Medical Tourism and Advertising From the myth to the prejudice

The way we live today is completely different from what our parents did, not to mention our grandparents. We can not trick ourselves. Today’s life is faster, the flow of info data and people is exponentially higher mind and there’s a strong tendency to increase even more. Nowadays we have access to information very quickly, accurately and safely, we do stuff on a mobile phone, like bank transfers, book plane tickets, car trips, we order food comfortably, there is a whole set of activities like founding a new company in just one hour, whereas 15 years ago it took weeks and several visits.

Health has a similar trend, but we can’t neglect the required methods and firmness that we always have to put in practice when we talk about people and, more importantly, when we talk about health and people’s well-being, which is much more precious than what anyone aims to have or protect their loved ones.

Medicine, a new era

We have online medical appointments, we have TV-Medicine, meetings between physicians by videoconference, we live in a digital area, of technology, and breakthroughs pop up with a unprecedented speed, in the areas of prevention, diagnosis, treatment, follow-up.

When we started talking about medical tourism in Portugal in the last two decades, we often encounter the typical trip to paradisiacal destinations and 2-week journey packs, with tourists taking advantage of it and performed medical procedures, often in the field of plastic surgery and dental practice.

Success vs. Failure

And, like in everything in life, in success stories and in those of absolute failure, we find true nightmares with limitations and disfigurations for the patients involved. Obviously, as in any other area, there are serious professionals and curricula that allow them to carry out procedures rigorously, safely and greatly. And, then, there are the curious ones, the artists, the skilled with strategic learning shortcomings, true Medicine shortcuts and able to repeat some medical buzzwords. But that’s not enough to do it in a noble manner, when we talk about as something as serious and rigorous as Medicine.

How do we look at Medical Tourism?

dos Médicos Dentists who accompanies us, legislates, and gives us the rules so that we can advertise our services, but always in a way that will never hurt our colleagues, so that we can always live in a cordial way, united by the spirit of science, by the search for treatments innovative, better materials, and in a spirit of mutual aid between peers. We CERO Team, we already asked for help, we already helped, we worked together with other teams and colleagues, which is normal in a profession as specific and demanding as ours

Why do we advertise our treatments?

When we advertise our services, our facilities, our own curricula, we even show the faces of our entire team, so that our patients, our future clients can get to know who we are, our services, our facilities, so you will feel a bit like part of this great Family that is CERO already during the first visit. And, during the appointments, we present several cases of other patients who we treated previously, so that each patient can identify with the different possibilities of treatment, also allowing them to check and verify that we can attain the goals we set. We’re just not building castles in the sand…

Another reason to spread what we do is that we enjoy that those who follow us, for instance in social media, realize, long before they decide to visit us, whether that kind of treatment may or may not meet their expectations.

We must not forget that we live in a society that is increasingly informed and more prepared to discuss solutions, to be a key part of the decision-making process. Our team, clinicians and patients are all part of the same solution. We collaborate at the same decision level. That old paternalistic view of a physician who treated the patient almost impersonally, by “son or girl”, and even treated patients in a depersonalized manner, has been shelved for good. We also have a duty to show our facilities with Google virtual tours, so that the patient can visualize the sort of environment where they will be treated, even before going to the clinic, hence curbing the stress and anxiety levels, arriving at a more familiar environment.

In search of the peacefulness that excellence demands

We are very serene with our work, we do what we like, we do something for which we have been prepared and trained, therefore your treatment falls within extensive margins of security and predictability, we are perfectly qualified to accomplish what we want to.

Our training and accumulated experience

Be absolutely sure of one thing: we do nothing that we are not highly trained for and prepared to do. We fall into a category of professionals who accomplish what they promise. Not only do we say and claim that we do it, we do it indeed and, for this reason, yet another one, we show what we do in our videos. The other reason is that, simply put, our followers and patients asked us to reveal things. And, for the sake of truth, those who don’t want to see it, whom we respect equally, because they can’t or simply don’t want to, have that legitimate right, simply by not opening the videos or images with contents of treatments and more explicit surgeries.

Always the old prejudice

When we talk about Medical Tourism, one of the first things that come to mind is prejudice.
Prejudice about the unknown; prejudice about traveling to another location, the patient’s prejudice of being seen by a highly specialized team; prejudice about something new; prejudice for any reason whatsoever.
In the beginning, when this topic started to be discussed in Portugal, we all also had this prejudice.

Natural selection

Like everything in life, those who don’t evolve end up vanishing. It reminds us a little of when, in 2010, the Portuguese Dental Association forced the legalization of every Clinic and Dentistry establishment. I crossed paths with several situations of older colleagues, and others not so old, who simply preferred to close their clinics, and start to work for someone else, than to upgrade their facilities and adapt them to our day. Everything evolves, like the concept of patient/client itself, with the due letter of their rights and duties always protected by both parties. Gone are the days when there was very little supply in the national market for dental treatments. There were situations when those who performed dental treatments were not even dentists. From usurpers of titles and functions, to curious individuals and criminals, everyone had their place under the cloak of malpractice, which was Dentistry’s reality back then. And, during those times, since there was very little supply, each clinic had many patients, and if there was frustration or lack of quality control, the end was always the same: if this patient doesn’t come back, there are thirty other individuals at the door waiting to book an appointment. And, amid so much atrocity, of so much illegality, of so many poorly executed treatments (something still reflected in older patients who come now to our clinics), the best recipe was no words, no advertising, no disclosure.

