Expect the unexpected

Updated: May 6

What my podcast and medical tourism have in common




Watch the video here or listen to the podcast here. The year started off great. And then…the pandemic completely blindsided all of us. Once the craziness of travel cancellations, credits, and refunds had passed, I found myself without a clientele to serve, no trips to book on the near horizon.


After redesigning my website and catching up on some online trainings, the unexpected idea came: I would start a PODCAST. What?! One of the online trainings I had taken coached on how to start one. So that’s how I scraped up my courage and started videoing and recording on a bi-weekly basis. Fast forward to now: this week is my 23rd episode. Wow.



I’m sure we’ve all found ourselves suddenly starting, or looking into, or researching something that we hadn’t ever, EVER, thought we would be doing. Something we wouldn’t have expected ourselves to be part of.


One wellness travel topic that may be completely unexpected for you to consider is medical tourism. What is it? Why is it a thing? Read on for an overview of what it is, how it’s affected by the pandemic, and some highlights of the top destinations.


What is medical tourism?


Medical tourism, also known as healthcare tourism, is when people travel to another country for medical treatment, and in the process, have an opportunity to get to know the location better. When medical tourism originally started, patients from less-developed countries would travel to more-developed countries to get medical treatments not available at their home. Today, people from developed countries often travel to developing countries all over the world to get treatments.




Why do people travel to other countries for medical treatment?


The highest percentage of medical travelers are seeking the most advanced medical technology. Others want better-quality care for their necessary procedures, some are looking for quicker access to their procedures (avoiding long wait times), and many others want lower-cost care for medically necessary or voluntary procedures.


But the top-cited reason for traveling to a foreign country to receive medical treatment is lower costs.


What type of medical treatments do people get?


Common procedures include orthopedic procedures, heart bypass and heart valve replacement surgery, hip or knee replacements, hysterectomies, spinal fusions, and cosmetic dental surgeries such as crowns, implants, root canals, and veneers.


How is the pandemic affecting medical tourism?


Like every other aspect of life, medical tourism is affected by the coronavirus restrictions. Numbers are down right now; more than 200,000 scheduled nonessentntial surgeries were postponed in 2020 due to the virus. Many essential surgeries are still occurring, especially in countries like Mexico, whose borders have never been closed to Americans. However, the medical tourism field is looking forward to foreign borders re-opening like the rest of us!


Why am I talking about this?


Obviously, the “medical” part of medical tourism is between you and the medical professionals. I have some contacts in the medical tourism field and can hook you up with a medical facilitator and offer medical tourism insurance. But really, my job is to help with that pre- or post-surgery relaxation and sightseeing, as you enjoy your time away from home and connect with the sightseeing opportunities in your home-away-from-home.


I can help you arrange a beautiful, comfortable hotel, condo, or villa, perfect for your relaxation. I’d love to book excursions and experiences either before or after your treatment. Remember, though, that if you’re recovering from a surgery, your stitches may not be able to get wet, and you may feel more like sleeping in that oh-so-comfortable bed, rather than running around to see the sights. So maybe you’d prefer a combination of pre- and post-surgery accommodations and amenities.


Where are the top medical tourism destinations?


Thailand is the #1 medical tourism destination in the world, known for othopedics, oncology, plastic surgery, dentristry, and opthamology. Some other top destinations include India (known for transplants, oncology, cardiac surgery, and gastroenterology); Germany (known for oncology, cardiac surgery, neurosurgery, orthopedics, and onco-hematology); Taiwan (known for cardiac diseases, orthopedics, and liver transplants); Brazil (known for cosmetic and plastic surgery); and Costa Rica (known for dentistry, cosmetic surgery, eye surgery, cancer therapy, and bariatric surgery).



Where you could stay


I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t tell you about some great places to stay while traveling abroad for a medical treatment! Here are some suggestions for the top destinations:


Thailand


The Raweekanlaya Bangkok is a local gem, with 38 carefully-designed guest rooms which reflect the heritage of Old Siam. Built in the late 1800’s, this beautiful property includes an outdoor pool, pool bar, lush greenery, and the Raweekanlaya Dining, an authentic Thai restaurant using natural ingredients such as organic brown rice, sea salt and seasonal organic produce from local small-scale farmers. Your stay is completed by a unique Thai poem dedicated to each room.



Berlin, Germany


The Hotel am Steinplatz has beautiful architecture and a fantastic location near the Tiergarten, Potsdamer Platz and the Berlin Zoo. High-speed Wi-Fi and luxury bedding are standard. The hotel includes breakfast daily, a fitness center, and a rooftop spa. The Restaurant am Steinplatz serves breakfast, lunch and dinner with culinary German flair, and the Bar am Steinplatz has twice been named “hotel bar of the year.”





Taiwan


The Mandarin Oriental Taipei is a luxury 5-star property in the heart of the city. Their Mandarin suite includes a king bed, large walk-in closet, and a separate living and dining room next to a private entertainment suite. The marble bathroom features a huge bath and circular-experience shower. The resort offers many dining choices, both day and night, and one of the most luxurious spas in Taipei. They also provide an essential guide to must-do things in Taipei, including the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, restaurants, and shopping.



Brazil


The Hilton Rio de Janeiro Copacabana is right on a gorgeous beach, and steps from the Rio Sul Shopping Mall. It has an outside pool overlooking the beach, a restaurant, lobby bar and poolside bar, fitness center, and beachside service at the Copacabana waterfront. The room includes a comfortable bed, mini bar, safe and granite bathroom. You will love this luxurious hotel on a relaxing beach.



Costa Rica


Set on Papagayo Bay along the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, Secrets Papagayo Costa Rica sits on a black volcanic sand beach surrounded by lush mountains. This oceanfront all-inclusive resort boasts six restaurants and five bars (with all of your meals and drinks included), nonmotorized watersports, a tennis court, fitness center, spa, and beautiful beach and pools. Your time here will be a true relaxing getaway.


Conclusion


Expect the unexpected. Isn’t that our motto now that we’ve lived through 2020?


I hope you’re a little more informed about medical tourism now. If it’s a little unexpected today, I understand. That’s how I felt when I started my podcast. It was completely unexpected for me for to begin podcasting in June 2020. I’ve never been very comfortable in front of a camera, and yet here I am, producing a new episode every two weeks.


If you haven’t checked out the audio or video version, give it a try. It might be an unexpected pleasure.