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  • Mary Schreiber Swenson Phd.

Travel for Treatment and the Importance of a Second Opinion

While receiving a second opinion is touted as a vital practice throughout an individual’s medical journey, many consumers across the world, burdened by the lack of transparency of their country’s internal healthcare systems, are unable to receive said second opinion without jumping through hoops and wading through massive red tape. As such, many consumers in nations like the United States simply accept the first medical advice offered to them, trusting the physician their insurance matched them with rather than seeking secondary counsel, a course of action directly tied to the system itself.

This can have undue effects on the outcome of a treatment, as a secondary doctor can pick up on something the primary physician misses, or recommend a different form of treatment that could have additional benefits. By staying in-network without questioning the status quo, patients can actually do their health more harm than good in the long run by picking a course of treatment that may not give them the results or outcome they’re looking for.

Enter medical tourism, the act of traveling to foreign countries to receive medical care – oftentimes at a fraction of the price to a patient’s native nation. With access to the international community's top doctors, technology, and facilities, travel for treatment and medical tourism are becoming bountiful opportunities for consumers not just to have procedures performed, but to receive a second opinion from doctors with a fresh, unbridled perspective.

For the U.S. consumer, rather than being constricted to medical advice given within the confines of the teachings of U.S. medical schools, a patient increasing their care queries onto an international basis allows these consumers to consider adopting treatments using emerging technology or state-of-the-art methodology not yet approved for use in the United States, or even have better access to pre-existing tech that’s not as widely implemented throughout a patient’s native country.

Japan, for example, boasts 111 Computed tomography (CT) scanners for every million residents as per the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s 2020 figures; the United States, in stark contrast, only offers 42 CT scanners per million inhabitants. On the same note, Japan likewise possesses three of the world’s six tumor-treating carbon ion radiotherapy facilities, while the United States hosts zero within its borders as of 2021.

Utilizing medical tourism for a second opinion allows patients to adequately understand global pricing diversities, potentially obtain a correct diagnosis, and target the exact region of expertise they’d like to visit for treatments necessary to their unique requisites.

When harnessed correctly, travel for treatment helps provide international consumers quality and cost-efficient care that would otherwise be inaccessible to them within the United States or in some of the other opaque and expensive health care systems around the world, similarly offering patients innovative and modern international medical solutions they’d otherwise never have the opportunity to explore. And with consumer-friendly medical tourism agencies like MyMedChoices making it easier than ever to facilitate an international procedure or procure a second opinion, expect traveling for treatment (and opinions!) to continue growing its steadfast presence throughout the global medical community.

Mary Schreiber Swenson, PHD

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