Needless to say, health travel is a challenge for the patient. But what about the patient’s family or accompanying attendants? In fact, as I have seen in several cases, it becomes a daunting task for accompanying attendants too. An unfamiliar place, new people, different language, unaccustomed food, different currency – and to top it all – having to take care of a loved one who, in all probability, is scheduled to undergo a major surgery.
This can be a huge load on the psyche of the family staying with the patient. The need of the hour for the family is empowerment – they need to be empowered with awareness and knowledge on two fronts:
- The details of the treatment that the patient is undergoing, patient status and maybe billing as well.
- Myriad details on how to get on in a foreign land.
While details about patient care may be readily available, the challenge faced by most family members is how to deal with things in a foreign land. This is where the International Patient Care team at the hospital and the Health Travel Consultant can play a pivotal role in changing the family’s experience.
The Case Manager in the International Patient Care team should ideally spend time with the family and get them acquainted even with things that may seem simple – how to get around in the hospital, local travel, communication facilities, dining in and around the hospital, etc. Cross-culture orientation can be an important tool in helping patient families. The Patient Care team needs to understand pertinent points about the patient’s culture and the family needs to take tips about the local culture.
Usually, the biggest obstacle faced is language – this can be handled with the help of a translator. Many hospitals employ the services of translators. Family members should be encouraged to ask questions and clear their doubts, however trivial.
Families that accompany the patient are usually clueless about the various formalities involved with respect to Visa and other mandatory documentation. The Health Travel Consultant plays a key role in educating the family about the process involved and simplifying it for them.
Care givers who interact with the family need to understand that an empowered family will manage their stay better, thus enabling the care givers to focus on the patient.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal views of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any governmental/other agency. This article contains facts that have been obtained from reliable sources, but may be subject to change with time. The author will not be responsible in any way for the comments given by readers.