Seeing a doctor in a foreign country

Published on 24 July, 2018

Summer is here again, the time of year for travel. When traveling abroad, we all tend to prepare our suitcases and travel itineraries, but only a few people prepare for the possibility of needing to see a doctor and receive medical care.
A visit to a doctor can be stressful in itself, but imagine how difficult it can be to see a doctor who speaks a different language, is from a different culture, and lives in a different country.
Therefore, to make this process easier, we offer you some advice so that you can receive the best health care, even if you stay in another country.

Before the trip:

Before you travel, be sure to ask your doctor if you need any vaccinations. Getting the necessary vaccinations is a good way to minimize the risk of contracting an illness while abroad, and of having to consult a health care professional.
You may want to be more cautious, and opt for travel health insurance. Your regular medical insurance will not cover you in another country. Therefore, taking out special travel insurance is a good way to ensure that you are well prepared for the trip.

Abroad :

When you arrive at your destination of choice, be sure to research the hospitals in the area, both private and public. Based on your budget and the country’s health care system, mentally identify the hospital you would prefer to go to in the event of a medical emergency. Would you prefer to go to a public or private hospital? Once you’ve made your decision, don’t forget to budget accordingly.
Also, be sure to collect the phone number of the consulate, as well as the phone number of people to contact (friends or family members you are traveling with, the hotel where you are staying if you are traveling alone) in case of emergency.
In addition, your blood type document may be important in the event of hospitalization. Therefore, always carry this document with you.
The above tips can be very helpful in an emergency. However, if the person taking the trip has a chronic illness or requires special medical needs (a pregnant person who is about to give birth, or a person who has just undergone surgery, etc.), additional preparation is necessary:

The case of a chronic disease:

If you have a chronic illness, the likelihood of needing to see a doctor abroad is higher than the general population, so extra preparation is necessary.
For example, consider wearing special bracelets that alert people to your health condition (e.g., if you have epilepsy or type 1 diabetes). In addition, ask your doctor to give you a medical letter explaining your situation, your history, and the medications you are taking. In addition, the translation of the document in question into the language spoken in the country you are planning to visit will certainly be a significant additional advantage.

Make your visit to the doctor easier:

While the above tips can be a great help, having to consult a doctor in a foreign country is still a somewhat complicated process, especially because of the language barrier.
To solve this problem, you can use online medical appointment booking platforms. Indeed, some of these platforms (such as Doctena.com, Zocdoc.com) allow doctors to specify on their profile page the languages in which they receive patients. With this information, you can be sure to understand the doctor you are consulting.
In addition, another advantage of online medical appointment booking platforms is the ease with which local doctors can be found. In a foreign country, and certainly if you don’t speak the language, it can be somewhat difficult to ask for referrals or addresses of health care providers. However, thanks to these platforms, it only takes a few clicks to find the doctor you are looking for.

Conclusion:

Generally speaking, medicine is the same all over the world. Only a few principles and ethical rules may differ from one country to another.
Remember to follow the tips above, especially if you have a chronic illness.
Also, keep in mind that online medical appointment booking platforms can be useful in such circumstances. Therefore, be sure to consult them.
You may feel overwhelmed by all this information, but don’t let it discourage you if you’re planning a trip abroad, everything should work out fine. However, it is better to arrive with a well prepared trip. And even if you have to see a doctor, you’ll have an interesting story to tell at dinner.
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PS: Doctena allows you to make free online appointments with thousands of doctors in Germany, Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland.

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