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Seeing a medical professional in a foreign country

Tuesday 24 July 2018 - forpatient


Summer is here, which means everyone is traveling. When going abroad, we all tend to prepare our wardrobes and travel itineraries, but only a few of us get ready for possibly having to see a doctor and having to receive medical attention.
The process of visiting a doctor can be stressful as is, but imagine how tricky it can be to consult a doctor who speaks a different language, who comes from a different culture and who lives in a different country.
So to make things as smooth as possible, here are some tips and tricks to follow, in order for you to receive the best healthcare even if you’re in a different country:

Before you travel:

Before you travel, definitely ask you primary doctor if you need any vaccinations. Getting the necessary vaccinations is a good way to minimize the risk of getting sick abroad and having to see a medical professional.
To be extra cautious, get travel health insurance. Your usual medical insurance won’t cover you outside of your country of origin, so getting special travel insurance is a good way to ensure you come fully prepared.

When you’re abroad:

When you arrive to your destination of choice make sure to research the hospitals in the area, both in the private and public sectors. Depending on your budget and the country’s healthcare system, mentally decide which hospital you would rather go to in the case of a medical emergency. Would you rather go to a public hospital or a private one? When your decision is made, don’t forget to budget accordingly.
Make sure to gather consulate numbers as well as people to contact (friends or family you’re traveling with, the hotel you’re staying at if you’re traveling solo) in the case of an emergency.
Keep your blood type card on you as well.
The previous tips can be really helpful in the case of an emergency. However, if the person traveling has a chronic illness or special medical needs (pregnant about to give birth, or just had a surgery…) some extra preparation is needed:

The case of chronic illness:

If you suffer from a chronic illness, your chances of having to see a doctor abroad are higher than the general population, that’s why extra preparation is needed.
Think of wearing special bracelets that notify the people around you of your medical condition (for example epilepsy, type 1 diabetes.)  It’s also a good idea to ask your doctor back home for a medical letter explaining your case, your history and the medication you’re on. You’ll gain extra points if you’re able to translate this document to the language spoken in the country you’re planning to visit.

Making your encounter with the doctor easier:

Even though the tips mentioned above can be of good help, the process of having to see a doctor in a foreign country remains a bit tricky, especially because of the language barrier.
A very good solution to this is using online medical booking platforms. Indeed, some of these platforms (such as,…) allow the doctors to precise their spoken languages on their profile page. With that, at least when you visit your doctor you’re sure of understanding each other.
Another advantage of online booking platforms is how easy it is to find local doctors. In a foreign country, especially if you don’t speak the language it can be a bit hard to ask for recommendations or addresses of healthcare providers. However thankfully with these platforms, the doctor you’re looking for is only a couple clicks away.


Medicine is generally the same around the world, with only some guidelines and ethical rules that might differ from country to country.
Don’t forget to use the tips mentioned above, especially if you have a chronic illness.
Another takeaway is how helpful online booking platforms can be in this case, so make sure to give them a look.
This article might seem overwhelming, but if you’re planning a trip don’t get discouraged, it should be okay. It’s just better to come fully prepared. And even if something happens and you need to see a doctor, it will make for an interesting anecdote and story to tell around dinner.

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PS : Doctena provides online booking appointments with doctors in Austria, Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, Netherlands, and Switzerland.


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