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Medical tourism has been around for thousands of years. In fact, archaeological evidence from the third millennium B.C. suggests that people in ancient Mesopotamia traveled to the temple of a healing god or goddess at Tell Brak, Syriato heal eye disorders. A couple millennia later the Greeks and Romans would travel by foot or boat to spas and cult centers all over the Mediterranean. The Asclepia Temples, dedicated in honor of the Greek god of medicine, were some of the world's first healing centers. Pilgrims would come and stay several nights praying that Asclepios would appear in a dream and provide a cure to their ailment.

There are 458 Joint Commission International accredited hospitals around the world. This figure does not include ambulatory clinics. Joint Commission is an independent not-for-profit organization that evaluates and accredits more than 15,000 healthcare organizations in the United States. Its international arm (Joint Commission International) has been accrediting hospitals outside the U.S. since the late 90’s. JCI accreditation is one of the main criteria patients use to ensure they are traveling to a hospital with high standards of patient care. 1.6 million U.S. patients traveling abroad for care. In 2009, Deloitte predicted that over one and a half million U.S. patients would be traveling abroad for care, with a 35% increase over the next several years.

You may spend more time at a hotel than at a hospital during your medical trip. Depending on your procedure, oftentimes you will only stay a night or two in the hospital and then spend the rest of the time at a hotel recuperating and/ or engaging in physical rehabilitation. So choose a hotel that has experience with medical tourists and understands your needs and expectations.

Your companion could make or break your medical trip. Having the physical and moral support of a companion is one of the most important ingredients of a successful medical trip, particularly during the recovery process. However, not everyone is ideally suited to being a medical travel companion. Choose your companion wisely. Right now it’s all about you. Your companion must be willing to put your needs ahead of his or her own and assist you during the recovery process. This does not mean they cannot have some leisure time to enjoy the local culture and attractions, but they should understand that their primary purpose is to provide support.


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