Israeli Medical Tourism Association (IMTA) (part1)
Medical tourism and the need for its regulation
Israeli Medical Tourism AssociationMedical tourism is not so much a popular tourism destination as medicine, which allows foreign patients to choose the country and clinic that best suits their needs for their treatment. It is no secret that not all countries have equal opportunities in terms of health care, even among economically developed countries there are leaders and outsiders, and there are leaders in certain areas – for example, cancer treatment in Israel is very popular, since this country is one of the world leaders in oncology. However, everything has a flip side, and the great demand for Israeli clinics has led to the emergence of many unscrupulous one-day medical companies offering people in need of high-quality medical care services at inflated costs, not fully fulfilling their obligations or simply deceiving people. The activities of such companies are detrimental not only to the health and wallet of foreign patients, but also to the reputation of Israeli clinics, doctors, and the state of Israel itself.
Treatment in Israel without intermediaries
The fact that there are many unscrupulous mediators in the medical services market is no longer a secret, and therefore more and more people who need quality medical services are looking for treatment in Israel without intermediaries. This is facilitated by the opinion that by contacting the clinic directly, the patient not only reduces the risk of interacting with unscrupulous, and sometimes even frankly fraudulent companies, but can also save, as he eliminates the need to pay for intermediary services. In fact, this, at first glance, a completely logical conclusion, is erroneous. The fact is that Israeli clinics do not work directly with foreign patients. Every major Israeli hospital receives hundreds of requests from potential patients every day, some of them need advice, some need emergency care. To process these requests, the clinic would have to contain a whole staff of employees, which is very difficult. In addition, the business is not limited to processing requests and answering them – when he arrives for treatment, a foreign patient needs accompaniment, translation services, and assistance in solving everyday problems. No clinic has the opportunity to do this on its own. Therefore, hospitals enter into contracts with medical companies that perform this important work.
There are two types of intermediary companies. The first type is an intermediary who works with only one clinic, posing as its department (medical tourism department). It is clear that his task is to attract as many patients as possible to the clinic. Turning to such a company, even quite conscientious, a patient seeking, for example, cancer treatment abroad receives assurances that in this clinic he will receive the best that can only be in his position. It is possible that this is so, but there are no guarantees of this and can not be. Each clinic has its own priority areas, even inside oncology (for example, efforts are concentrated somewhere on the treatment of leukemia, and somewhere on brain tumors), so it’s not at all a fact that it is here, and not in the neighboring hospital, treatment for a particular disease is the best.
The second type of intermediary companies are those that work with several clinics, often with hundreds. Such a company, subject to a bona fide approach, really has the opportunity to choose the best for its client who wants to receive treatment abroad, and also take into account his wishes, financial situation, etc. The larger the database of such an intermediary, the greater the opportunity to choose the best option. The information possessed by intermediaries of this type is unique – who else can answer, where is the latest equipment for hemodialysis now, in which clinic is it preferable to have a bone marrow transplant for a child, and in which are the most advanced artificial insemination technologies? Where is it better to go to do plastic surgery, and where – to conduct a complex heart operation in the world? Such companies, of course, cannot be one-day ones, since collecting a database takes time and a lot of effort. Their work with clinics is legally formalized, they have a staff of competent multilingual employees, some of which necessarily have higher medical education. These companies enjoy an excellent reputation, many clients turn to them, and clinics, as a rule, provide them with priority working conditions, for example, give significant discounts to their customers. Thus, treatment in Israel will cost the patient the same amount as if he would go to the clinic directly (if it were possible). Moreover, such an intermediary company performs a significant part of the work for free: