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Title

INFORMED PATIENT CHOICE IN TREATMENT ABROAD-A RESPONSE TO RECENT COMMENTARIES (CORRESPONDENCE)

Pages

 Start Page 491 | End Page 492

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Abstract

 Lunt (1) and Mainil (2) emphasize the importance of continued research into the scope, nature and motivations for cross border care within Europe. Understanding patient mobility in the rapidly changing environment and turbulent movements is crucial in the consideration of accessible healthcare provision. Crossing the border or travelling far destinations in order to obtain healthcare, medical services and wellness, spa and relaxation treatments is not a new phenomenon. Europe-wide and global patient flows have been doubtlessly growing in the last few decades. Our study highlights motivations of a sample of predominantly Romanian patients travelling to Hungary for care in the context of a stable and longstanding between these two EU countries – also to note that significant amount of Romanian patients having had sought treatment abroad on several occasions - not exclusively in Hungary - and aiming to return home in improved health condition. More frequent drivers for patient mobility were perceptions of better quality of care, access to specialist care, and shorter waiting times. Previous studies (3,4) have also suggested that one of the most important drivers of patient mobility is the greater affordability of different treatments abroad. When considering the price differences, that should also be highlighted that surrounding neighbouring countries might have similar prices and easier for them to get reimbursed by domestic health insurer than those patients travelling from longer distances. In Romania, private provision, consumer-driven demand and market-driven elements play a dominant role (5). On the other hand, the trends in health spending of the population for health protection and healthy lifestyle show increase globally, patients/clients tend to invest more into their health and any health-related activities. Our study echoes recent research which also found that important motivations were avoidance of waiting lists, experiences of poor health services and quality, and lack of access specialists or advanced technology (6). In addition, there is increasing literature on patient mobility trends to combine medical care with leisure and cultural programs (7,8).

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