than 600 hospitals and 400 medical facilities. Today, Thailand has proudly become a medical hub for patients from the United States, Europe, the surrounding countries, and the Middle East.

2. Why Thailand / Reasons to chose Thailand as the medical destination
Introduction

There is no single reason why so many folk come to Thailand to receive medical treatment. Not only is Thailand a superb destination for stunning beaches, islands, mountains, modern infrastructure, cuisines, low costs and friendly people, there are other reasons too.

Some of the Best Hospitals in the World:Thailand has, over the years, spent furtively in developing its medical tourism infrastructure and established over 30 English speaking hospitals, innumerable dentistry clinics and other alternative healing centers. Some are accredited to prestigious boards including the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations and the International Organization for Standardization.

Incredible Service:It is no joke when Westerners write on the Internet or chat in bars that the service, look and ambiance of Thailand’s hospitals is similar to that of a five-star hotel. The treatment received from doctors, nurses, orderlies, administrators, and technicians is outstanding and the doctor patient ratio is as low as 1:4.

Extra-ordinary value for money:Foreign patients can expect to pay just 10-50% for the cost of treatment, in comparison to what they would pay back home. The likes of hip surgeries, teeth whitening, face lifts, x-rays, mastectomies, and heart bypasses can all be performed at very affordable prices. With the money they save they can enjoy a memorable holiday and even go back home with cash leftover.

Unique Procedures:Many hospitals are offering treatments which are virtually unheard of elsewhere.

Excellent Long-lasting Outcome:Some of Thailand hospitals have been recognized for performing outstanding treatments for several procedures while producing excellent outcome with long lasting effects.

Thailand is Amazing for Relaxing: After treatment, patients can experience spas and resorts which are universally famous for exceptional service and comfort, while looking over beautiful virgin beaches or remote mountains. 

International Health Care System

Thailand top hospitals provide prompt and complete response in any emergency situation and are recognized outside of Thailand as having standards equivalent to that of those in the West.

Foreign Patients: The renowned Bumrungrad Hospital in Bangkok attracts on average 400,000 foreign patients per year or an average of 1,000+ a day. Other hospitals too, such as Samitivej also specialize in serving foreigners.

Regulatory Agency: Private hospitals in Thailand are accredited by the government according to standards that meet or exceed those in North America. Only four countries in the world – the United States, Canada, Australia, and Thailand – require private hospitals to meet rigorous medical and healthcare standards and be duly accredited as achieving those standards.

International Accreditation

The standard of treatment in Thailand is considered in North America of being one of the highest in the world with most of their doctors holding US professional certification. Many of the hospitals have international JCAHO accreditation; this is an organization which is the primary inspector of hospitals, nursing homes and other medical institutions in the US.

All of Thailand’s hospitals have to be licensed by the Health Ministry and the same applies to the doctors. In fact, some of the hospitals in Thailand have accreditation from Western medical associations. Most of the country’s major hospitals also have achieved other accreditation being the International Standards Organization’s ISO 9001:2000 accreditation.

Many of the doctors in Thailand have graduated and trained in Europe and the US and hold medical credentials form there. The hospitals also have working relations with Western hospitals. The UK Foreign and Common Wealth Office verifies that Bangkok has “Excellent International Hospitals” and the US State Department has stated that Bangkok also offers “Excellent facilities exist for routine long-term and emergency healthcare.

Technology

The most up-to-date state of the art developments and technologies have been introduced in Thailand to enhance medical facilities and treatment. They include:

– DSA (Digital Subtraction Angiography),
– Digital Mammogram allowing accurate diagnosis and early discovery of cancer in women.
– Green light PVP Laser for ProstateTreatmernt to precisely target prostate tissue with a high powered laser beam.
– PET/CT Scanner (Position Emission Tomography / Computed Tomography Scanner) assist in the earliest detection of cancers and assess heart muscle viability for the evaluation of functional brain anatomy.
– Novalis Shaped Beam Surgery System Installed and Operating helps applies doses of radiation, allowing it to destroy diseased tissue or cauterize a problem area without affecting healthy adjacent tissue. Other treatments are cancerous tumors, arteriovenous, malformations and Parkinson’s disease.
– 4D Ultrasound creates a motion life-like picture with the speed of 25 volumes per second.
– magnetic Resonance Imageing (MRI – Intra Achiva 3.0T MRI) allows the detailed information necessary to detect blood circulation abnormalities and is particularly useful in the early detection of brain cancer.
– Gamma Knife Surgery makes non-invasive brain surgery possible by applying hihgly targeted gamma radiation to the treatment of tumors, arteriovenous malformations of the brain and functional disorders.
– IMRT (Intensity Modulated Radiotherapy) focuses radiation doses on tumors without damaging the surrounding tissue.
– Minimal Invasive Heart Surgery, the da Vinci Surgical System uses robotics to translate the surgeon’s natural hand movements into the micro movements of a robotic arm. The surgeon is able to apply less invasive incisions with unprecedented precision, lowering risk, accelerating recovery, and greatly reducing scarring.

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