Category: General Guide

Medical Tourism in Thailand

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Thailand, India, and Singapore together cater to almost 90% of the medical tourists seeking healthcare in Asia. There are more than 900 physicians and surgeons practicing various specialitites and super-specialities, with about 300 doctors that are US board certified in Bangkok alone. Thailand has around 32 JCI accredited hospitals. In fact, the first hospital to get JCI accredited in Asia was from Thailand. Most hospitals here also hold ISO certifications.


Medical tourism in Thailand

Thailand, India, and Singapore together cater to almost 90% of the medical tourists seeking healthcare in Asia. Nearly 1 million medical tourists enter Thailand annually to combine medical treatments with travel and vacation. Thailand, just like its counterparts in Asia is fast gaining a reputation for medical facilities at par with international standards and quality services at low costs. Patients crossing international borders for medical treatments in Thailand get services in compliance with international standards with a sunny vacation thrown in at prices that are 60-70% lower than what they would have spent in the US, UK, or Canada. As a result, the country received around 2.5 million medical tourists in 2012 alone. Thailand’s reputation for attentive, smooth, and quality services in both tourism and healthcare has made its capital city of Bangkok the hotspot of medical tourism in Asia. Given that the medical tourism sector here is growing at a 16% rate annually, a whooping profit of 100 million baht is expected by 2015. The Thai government and the health ministry have been working together to provide its citizens with advantageous health programs, besides promoting scientific based education in health. Patients visit Thailand for cosmetic surgeries, orthopedic surgery, IVF and other fertility treatments, cardiology, spine surgery, and dentistry, although it usually catches media attention for its transgender surgeries. It is also famous for the many spa treatments, such as therapeutic massages, holistic treatments, and alternative therapies.

 

Top Destinations:

Bangkok is the capital of Thailand and also the hub of medical tourism in Asia. Phuket is another destination that pulls in a large number of medical tourists. Apart from these two cities there are few more that may cater to medical tourists; however, Bangkok is the most sought after destination here.

 

Safety and credentials:

There are more than 900 physicians and surgeons practicing various specialitites and super-specialities, with about 300 doctors that are US board certified in Bangkok alone. Thailand has around 32 JCI accredited hospitals. In fact, the first hospital to get JCI accredited in Asia was from Thailand. Most hospitals here also hold ISO certifications.

The consortium of Thai medical schools and the Thai ministry of public health, work together to constantly review developments, latest treads, and new innovations in the medical field.  On the basis of the recommendations of these organizations, the necessary changes are incorporated into the medical education system every 5-7 years. There are around 12 medical colleges in Thailand currently, with another 7 expected to begin within the next five years. These institutes conduct 5 and 6 year medical training programs. To enter such a program one needs to have a basic bachelor’s degree. This medical training is followed by 3 years of compulsory service in government hospitals. Doctors are allowed to enter private practice or enter residency programs of their choice after the completion of their mandatory three year service. Thailand has more than 50 residency programs that range between 3 and 4 years each. After the completion of the residency program a doctor is conferred the postgraduate MD/MS degree.

So, getting a medical procedure in Thailand should be pretty safe considering the quality of medical education and services. However, check the credentials of your doctors and hospitals before you take your pick.

 

Legal issues:

The surrogacy laws in Thailand aren’t very clear. However, the Thai government has proposed certain amendments to legalize surrogacy in the country. The Assisted Reproductive Technologies Bill, bill number 167/2553, passed in the Thai cabinet in May 2010 is one of their attempts to help protect the rights of the surrogate mothers and couples seeking assisted reproduction facilities in the country. As for medical malpractice, the same issues of jurisdiction and legal loopholes may arise in Thailand too, similar to other countries providing such medical tourism services.

 

Cost of treatments in Thailand:

Procedure

Cost in $

(1USD=31.95Thai Baht)

In vitro fertilization

$9,091

Heart Bypass

$15,121

Heart valve replacement

$21,212

Angioplasty

$3,788

Hip replacement

$7,879

Knee Replacement

$12,297

Dental Implants

$3,636

Lasik (both eyes)

$1,818

Breast Implants

$2,727

Rhinoplasty

$3,901

Face Lift

$3,697

Gastric Bypass

$16,667

Tummy Tuck

$5,000

Liposuction

$2,303

 

How do you get there?

Thailand offers 15-30 days tourist on-arrival visas. These visas can be easily extended if required. International patients can also get a 90 day non-immigrant medical visa. However, citizens of the GCC countries such as, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE, and Saudi Arabia stay in Thailand for 90 days without a visa. It’s still recommended that you visit a Thai embassy or consulate in your city/country to obtain appropriate visa information. You may also check the following link to gain accurate visa information to enter Thailand.  

 

Some general tips:

Currency: Thai Baht

Language: Siamese is the official and national language of Thailand. However, the Doctors, nurses, and paramedic staff in the medical facilities generally can converse well in English. The major Thai hospitals and clinics also provide interpreters in most languages.

Cuisine:  The flavor of lemon grass is usually typically associated with Thai cooking. However, the Thai cuisine mixes many more flavors together such as, sweet, sour, salty, spicy, and bitter resulting in delightful and sumptuous dishes. You may try the traditional Thai dishes or take advantage of the international gourmet restaurants of your choice. However, refrain from buying or consuming food from street stalls and vendors, as you are likely to contract infections from such food. You may also want to buy and drink only bottled or mineral water during your stay in Thailand.

Accommodation: The Thai hotels are much cheaper than most Asian destinations. You could take your pick from the many hotels that range between $50 and $200 per night. You could select your accommodations depending on your requirements and budget. You may also take advantage of the many Thai luxury spas.

Climate: The climate in Thailand is mainly tropical and is humid most of the time. Thailand is hottest during April and May, and June is the beginning of its monsoons that continue up to October. November to February is pleasant and the best time to visit Thailand. It is also the tourist season due to the agreeable weather at this time.  

Tourist sites: Nature enthusiasts may want to visit Kanchanaburi, where one can raft down the stream taking in enchanting natural scenery. You could also visit Saraburi to get a glimpse of Buddha’s footsteps. Pattaya and the Phi Phi islands offer various beaches and some fun under the sun for those interested in lounging along the beach. You may also visit Ronung for its many mineral springs and enchanting coral reefs with colorful fishes. Bangkok offers many options for tourists and shopper alike too.

 

Tags: thailand, medical tourism, asia, JCI hospitals




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