Continuity of Care Is Critical to Success

Continuity of care can be a challenge for patients who travel for medical procedures. Don’t make the mistake of too little communication—either with your hometown doctors or with your in-country surgeon. Make sure your local doctors understand your plans before you schedule your travel. Make sure, also, that your overseas physician (or surgeon) has access to all your medical records. Complications and misunderstandings can arise if information is missing or incomplete. Be proactive! Here and abroad, make sure that your physicians know anything and everything that is relevant to your case.

Have Your Most Current Medical Records. Once you have established contact, provide your physician with any medical records that are requested. If necessary, visit your local physician to obtain up-to-date laboratory tests or scans—whatever your overseas doctor needs. Medical records can be transmitted in two ways: you can send paper copies or disks by postal service, or you can send electronic documents via a secure online service.

Collaboration Among Doctors. Transferring your medical records may get your local doctor communicating with your overseas physician. You may think your case is closed when you return home—but in fact, you’ll continue to be in contact with your overseas physician, and you’ll continue your care under the watchful eye of your local healthcare provider(s). Someone from your overseas healthcare team will need to notify your local physician of the details of the treatment and your aftercare protocol.

Complete Documentation. Too often, patients return home lacking the complete documentation their local physician needs to oversee ongoing care. The absence of information compromises the physician’s effectiveness and threatens the patient’s health. Make sure you take copies of your treatment records with you when you return home. Make sure also that your local physician is fully informed about your recent treatment. Good continuity of care is essential for a successful outcome.

Remember, as a patient, you need to take responsibility for the quality and consistency of the care you receive. If you don’t, no one else will!

—Excerpted from Patients Beyond Borders World Edition

Last updated on 27 May 2011