How to choose a medical provider / healthcare specialist while traveling

For a couple years, I’ve been a member of several Facebook group for expats, and the same type of question comes up over and over again:

Can anyone recommend a good dentist/gastroenterologist/whatever-medical-specialist in [location]

Asking around on Facebook is a pretty weak way to choose a medical specialist. You get random opinions from random unqualified people who’ve had maybe one or two experiences with one or at most two specialists in an area. People very rarely compare more than 2 dentists. I’m a reviews and comparison shopping maniac, and still saw the same dentist for over 10 years. He wasn’t even that great.

Here’s a better way - check out the top accredited clinics evaluated by specialists at Global Clinic Ratings. Here’s GCR’s mission (I have no affiliation with them; I’ve just discovered them today):

Through GCR.org we believe in providing simple, transparent “reputation” scores of medical offices, clinics & hospitals worldwide so that patients can immediately assess which is the safest, affordable and most reliable choice for them.

After finding a few top providers on GCR, cross-check them against Facebook and Google Maps reviews. For example, for dentists in Bucharest, you’ll find Bucharest British Dental Place, with high-quality (i.e. detailed and cogent) reviews on Google Maps and Facebook. (BBDP had also been recommended by a few people on those Facebook expat groups I mentioned - but only about 1 in 10, because everyone has their favorite (i.e. only) dentist they’ve been to, and don’t know any better).

Beware though that GCR has pretty incomplete data in many locations. Bucharest beats New York, San Francisco, Singapore and London at highly-ranked dental clinics, which I find hard to believe reflects reality.

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Caveat emptor

I have just looked at Global Clinic Ratings in cities where I work. It is rubbish. It lists some reputable institutions but also others I would never recommend.

In fairness it is an almost impossible task…There is no point asking a patient because they do not know if the treatment was appropriate and usually cant compare it with the same treatment elsewhere. Facilities also vary from country to country. How can Google help???

A good health insurance provider will only use reputable clinics.

I would hesitate before going to an individual doctor or a walk in clinic before a proper hospital

In the first world ex USA I would always start with the state system

Outside the first world I would always try to be flown home

Always always run from any doctor who claims he is the best or a world leader. Ask how many of that particular operation / treatment he has done in the past 12 months. Ensure he is board certified or equivalent and has admitting rights in a recognised large local hospital. Ensure he qualified in a reputable medical school in the same country and passed postgraduate exams.

Ensure you sign a written consent form listing what is to be done, that nothing further is allowed and what the risks are. Every risk should have a percentage.

Ask why the treatment cant wait and insist on a second opinion from another doctor who is not his friend

As a doctor I am never offended by these demands. I am putting my patient’s life on the line so I am happy to provide reassurance. Any doctor who gets the hump is one to avoid

Hope this helps

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This is a fantastic post. Thank you ever so much for listing these concerns and suggestions!

Not always the best solution, but for some conditions there is also iCliniq.com. You pay for a number of hours with a doctor and you can pick one from a directory. At the very least, it saves you time.