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

The Department of Orthopedics at Clinica San Rafael

Dr. Victor Lizcano, Chief of Orthopedics

Spent the day with several surgeons from the Department of Orthopedics at Clinica San Rafael – which has a city-wide reputation for excellence.

Dr. Victor Lizcano, MD is the charming Chief of Orthopedics who opened his busy, 11 surgeon department to me. I watched surgeries, talked to patients, reviewed films, and interviewed the surgeons in his department, with free rein.

Orthopedics surgical team; two instrumentadors and 4th year resident (center)

Dr. Maria Angela Gomez, MD, a busy surgeon who nevertheless took the time to talk to me; manages dual practices; both as a plastic surgeon (at Clinica de Marly) and an orthopedic (hand) surgeon. She’s currently involved in a very interesting research project – tell you more about it later… A very fascinating lady.

Dr. Martha Pincon, MD an orthopedic surgeon specializing in foot and ankle surgery, also a very interesting and enjoyable surgeon.

Dr. Martha Pincon, during a complex case at Clinica San Rafael

There’s a lot more to tell – but I have another interview in a few minutes..