Canadians use medical tourism to skip lines, long waits


More and more Canadians are becoming frustrated with the wait times for surgical procedures in their native country – as wait times for procedures such as joint replacement routinely take years.. instead they are turning to medical tourism to satisfy their immediate medical needs, and to get back to a normal, functional life faster..

This is big news in a country that prides itself of its ‘universal’ health care system – which fails to acknowledge the tolls their lengthy waits take on their patients.  So – it may be free, but many residents are opting out.

In this story – documenting several patients who traveled abroad in the last several years – patients express their satisfaction with overseas services (which they rated as ‘excellent’ and ‘superior to care received at home’ despite having to pay-out-of-pocket.)

Interestingly enough – one of the main brokers (or travel agents) for these services – Shaz Pendharkar is a retired school teacher who readily admits he has no medical training. Despite that – he feels confident enough to recommend the services of medical providers overseas.  He states that despite this obstacle, he “knows the doctors.”

While I am in favor of medical tourism to improve the quality of life for patients in North America (and other locations), I am still uneasy about the ready assurances Mr. Pendharker offers his clients, and his easy dismissal of the unhappiness of one of his former clients.  “It was a butt-lift” he says, as if this in itself is enough to dismiss the patient’s claims of dissatisfaction.

I don’t know the facts of the case – so maybe his claim has merit – maybe it doesn’t.  While patients should continue to seek medical care where they can find it – and overseas options are an excellent choice – I’d rather that someone better informed perform the brokering.  How about you?

Do you want a high school principal chosing your surgeon, and your medical facility?  Or would you rather someone with experience in evaluating medical standards do the job for you? I think it’s time people start applying objective criteria to the entire industry – and leave medical travel to the health care professionals.

The reason for the time out

Ranks & Measures

Why Colombia (versus India and Thailand)

The ethics of Indian Medical Tourism

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