KEEP THIS IN MIND!

I’m not trying to say, not even ironically or slyly, that there were no top-notch medical procedures and professionals, quite the opposite. There were also lots of usurpers of titles and functions, because the strict control enforced by the Dental Association was something nonexistent back then.
Is there anyone who never heard the story of the clinic where the owner died or retired and become an assistant during appointments? Or the story of the fourth-grader dentist who left the army and plucked teeth out? Or the lab tech, the famous “tooth mechanic”, who also fix stuff in mouths without the law allowing him to?

Historical Facts In Portuguese Dental Medicine

We must not forget that the first Dental Medicine Degree in Portugal dates back to the early 80s and that our Dental Association, formerly attached to the Portuguese Medical Association, dates back to 1998. Therefore, everything is still very recent, quite young, from a historical point of view and, in this way, we can say that the Association itself has been growing and learning with the dentists, and we learn from it as well, when it comes to interpreting these new times and this new era of digitization and social media.
And, with this, our generation of Portuguese Dentists in activity is the most differentiated, the most specialized we have ever had. Proof of this is the number of Portuguese professionals who are very well accepted in other countries that require our professionals, where there is a surplus within our borders, to other countries where there is a shortage.

Why Portugal?

And with these excellent skills, Portugal and its Dentists have become the perfect destination for Medical Tourism, combining the indisputable qualities of our country, that we all know, with the qualities of the Dentists. And for those who don’t know us, we rely on advertising to disseminate our work, always in a proper and friendly manner, without unfair competition among colleagues, without lies, deceit, without promising things we aren’t sure will work, or something that a professional cannot do but uses as “bait” or misleading advertising. And, for all these reasons, and some more that don’t fit in this short article, I sincerely believe that we should spread our work, what we do well and often, those treatments to which we dedicate much of our professional activity. Every Dentist follows their own path, we are not all the same, we are a profession, a very polymorphic medical specialty, deeply heterogenous and that is why we reveal the summary of our curricula also on our website with our photographs. There are no secrets, no shame, quite the opposite, there is great pride involved.

Prejudice as a capital sin

Imagine that, instead of Medical Tourism, we would call it International Medical Treatment. With a bit of luck, I would register this name as an international society and there would be no lack of members wanting to pay fees to be able to say that they are part of the Portuguese Society for International Medical Treatment. Like everything in life, sometimes the issue is nomenclature.

Bottom line

And, finally, we have, as Doctors and Clinic Owners, as entrepreneurs, to know how to create the proper conditions of safety, quality, comfort and clinical strictness, providing them to a patient who comes to us, to the point where they feel at home.
For us at CERO, medical tourism does not only mean that we welcome foreign clients and from outside of Portugal. Not at all! In addition to these, we welcome our patients and fellow countrymen who are living abroad, just like we welcome our compatriots from other cities in Portugal, not only from Lisbon or Almada.
And, for our patients who live nearby the clinics, they will be equally well treated and welcome, like those who visit us from far away.
As a farewell, and whimsically speaking, we guarantee that we do don’t work like some establishments in our country that have dedicated themselves to Tourism so much, that they preset us the menu in several languages but not in Portuguese, and treat us badly for not being tourists in our own country!!! … Democracy and equal rights are breathed in our Cero Clinics, like in any country of law.
And we want the image of medical tourism, as they call it, to be less negative and biased. God knows why that happens, because, ultimately, our hands are always the ones accountable to do a quality work, with accuracy, professionalism and seriousness.
We provide support right from the airport, to the hotel and appointments.
Since the appointments will be shorter in quantity, they will be extended in time, and instead of having patients coming to the clinic 6 or 7 times, we do periods of a whole morning or afternoon, and our team, with all the specialties of Dental Medicine, dedicates itself in a holistic way to each patient, making their smile unique, adapted to their expectations and anatomic and physiological conditions.

See you soon and don’t forget to be happy. After all, smiling doesn’t hurt …
If that’s your case, if smiling causes you pain, nausea, or imbalance, check with your dentist…
Until next time!
Dr. Luis Pinheiro – Oral Surgeon @CERO

Dr. Luis Pinheiro

Dr. Luis Pinheiro

- Luis Pinheiro, Dentist with exclusive practice in Oral Surgery and Implantology

- Accountable for the Oral Surgery and Implantology Department at C.E.R.O.

- Master’s Degree in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at Eastman Dental Institute of the University College of London

- International Scientific Consultant of D.I.S. – dental implant system

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