The present phenomenon ‘Medical Tourism’ was conceptualised thousands of years back when Greek pilgrims traveled to the healing god Asklepios at Epidauria. Over time, Epidauria became a destination for medical tourism. Through the centuries, healthcare has always been a concern for the average human being. The quality of treatment, costs involved and convenience of the system have always been the major determinants of a good healthcare system. Some developed nations fail to satisfy the healthcare needs of their people despite having great medical infrastructure.
In the United States, healthcare expenses have gone out of reach of the general public. While those covered under medical insurance do not feel the financial pinch, the ones without suffer the most.
The rising cost of healthcare has made medical tourism a phenomenon today. Countries like Thailand have become the preferred medical tourism destinations. Not only do they provide world-class medical care at affordable rates but also couple the medical tourism package with a brief holiday. As a result, people from all over the world are coming to these countries to seek medical treatment.
Phuketindex.com recently met with Australian Fabio Ricca who, along with his partner, have been travelling to Phuket regularly for dental treatment. Fabio first experienced Thai dental work 20 years ago when he needed a small emergency filling, the results of which he was pleasantly surprised with. However, just over two years ago, when he had first planned to come to Phuket to have dental work carried out, his mother was taken sick and he had to have the work done in Australia. The results of this work, which cost several thousand dollars, was so poor Fabio is now in Phuket to put the work right and he says he will never have dental surgery in Australia again.
We spoke to Fabio to find out more about how and why he decided to choose Phuket as his medical tourism destination.
Why are you here in Phuket?
On this occasion there are actually three reasons why I’m here. Primarily, to have dental work carried out. This work includes having crowns fitted and some root canal work. Apart from that I’m here to celebrate my 50th birthday and finally, to have a well earned holiday.
Why did you choose Phuket over other destinations to come for your dental treatment?
Well I guess it serves two points really. I have personally looked and researched into having treatment carried out in Bangkok and I’ve not found any difference in the standard there to here. From reviews I’ve read on the internet, the services provided are no different. For me personally, the advantage of coming to Phuket is you get the additional benefit of a holiday. That’s why Phuket is so much more appealing than Bangkok.
Have you visited Phuket for medical procedure before?
I have visited Phuket regularly for dental work. In the last 6 months alone, this is my third visit. From what I hear from medical practitioners in Australia, medical tourism is growing so fast it’s becoming a very big a threat not only to their businesses but also their livelihoods. Medical tourism is not only growing because of the cost; it’s also down to the professionalism of the teams here. In my opinion, the work quality is far more superior to that in Australia.
In my personal case, I’ve had work done in Australia which has cost me 10’s of thousands of dollars, which was not carried out satisfactorily and I’ve come here to get that work put right. In fact, today I’m having work redone that was badly done in Australia. I have lost thousands of dollars in terms of what I spent on dental work there. In the end I got so fed up with trying to sort out the problems I decided it would be easier to come here. Now I will not touch a dentist back home, not even for something as small as a check up. I’m in a position where I can have the best treatment at home money can buy and that treatment is so poor it’ disgusting.
How did you become aware of coming to Phuket for medical procedures?
Well, this has all come about because of the poor service received in Australia. I started researching on the internet about having dental work carried out abroad and what the option were. Once I had done that background research, I then started reading some actual reports on what treatments and services people had received. It was amazing what I was reading with regards to the amounts people were paying, and more so, at the satisfaction people had at the end results. This is when I decided I would travel here and try it out.
Now I can state it’s actually cheaper for me to come here, have dental treatment and a holiday, than it would be to have the same treatment done at home, and the work it so much superior to work I’ve had back home.
How did you gain your confidence in the specialist who was to carry out your procedure?
To begin with, I did have some concerns. I was a little worried about sterilisation etc, but once you come here and speak to the dentists you will see the processes and they don’t hide anything. I have never seen such a high standard as what I have here. It’s actually quite amazing, when you think of the percentage of people who are afraid of dentists in general, it appears the specialist here can read into that and they know how to calm you and they can relieve you from that fear of dentists.
Also, the management here at the La flora Resort also knew of the surgery I had looked into, and after speaking to them and getting their reassurance I was 100% happy to go there for treatment.
Are you planning any future trips to Phuket for medical procedures?
Certainly, within this holiday I will be booking my accommodation for in about 6 months time, which will coincide with me coming back to have my teeth checked, as well as having another holiday. In my case, I will not be having dental treatment at home anymore; I will come here even if it’s just for a check up.
Why did you choose to stay at La flora during your stay?
It’s actually hard for me to put into words what staying at La flora means to me, I arrive here and everybody is at the entrance waiting for me. I have stayed in many top hotels around the world, and to me there are hotels, and then there’s La flora. This is 5 stars like anywhere else, but in my eyes it’s 10 stars. At La flora it’s run more like a family. Yes you are a guest and a client but they welcome you and treat people like a member of their family. The hospitality they provide, aside from the service is genuine.
I don’t know how I would feel about going to the dentists here without these people. They organise the transport for me and they’re genuinely here for me. There’s a genuine concern and they’re always looking out for me. I can’t speak highly enough about La Flora and their staff.
This is the only place i would choose to stay when i visit Phuket.