While on a flight from Vladivostok, Russia, to Taiwan for a FAM trip, I was wondering what I might see. Would my Taiwan experience be like visiting crowded hospitals in China? Or would my visit be more like a stay at a hospital in Singapore, where the quality of medical care is high, but also unaffordable to many people?
For Russians, Taiwan is just a small country somewhere close to China, and we often don’t know that there’s a difference between them. During my trip to Taiwan, however, I discovered a country that offers enormous potential as a medical tourism destination.
Taiwan’s doors have been opened to medical travelers throughout the world. Located in the heart of Southeast Asia, most medical travelers arrive in Taiwan from China, but there is also a flow from Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, the Philippines and Africa. Today, Taiwan invests a great deal into medical tourism and widely promotes the industry, so there are patients now arriving from the United States, Russia and Europe.
For patients traveling abroad for medical procedures, language is the greatest obstacle. From my experience, most travelers start feeling uncomfortable as soon as they board the airplane. They find that the English they have spoken is much different from what they hear on the airplane or upon arrival in the foreign country.
I was surprised that upon arrival at the airport in Taiwan, I did not feel as if I was abroad. My English was easily understood by the taxi driver, who, in fact, was listening to an American pop song and singing along. Taiwan turned out to be very English-friendly. At one point, after a colleague and I got lost, we tumbled upon a small local restaurant. We decided to get some experience communicating, but a waiter spoke
Flights and accommodations in Taipei and surrounding areas are very affordable, reducing the overall cost to medical travelers.
very good conversational English and helped us to order an authentic seafood soup.
Accessibility is another advantage. Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport is well connected to most major destinations in the world and accepts many direct flights from the United States, Japan, Thailand, South Korea, China, Hong Kong and others. Visitors from countries like Canada, the United States, Australia, and the European Union can visit Taiwan without an official visa.
Besides standard medical procedures, patients can receive hypnosis, meditation, stress analysis, and art and music therapies leading to a greater physical, mental and emotional condition.
Russian patients can also easily obtain visas for medical procedures within a few days. We are expecting more patients from eastern parts of Russia will travel to Taiwan rather than Singapore, Thailand or India. Flights and accommodations in Taipei and surrounding areas are very affordable, reducing the overall cost to medical travelers. Taiwan can easily compete in the sphere of medical tourism with South Korea and Thailand, and can beat those countries by providing affordable medical procedures of high quality.
Most of my clients are usually concerned about the stability of a country. Taiwan can be definitely called a country with a visitor-friendly environment. Pleasant climate, fresh fruits and berries throughout the year measure up to comfort for foreign travelers. Unlike some other destinations for medical treatment, Taiwan is highly developed.
Tourists will not see problems associated with developing countries, such as poor sanitation, political instability, antiquated transportation systems, theft and crime. The standards of hygiene in the hospitals and surroundings are similar to those found in hospitals in Europe or the United States.
Taiwan is an Asian state with its own traditions and culture; unusual and unique in terms of medicine and healthcare, which includes a system that has evolved to be among the world’s finest. The Joint Commission International has accredited most hospitals, confirming patient safety and high quality of care.
Taiwan is not only a popular place for tourism, but for healthcare as well. Medical treatment there is significantly less expensive, and a surgical trip can be transformed into a vacation.
Taiwan also combines Oriental medicine with Western approaches. Hospitals in Taiwan integrate body and mental health diagnosis, treatment and recovery. Besides standard medical procedures, patients can receive hypnosis, meditation, stress analysis, and art and music therapies leading to a greater physical, mental and emotional condition.
I was surprised by the state-of-the-art medical procedures including reconstructive surgeries, liver and kidney transplantation, microvascular procedures and re-implantation, and cardio vascular and neurosurgeries in Taiwan. Hospitals have advanced medical equipment including da Vinci surgical robots, Gamma Knife, TOMO and Hyperbaric Oxygen
Chamber, which provides a precise diagnosis, lowers the risk of infection and displays a clearer picture of the disease for medical professionals.
There are reproductive centers, neonatal care centers and specialized child development facilities where doctors successfully treat epilepsy, metabolic and genetic disorders, developmental disabilities and other neurological diseases.
Moreover, hospitals in Taiwan provide top-quality emergency medicine through cooperation with International SOS organizations, and specially equipped helicopters and airplanes are ready to transport patients.
A caring and friendly attitude enables hospitals to create a comfortable atmosphere for patients who can visit small parks, gardens, cafes, gyms, restaurants and even movie theaters and museums on-site.
Patients can shop and dine several hours after a medical procedure without leaving the hospital.
One parent who accompanied a daughter to Taiwan for neurology treatment said she felt as if she had visited a five-star resort in a tropical island. She said her daughter didn’t want to return to Russia and that one of the nurses had become her best friend.
Taiwan has a culture of caring and compassion, and healthcare professionals who take great pride in patient experiences. The medical community strongly believes that rapport and understanding with patients is the foundation of good healthcare.
As a result, hospital care is an extension of family support. Friendly and personalized service is the foundation of Taiwanese healthcare. All medical staff from doctors to help desk attendants and translators at Taiwan hospitals make sure the needs of the foreign patients are accommodated for.
Visiting Taiwan was a pleasure and a trip I definitely recommend to my clients. Taiwan is not only about medical service, but is a small, very safe and beautiful island home to friendly and cheerful residents.
I experienced the value of traditions, nature and knowledge – the components of Taiwan’s medical miracle.
About the Author
Daria Zhuravleva is a foreign partnership manager at the International Medical Center Nevron,one of the oldest medical tourism companies in Vladivostok, Russia. She is responsible for business development, marketing and partnership relations with hospitals abroad. She also interprets for clients.
Zhuravleva works with U.S. healthcare providers to treat Russian children with developmental disabilities and metabolic disorders.Her efforts at International Medical Center Nevron have led to agreements with many healthcare institutions throughout the world. She had a unique opportunity last year to visit Taiwan for a medical tourism conference, where she was a keynote speaker. There she realized that Taiwan healthcare is among the best in Asia and most of the country’s hospitals and universities are on par with the top hospitals of Europe and the United States