Many people tend to travel abroad without much thought as to how they will protect their health during their trip.
However, consulting a travel health specialist is key to having a successful and safe trip. Even if the specialist just imparts advice to the traveler, the specialist will still be providing him or her with the tools needed to stay healthy overseas. When in need of the expertise provided by a travel health clinic, how do you choose the right one?
That intimate knowledge can make a big difference to your health. Studies show that when people’s access to the right and best clinic for them improves, their risk of dying of cancer, heart disease and strokes declines. And Medicare Advantage members with a primary care physician are more likely to benefit from coordinated care and to have a positive health care experience.
Just like when choosing a doctor or a hospital, you want the assurance that the choice you are making when choosing a travel clinic will be suitable for your needs. The last thing you want is to trust quacks with your travel health and due to this, it is imperative to be cautious when considering a travel health clinic. Here are some of the factors to consider:
- Ask around.
The first step to finding a great doctor: Talk to your family and friends about their great doctors while they travel in to the same destination you are about to visit. A recommendation from someone you trust is a great way to identify a highly skilled, helpful physician. But remember: Every person is different. Just because a doctor was perfect for your neighbor or your best friend doesn’t mean that he or she is right for you.
- Map it out.
Since you’ll be visiting your primary care doctor for everyday health needs, it’s important that he or she be located somewhere convenient to you find the clinic as close as possible within your place or region that you are in. You won’t want to travel very far when you’re not feeling good. And if your doctor’s office is conveniently located, you’ll be more inclined to keep appointments for physicals and other preventive care when you’re healthy. If you’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, check if it offers transportation benefits, which can come in handy if you need help getting to and from your doctor appointments. You should visit a travel clinic at least four weeks before your date of departure, and this is where the location of the clinic comes in.
Other than the initial vaccination, booster shots may be necessary to enhance your levels of immunity against the potential risks you may face, and the last thing you want is to spend a lot of time traveling to get the shots. It will be more convenient if you choose a clinic closer to you and one that you can access without any hassles.
- Make sure you’ve got coverage.
Once you’ve identified some possible candidates, check whether they work with your health plan. If you have traditional Medicare, call the clinic’s office and ask they accepts Medicare patients. If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, call your insurance provider or check your plan’s website to see if the clinic is in your plan’s network. Most plans charge more if you see a clinic outside the network, and some won’t cover out-of-network care at all, so it’s important to take this step before scheduling an appointment.
- Do a quality check.
When you are choosing a travel health clinic, you will want to find a clinic that makes proper healthcare its main priority. The specialists should listen to your concerns, talk to you about your medical history and should assess the current state of your health. You should never feel rushed or belittled for not knowing about any aspect of travel medicine; the clinic’s main goal should be to help you stay healthy through proper education and preparation.
Chances are you wouldn’t hire someone to make repairs in your home without doing a little research into the quality of their work. So why would you choose a clinic without doing the same? If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, check with your insurance company to see if they have any information about the quality ratings of specific primary care clinic in your network.
You can also use the clinic compare tool on Medicare.gov to see if the clinic has participated in any activities that indicate he or she provides high-quality care.
Finally, check to see whether the clinic is board-certified through the Certification Matters site, which the International Board of Medical Specialties maintains. Usually the great clinic will have a great and board-certified doctor which will always be available in their clinic. Board-certified primary care doctors have not only met the licensing requirements of their states, but also passed comprehensive exams in internal medicine. Doctors also have to keep up with the latest developments in their fields to maintain their certification, so you can be sure they’re giving you up-to-date advice.
- Check about how many Industry Expertise does the Clinic Have
You will want to find a travel health specialist who works in a clinic with significant experience and comprehensive knowledge in the travel medicine industry and preventative care. Ideally, the clinic would focus solely on travel medicine and travel health, and be knowledgeable on conditions pertaining to your destinations, including any layovers. You will have a great experience if you work with a travel health clinic that has demonstrated experience and comprehensive knowledge on matters dealing with travel medicine. The clinic should ideally be focused on travel health and travel medicine, and they should have a lot of information about the requirements in various destinations around the globe. This is how you will know if you will be adequately covered before you head on your trip.
- Asking about the Yellow Fever Vaccine
If you have plans to travel to Africa, Southeast Asia or Latin America, you will need to consider a vaccination for yellow fever. These immunizations are only provided by authorized providers who are recognized by the U.S. Yellow Fever Vaccination Registry. This registry is monitored by the Center for Disease Control and individual state health departments, ensuring the quality and safety of the vaccine that is administered to high-risk groups.
- Check if You Can Get All the Vaccines that You Needed
A good travel health clinic will provide far more than routine vaccinations such as hepatitis A and B, tetanus/diphtheria, HPV, measles, mumps, rubella, shingles and polio. The travel health specialists there should be qualified to give you specialty vaccinations against Japanese encephalitis, yellow fever, rabies, typhoid and anthrax. They should also be able to assess your needs and provide you with the appropriate prophylactic medication for malaria, antibiotics for traveler’s diarrhea, and other travel supplies, as appropriate.
- Keep your needs in mind.
Every person has unique health needs, and those needs change as people age. We suggest asking the clinic about their specialties or areas of interest. Example: Some clinics are really good at sports medicine, but if you’re not a serious athlete in your senior years, that may not be helpful to you, or some clinics, on the other hand, may have a special interest in diabetes care or have a large population of diabetics in their practice. Those are things to ask when you call or make an appointment with the clinic for the first time. And if you have multiple complex medical issues, you may benefit from seeing a clinic with more than 5 years of experience in handling patient, since your needs will be so complex or need another further assistance.
Once you have found a clinic that seems to be a good fit for you, call the local office to schedule your appointment. To measure the quality of your visit after the appointment, ask yourself these questions:
- Did the travel health specialist give you a chance to ask questions?
- Did you feel the specialist was listening to you?
- Did the specialist seem comfortable answering your questions?
- Did the travel health specialist talk to you in a way that you could understand?
- Did you feel the specialist spent enough time with you?
If the answer to the above questions is yes, the clinic is a certified yellow fever provider, they offer all of your vaccines in one stop and the clinic is close to your home or office, then it sounds like you have found the clinic that is right for you. Happy and safe travels!