By Dr. Allen Nazeri DDS MBA FICOI MICOI, Bangkok Smile Malo Clinic
There are no accurate data available on the dental tourism sector in Thailand, but as an international healthcare management consultant who is based in Bangkok; I monitor the industry very closely and often survey international patients who travel to Thailand. Thus, I have formed my own opinion as why dental tourism continues to grow despite competitive pressures from other countries such as Vietnam, Philippines and India.
My recent survey of nearly 80 patients who visited Bangkok Smile MALO CLINIC is a good indication as why Thailand continues to be a popular destination among Aussies, Americans, British, Canadians, French and even other southeastern Asian countries such as Singapore and Myanmar. These are the conclusion of my survey that formed my opinion expressed in this article.
Price is not as important as the quality of care
Even though the primary purpose of medical tourism is to save on cost of treatment; receiving quality care, continues to rank among top reasons from patients who were interviewed. I asked one particular expatriate professional, who lives in Bali, as why he decided to come to Thailand for his dental crown? His answer was simple and to the point; “ Indonesians, don’t even trust to go to a Doctor in their own country and come to Thailand instead, why should I see a dentist in Bali?”. Thailand has achieved great international reputation and the medical training programs are as good as many western countries. Many Thai dentists complete post-graduate certifications from abroad and develop great hands due to a large volume of available patients, both domestically as well as coming from overseas. Patients from Myanmar also seek treatment from Thai
dentists as Myanmar dentistry is still at its primitive stage and they are willing to make multiple trips to complete their treatment in Thailand.
Savings are substantial
The cost of dental treatment in Australia, US, UK, Canada and Singapore is beyond reach for many families. For example, a porcelain veneer, used in a smile makeover, in Australia, can cost between $AUD1400-$2000 per tooth. The same treatment in Thailand can cost between $400-$600. The price gap is huge and the treatments performed in Thailand are typically performed by dental specialists compared to generalists in Australia who typically charge 30% higher from the above mentioned fees. But price is not everything to a typical patient. Patients are looking for added value such as dental clinics with international standards, JCI ( Joint Commission International ) accreditation, ability to communicate in their own language as well as fixed and transparent fees with no surprises.
Thailand is a Premier Travel Destination
Patients want to go where they can feel safe and have a wonderful travel experience from the time they arrive until they are ready to return home. It is not just about treatment for many patients. Thailand is one of the best destinations with a great infrastructure to support it. Bangkok has two major international airports and Phuket is undergoing major airport expansion and
renovation. Hotels are available for all types from a budget traveler to Ritzy jetsetters. Patients have options from a short hotel-stay to long-term stay at various serviced apartments. Thailand continues to attract worldwide food flavors to satisfy all types of cravings including great variety styles of Thai food. Individuals and families can both enjoy various activities from visiting postcard perfect beaches to hundreds of temples and bustling nightlife entertainment. There are no dress restrictions for women and families feel safe to walk the streets. To find a combination of these advantages is hard to find in other countries. For example, in India, the infrastructure is poor, the transportation can be a nightmare and flights are often not direct and long. Philippines has had too many safety concerns even for locals and Vietnam is still far behind
Thailand in terms of infrastructure.
Patients not only come to Thailand for medical and dental treatment but also range of other activities, such as shopping and entertainment.
Thailand is a stress-Free environment
Nothing is worse than having a treatment where everyone is stressed. By nature Thai people are very relaxed, and laid back. Patients enjoy the stress free culture where they do not have to argue their way to get things done. Other countries such as India, Vietnam and Philippines, patients are stressed out by the time they get to the clinic by honking car horns and hustling of the locals. A stress free environment improves general health and healing of the patients. There were other reasons that patients expressed for choosing Bangkok Smile MALO CLINIC for their dental care. Word of mouth was on top of the list
followed by Malo Clinic International patient guarantee program that allows patients to have access to Malo Clinic wide international network in 22 countries and 62 cities the world. One Aussie patient who was waiting to be admitted for his All On 4 full mouth rehabilitation surgery, told me that he was saving over AUS $20,000 by getting this treatment done in Thailand compared to his hometown in Perth. He said, “ I take a vacation with the money saved, I can make payments on my treatment, and I know I can follow up my care at a Malo Clinic back home. It is no brainer for me to come to Thailand”.