There are many health agencies that offer their services to patients from abroad. However, you should take care when choosing the agency. It is best to contact the International department of the clinic.
Why you are better off without the help of agencies
If you want to get information about medical treatment online, you want to find the best doctor and the best hospital for your disease. That is understandable. Health agencies often cooperate with partner clinics. Thus, they don’t look for the best clinic, but for a cooperating hospital.
That is why it is better to look for the suitable clinic yourself. Have a look at the lists of clinics on Clinic Compass. Excellent international hospitals are listed there. You can contact the clinic’s Case Manager for international patients who speak English and often further foreign languages.
Your advantage: Clinics account the correct costs
Hospitals are public or private institutions which can be investigated by the Federal Audit Office. That means that they have to account the correct costs. If this is not the case, it will quickly become public, as has been shown by the scandal involving the Stuttgart Clinic.
On the other hand, agencies are often one-man companies which fly below the radar of the financial supervision and do not invoice the correct costs. An insider even estimates that at least 80 percent of the patient agencies are untrustworthy. Not only the small agencies, but also bigger health agencies which have many employees and very high revenues sometimes do not work properly, as Jens Juszczak, researcher for medical tourism, knows.
That doesn’t mean that all health agencies do sloppy work. There are also 20% that are trustworthy, but you should be cautious when making a choice.
International Departments offer different services
The service offer of the clinics is very different. Case managers of some hospitals organize everything for the patient from abroad: from pickup from the airport, accommodation in a hotel and the translation of the consultations with the doctor as well as the farewell at the terminal before the departure. Often, the international department is very small and only consist of few persons. In that case, the patient managers only inform about the medical treatment.
If the latter is the case, you need help on the spot. If you speak English, you don’t need an interpreter. Doctors in Germany, receptionists in hotels and many other people speak English. If you come from the Arabic-speaking area, Russian-speaking area or another language area and you don’t speak English, you should engage an interpreter on the first day and during important consultations with doctors.
In addition, you need a hotel or an accommodation, where you can stay before and after the treatment. Maybe you are accompanied by your family or friends who also need to sleep somewhere. That is why it can make sense to get the help of an agency: they offer shuttle-services, hotel search, interpreting services and maybe a tourism program.
How to proceed as a patient from abroad
- Look at the clinic list to find out which hospitals in Germany offer the treatment you need for your disease.
- Find the hospital that you like in the list and contact the International Department.
- The Case Manager will ask you for medical findings in German or English. If it comes to a treatment in Germany, ask the Case Manager for more services like hotels, interpreting service etc.
- If the Case Manager cannot help you because the clinic doesn’t offer these services, contact an agency or write us an email. There are hotels in many cities that specialize in patients from abroad.
- Pay attention to the separation of costs. The clinic will invoice medical services. The agency, the hotel, the interpreter bills services.
Of course it would be more convenient if there was someone who could do the research for you and comes up with a complete offer. Unfortunately, in reality this is only very seldom the case. It is better to ask a smart and trustworthy person you know to search a clinic or send some emails yourself. In reality, the organization of a treatment in Germany is not that difficult. Here, Martin Ajei, a philosophy professor from Ghana, talks about how he experienced his surgery in Germany.