Author Maggi Grace discusses her experiences with medical tourism.
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What has your experience been with medical tourism? Maggi Grace: There is the initial part of the communication with the developing world, that you would expect to be instantaneous because we outsource so much of our technology to them, the emails and website things. But I didn't get responses in a timely fashion. I found out that numbers on the website have been changed and in fact, while I was in the hospital, they redid their whole phone system in the hospital. So you can imagine there is some delay and delay when you are in an urgent sort of crisis mode of needing surgery is not what people respond to. They respond to answers. So communication was the biggest thing, and I also think that there is just a wide range of people for whom medical tourism, if I'm going to call it that, is the answer. I have elderly parents and I'd be very reluctant to put them on a 16-hour flight or 24-hour flight to India, regardless of what the facility was like. There just to travel itself could be so daunting. Should medical tourism be developed more? Maggi Grace: I do. I see it as a sort of tortoise and the hare race right now but at least a relay that I hope that we can pay attention that our legislators can pay attention, that our next election makes it a big issue. That we need to change our systems, so that people have access to care here. They are the policy makers and I don't know all the answers to that, but at the same rate, that we are escalating care in other countries. So yes, I think it's a great option. I'm really glad and thankful that we have the option. I want it to be an easier option for other people, that's why the book and that's why I answer so many emails everyday. So at the same time, I want that to be developed, to going abroad to be developed as a real easy alternative, I want us to pay attention here, so that people don't have to do that. What advice would you give to patients who are considering medical tourism as an alternative to treatment in the U.S.? Maggi Grace: There are companies in place now who take all of this research out of the process that I had to go through three years ago. So the internet is the best way to find those places, the Medical Tourism Association and place that aren't biased. They aren't just one company, but that will give you all the options, I think are the place to start, to get a real good look at what the options are and there are probably places that are better for certain procedures than others by reputation. And cost shouldn't be the only factor that here in the States we would probably follow a particular surgeon or particular person rather than a particular facility and I think it needs to be that way in other countries that we learned the reputation and the statistics, the infection rates, and surgical outcomes rates for people, that it's a people to people kind of ratio.