Going abroad for a hip replacement may seem like a huge step for a hip replacement patient but if you want to cut costs or jump to the front of the queue it’s something definitely worth considering.
With high quality care available in countries as diverse as Belgium, Mexico, Thailand, Poland and India there is bound to be somewhere close by that suits your budget and…. choice of holiday location. Holiday location? Yes that’s right, because combining surgery with a few days (or even weeks!) rest and recuperation is definitely the way the market is heading.
Interested? Then check out the top ten tips for selecting a destination that will be perfect for you.
- Cost – let price inform your decision but don’t let it over-ride the most important factor – the standard of clinical care. How experienced is your surgeon? How clean is the clinic? Remember to add in the cost of travel, post-operative stay and physiotherapy. You will probably also want a friend to travel with you. Sounds expensive I know but you will be amazed that even with all those extras you can make a substantial saving compared to having the operation done in the USA.
- Expertise – don’t be fooled into thinking that overseas means second rate. Most of the surgeons operating on patients from abroad have themselves been trained in the US or UK. They are well respected both in their home country and in the country they trained.
- Research – do your own research. You must put some effort into this – just as you should if you were having surgery at home. Look at both the surgeon (how many hip replacements has he done? What is his revision rate? Is he familiar with the specific procedure you want?) and the clinic (MRSA rate? Post-op infection rate?). What you want is a great surgeon working with a fabulous team.
- Destination – don’t be tempted to go too far unless you’re time rich. The further you fly out the longer you will have to wait to fly back. Great if you’ve got the time to spend soaking up the sun on some foreign beach.
- Comfort – many of the hospitals catering for overseas patients are absolutely first class when it comes to accommodation and care. If you have any particular dietary requirements or allergies let them know before hand so they can make suitable arrangements. Let yourself be pampered – book a course of massage or aromatherapy – all in aid of your speedy recovery of course.
- Holiday – do combine your surgery with a holiday. Staying longer in the country will allow you to be near your surgeon, take advantage of low cost physiotherapy and have a relaxing break. I’d much rather be doing my exercises on a sun-drenched beach – wouldn’t you?
- Insurance – do make sure you are adequately insured. Most hip replacements go very smoothly but if something does go wrong months later how will you get it fixed? With good insurance you can put those worries away. There’s a new breed of travel/medical insurance available specifically tailored for people undergoing surgical procedures overseas.
- Satisfaction – ask to speak to other patients who have completed their treatment. Yes you’ll only be referred to the satisfied ones but you can still learn a lot from them. In addition do a Google search to see what people have said about the surgeon/clinic.
- Packages – most of the big clinics are now set up to offer all-inclusive package deals. A good package will include pre-assessment in your own country, flights, transfers, surgery (and all associated costs), physiotherapy and a week or twos holiday and recuperation time in a nearby hotel.
- Tell others – the best way to learn about a good place to have hip surgery overseas is by word-of-mouth. It’s still a relatively new market and there isn’t a lot of information from a patient’s perspective on the internet yet. So once you’re back home why not share your story with others.
Some Final Thoughts
With longer lasting implants and changes in surgical procedures hip replacement surgery is being offered to a wider group of patients than ever before. How this will impact on our already frail health services is difficult to assess but it would be reasonable to believe that queue will grow longer – much longer.
No one should have to endure unnecessary pain and impaired mobility for any longer than is absolutely necessary but if all that is on offer in your home country is the choice of a long waiting list or a huge bill than considering a hip replacement overseas must be the right choice.