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Experts encourage Britain’s NHS to consider medical tourism

January 16th, 2010 by Formosa Medical Travel

The British newspaper¬†The Independent reports that Britain’s National Health Service could save millions if the Department of Health considered utilizing medical tourism. “Thousands of patients waiting for operations such as hip replacements and hernia repairs could be treated more cheaply and quickly if the Government set up formal agreements” with medical tourism destinations, the report says.

Currently, the publicly-funded health service provides healthcare to all residents free 0f charge, but there has been criticism surrounding the wait times for many elective procedures. The Independent article argues that these wait times could be reduced through medical tourism, while saving a significant amount of money.

“At least ¬£120m could be saved,” says the article, “if NHS patients currently waiting for just five different operations went to India, with a companion, for treatment in an accredited hospital, according to health economists’ calculations.” India is one of many medical tourism destinations, many of which provide a quality of healthcare equal to or better than that in Britain, say experts.

Hundreds of thousands of people are already taking advantage of medical tourism on their own. Britons make up a large portion of medical tourists, as do uninsured Americans who cannot afford the high cost of many medical treatments in the United States. “The estimated number of medical tourists worldwide each year ranges from four million to 617 million,” says the Independent.

In the coming years, many expect that governments around the world will start to consider medical tourism as a solution to rising medical costs and wait lists. Developing countries such as India, Thailand, and Mexico, as well as highly-developed countries such as Singapore and Taiwan can provide many medical procedures for a fraction of the cost in Britain and the United States. As populations continue to age in western countries, many expect medical tourism to experience tremendous growth.

Ontario attempting to reduce hip, knee replacement wait times

December 19th, 2009 by Formosa Medical Travel

An agency in eastern Ontario is launching an effort to bring down the long wait times for knee and hip replacement surgery in Ontario, Canada.

Currently, wait times for knee replacement and hip replacement surgery can be almost a year in many parts of eastern Ontario, compared with a provincial average of under 200 days. To help reduce this wait time, the Champlain Local Health Integration Network plans to launch a “Regional Hip and Knee Replacement Program” in early 2010, which is aimed at improving the quality of care offered to residents of the region. ¬†”The idea is to try and reduce wait times” and “improve efficiencies,” said Dr. John Gordon, the lead physician for the program.

Wait times are a common theme for patients with debilitating osteoarthritis. While some methods are available to delay the need for knee replacement and hip replacement surgery, most patients with severe osteoarthritis of the hip or knee must, sooner or later, pursue joint replacement surgery to treat the problem. The long waiting lists in many parts of Canada require many patients to suffer pain and reduced mobility in the months leading up to surgery.

There are concerns that, if the United States adopts a healthcare system similar to that in Canada, there will be similar issues related to waiting lists. Since osteoarthritis is not considered a life-threatening condition, joint replacement surgery is often put off until it has reached a very advanced stage, which has large implications for the quality of life of those afflicted by osteoarthritis.

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