For decades science fiction has depicted medical robots as part of some far distant future. Something for our great-great grandchildren. That future is actually the present. Robotic surgeries are performed every day, supported by other advanced technologies that make medical diagnosis more precise and the treatment of illnesses and injuries more successful.
In a recent ranking of the top hospitals in the world for high tech medical treatment a California hospital finished in first place — and the US took slightly more than half of the top 30 spots. However, 60% of the hospitals in the top 10 are outside the US. There has been a rise in medical tourism, people traveling to other countries for surgeries, treatments, and even diagnosis, over the past decade. While many experts explain this by pointing to the rising cost of health care in the US and other developed countries, the spread of advanced medical technology is also a factor. Patients are able to get advanced treatments at more affordable prices, and in some cases better treatment than they could afford at home.
Top hospitals are going paperless. Electronic record systems provide a range of benefits to patients as well as doctors, which is why modern hospitals are being built around these systems while older hospitals are struggling to install and implement them. Imagine every test result, medicine prescribed, and doctor notation in one file that is easy to search, navigate, and read (those jokes about doctors’ handwriting are based in fact). That record can be pulled up at any terminal throughout a clinic or hospital and updated or amended as needed. Top systems streamline this process and reduce medical errors in treatment, prescriptions, and diagnosis.
Digital imaging has been around for a few decades, but new systems are integrating these machines. Several hospitals opened in the past few years have included what is known as a “digital diagnostic hub” which features not just CT, MRI, and PET scan, but the ability to conduct digital endoscopy and mammography. The diagnostic equipment is integrated with the surgical suites so that instant, high definition scans are available prior to surgery.
High-tech surgery started with lasers and laproscopy but has advanced to computer surgery that include robotic scalpels and arms. Gamma Knife surgery is a cutting edge technology and the most-advanced equipment can be found not in the US, but in England. Computer-aided surgery includes the integration of scans to navigate procedures, with the software telling the doctor exactly where to go, as well as the use of robotic “surgeons” to conduct everything from joint replacement to microscopic heart and brain surgery.
Some other advanced medical equipment and treatments now available in so-called “third world” countries include digital subtraction angiography equipment, linear accelerator machines, shockwave lithotripters, 3D C-arm, molecular-targeting therapy, and bloodless 5th digital spinal operations.
Western countries like the US, Canada, Germany and the UK have many high tech hospitals, but other countries are quickly catching up. China, Japan, Singapore, India, Thailand, Turkey, South Korea, and even Lebanon have invested in providing cutting edge care to their own citizens and to medical tourists coming from the West.
Here’s a list of some of the foreign hospitals that offer high tech services:
- Thailand — Ramkhamhaeng Hospital, Wattanosoth Cancer Hospital and Bumrungrad International Hospital, all in Bangkok
- India — Fortis Memorial Research Institute in Gurgaon
- Lebanon — Clemenceau Medical Center in Beirut
- Singapore — Gleneagles Medical Center in Tanglin
- South Korea — Wooridul Spine Hospital in Seoul
- Turkey — Andolu Medical Center in Kocaeli
Many of these hospitals are part of larger networks and some are affiliated with American medical schools and hospital groups. When researching foreign medical treatment using sites like www.surgeonabroad.com, look for names like Fortis Healthcare (India & Asia), Asklepios (Europe), and the Bangkok Hospital Group (Thailand) to find the top medical technology and high quality care.