Medical travel facilitator companies play a critical role in ensuring a safe and successful medical travel patient experience. There are many great facilitator companies out there; however, unfortunately, patients have very few signposts to help them distinguish between a good facilitator and the not so good. Below are seven key questions to ask or signs to look for when choosing a medical tourism facilitator.
1. Is the facilitator company licensed or a legally registered company?
Most companies will need one or multiple licenses to start and operate their businesses legally in the state or country where they are located. Don’t be shy to ask the facilitator for a copy of its business license. If a medical travel company lacks the requisite licenses and registrations, it is a huge red flag that says stop.
Health payers looking to do business with medical travel businesses, therefore, need to do their due diligence in fact-checking the portfolio of these companies, to ensure the companies are duly registered and licensed to operate and carry out all the services they say they offer. Further digging to check the certifications and training of key staff in the company might also be necessary to further examine the credibility of the company.
2. Is the owner/management and staff clearly identified on the company’s website?
Check the website for pictures or information about the owner/management and staff. Is it clear who is running the company? If not, think twice before using its services.
Transparency often starts from the first point of interaction between a client and the business, which is usually a website. Medical travel companies that are fully prepared to deliver their services to patients from the get-go often leave no basic information withheld on the website. The names and even qualifications of the management and key staff of the company are usually clear enough for first-time visitors to have a basic feel of a company’s offerings.
3. Has the facilitator visited the hospitals and clinics it is promoting?
Ask the facilitator what criteria were used to select its network of healthcare providers? Are healthcare providers accredited? Most importantly, did the facilitator actually visit and evaluate the facilities?
Unfortunately, not all medical travel facilitators conduct a thorough assessment of the healthcare providers they are referring. For some, the more the merrier, even if they may not always be the best option for a particular patient. You can tell medical travel companies that care about the safety and quality of care these providers by how much information they provide about these facilities and how carefully they evaluated them before including them into their network.
In the post-pandemic world of healthcare, patients are now more concerned about safety and well-being, so medical travel facilitators that are committed to these are likely to add healthcare providers that are accredited against these metrics and those that have a robust infection control protocol and patient safety measures.
4. Is the facilitator transparent about how it is being reimbursed for its services?
Some facilitators may receive commissions from providers while others may charge the patient directly for its services. There’s nothing wrong with either of these; however, it’s important for patients to know, as some facilitators may be tempted to steer patients to providers that pay the highest commissions versus being the best option.
If facilitators are open about how they are reimbursed for their services, it builds patient trust in the entire process and makes medical travel patients more likely to use their services. If this aspect appears hazy or unclear or the facilitators object to provide details, you may want to explore other facilitator options.
5. Does the company website feature patient testimonials and will the facilitator put you in contact with past clients?
For obvious reasons take it as a red flag if a facilitator is hesitant or unable to provide you with past patient references. Every business wants to highlight its past successes and testimonials of previous client experiences as a way to gain more clients and expand business opportunities. If a medical travel facilitator does not provide previous patient reviews, it may indicate that patients have not had a good experience with them.
Also, look out for existing reviews to guide your choices. If most reviews you find about a medical travel company are negative, it may be worth considering other options. However, negative reviews do not always indicate that a medical travel facilitator offers poor services, but if reviews are consistently negative, it is a red flag.
6. Ask the facilitator how it will safeguard your private health information.
To arrange treatment abroad, you will have to share sensitive personal information with the healthcare provider, facilitator or both. Find out how your private health information will be
protected. What measures are in place to maintain data integrity and prevent breaches? Are your personal health data accessible to everyone in the company indiscriminately or just authorized personnel? Are personal health data encrypted to prevent external interference?
If a medical travel company does not provide clear security architecture for your health data, it may be a sign to not proceed with a medical travel contract. Further, you also want to know how these data are shared with the medical travel programs, how they are used, and how long they are stored after completing the care journey.
7. Ask to see the patient contract you will need to sign.
Does it clearly state the scope of services being offered and is it transparent as to what services are included or excluded in any “package” arrangements? If you are paying the facilitator, is there a clear payment refund/cancellation policy? Is legal liability addressed?
The contract must be in clear terms in describing cancellation and refund policies and what you offerings are covered. If the gray areas are not clarified before departure, you may find yourself making extra, unplanned expenses or even hiring another travel company to offer other services you thought were covered. These happenstances lower the patient experience across the care continuum and can even lead to poor healthcare outcomes.
Global Healthcare Accreditation
Global Healthcare Accreditation (GHA), a recognized leader in the medical tourism space provides the right solutions and tools for medical travel businesses and organizations to remodel themselves to meet patient expectations and boost patient experience. With GHA’s certification programs for medical travel facilitators, leading medical tourism experts and leaders prepare facilitators for the task of ensuring a quality patient experience for every health payer.
GHA offers the Medical Travel Facilitator Certification and the Certified Medical Travel Professional Courses to demonstrate to patients that a medical travel facilitator has raised its standards to align with international best practices and that patient experience remains top priority. Patients no longer need to rely solely on convincing reviews; with these certifications, medical travel facilitators are able to demonstrate that they understand the demands of the new normal and that patients would receive premium value for their money. To learn more about GHA’s certifications and programs for medical travel facilitators, click here.