Have you ever needed medical treatment and for some reason or another felt stranded? Maybe you live in a high-cost area, or perhaps the treatment best for you isn't available in your city or even your state.
Millions of Americans feel this way every year - and as many as 1.4 million will choose to travel to receive medical care this year.
Medical travel isn't unheard of. In fact, it's becoming more popular as people are seeking the best, most experienced surgeons for their procedure.
So if you live with back pain and you need spine surgery - consider leaving on a jet plane (or by train or automobile). Ready to learn more? Keep reading.
What Is Medical Travel?
Medical travel, or as it is better known medical tourism, is a type of travel characterized by people who live in one state or country travel to another state or country for medical treatment.
It combines the push factors of healthcare and the pull factors of enjoying a new destination while getting the treatment you need.
Medical travel is a cottage industry within the broader travel industry. Just as there are booking agents for luxury hotels and specialty safaris, there are also specialist agencies who book everything you need for medical travel including:
- Hotels or other accommodation
- Air travel
This unique type of tourism may sound exotic, but it's more common than you may realize.
The industry has grown nearly 3-fold in the last ten years. In 2007, half a million Americans were likely to choose to travel across state or national borders to receive medical treatment.
Why Would Someone Travel for Medical Treatment?
Everyone has a different reason for choosing to seek medical care outside of their normal providers' service. Some of the reasons we've heard include:
- Wanting to get the treatment in a more comfortable environment
- Seeking out well-known medical professionals
- Needing a procedure that's unavailable near their home
- Desiring faster access to the services
- Hoping to enjoy better medical technology
Ultimately, surgeon experience and availability are the two primary reasons people travel for medical treatment like spine surgery.
Surgeons tend to practice in larger cities, near well-known hospitals. For patients who don't live near metropolitan areas, traveling to find the right care is key.
With multiple large cities, high population and year around beautiful weather, many patients are seeking help in Florida.
Florida: Capital of Medical Tourism USA
West Florida is already recognized as a prime medical tourism destination with an existing market and the potential to grow further. As of 2016, Florida was doing $6 billion in medical tourism sales every year.
Why is Florida such a hot place to get spine surgery? Here's what we know:
- Florida already has the infrastructure to support medical tourism
- Florida's healthcare is competitive at all levels: doctors and staff, facilities, trials, tools, and hospitality
- The market is large but not saturated
- Florida is experiencing a cycle of more medical tourism feeding better medical services
Not only does West Florida offer all these benefits, but it also offers:
- Beach living
- Great winter weather
- Decent cost of living
- Low taxes
Florida offers the two things a place needs to be a destination for recovery and convalescence: it's dedicated to competitive health care, and it's a beautiful place to stay while recovering.
What About Spine Surgery?
People travel for cancer therapies, rare surgeries, and cosmetic surgery on a regular basis, but should you travel to cure your back pain with spine surgery?
The answer is yes.
Spine surgery is a hotly contested topic in the orthopedic community. It comes with complications, and there are less invasive alternatives to surgery that any doctor will recommend you try prior to considering the surgical option.
But for some patients, spinal surgeries like a spinal fusion, a spinal cord stimulator or complex spinal procedure is the only real option for seeking relief. If your local surgeon won't perform it for you because they don't believe in it, because of the issues with reimbursement or because they aren't experienced in the procedure, you should look elsewhere.
Traveling for spine surgery means you'll get your pick of the best spine surgeons in the country - or anywhere else - when you choose this type of therapy. Making the best decision for your care is important when you're booking a spine surgery because you want the greatest chance at success with the lowest likely outcome for complications and health issues. These odds require the best, most experienced spinal surgeons available.
Things to Know About Traveling for Spine Surgery
If you decide to make the leap to choose less pain and better health, a spine surgeon will be waiting for you.
Here are a few tips for traveling to your surgery center to help keep you comfortable:
- Get up and stretch at least once an hour
- Walk around when you can
- Stay hydrated
- Bring plenty of healthy snacks
- Wear loose-fitting clothing and comfortable shoes
- Don't forget your medications or care records
Traveling for spine surgery is a lot like traveling for business or pleasure; you need a vacation mindset. But be sure to plan for plenty of downtimes after your procedure. Although central Florida is a playground, you need plenty of rest before making the journey home.
Medical travel is popular among Americans because it allows patients the procedures they need with doctors they want.
Whether you've got questions about medical out of state care or medical travel expenses, let us know. We help Americans from across the country seek pain-free living with several different back and spine therapies.