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MEDEX 360m Rates the State of Global Medical Care for Travelers

New MEDEX Global Group/Harvard Medical International Website goes beyond Typical 'Best' and 'Worst' Lists and Reveals the Lesser-Known Factors

Affecting the Quality of International Healthcare

BALTIMORE, Nov. 29 /PRNewswire/ -- Determining health risks and the quality of medical care travelers encounter can be incredibly complex. According to the just published MEDEX 360m International Healthcare Rating System, high standards of care go beyond surgical skills, precise diagnostics and availability of antibiotics; many other factors must be considered.

Developed by MEDEX Global Group and Harvard Medical International, this rating system combines assessments of a country's medical capabilities and services with an understanding of the real-world circumstances and cultural sensitivities that can also affect travelers.

The 236 countries covered by MEDEX 360m are rated on a five-point scale, in four categories: health risks, remoteness from and ease of access to quality care, cultural challenges impacting care and acceptable quality of care. More than a compilation of "bests and worsts," MEDEX 360m ratings are part of the comprehensive, destination reports MEDEX provides to clients.

"The baseline for the International Healthcare Rating assessments is the availability of competent medical professionals, life-saving equipment and medications. However, we find that it is a tremendous help if travelers are aware of some key factors that can play a pivotal role in the care they receive," explains Pascaline Wolfermann, director for MEDEX's Emergency Response Center.

Often under-examined by travelers is the threat of trauma posed by traffic accidents, particularly in countries where road safety regulations are not strenuously enforced or are non-existent. Likewise, proximity to quality care is a critical factor in a patient's prognosis; this is particularly important when serious medical problems arise in a rural area. "Travelers visiting remote areas need to be aware of how quickly they will be able to access quality facilities in urban centers," says Wolfermann.

The ratings also reveal that even modern societies can present surprising cultural barriers to healthcare. MEDEX 360m gives a lower rating to countries, like Japan, where factors including communication and cultural attitudes about the use of pain medication may differ from Western standards. Wolfermann, while acknowledging that the rating criteria are decidedly Western European/North America-centric, says that these factors are important for the majority of MEDEX's constituency.

In Santiago, Chile, where private hospitals are among South America's finest, rooms are designed like hotel suites. Family members are encouraged to stay with the patient, providing moral support and companionship. In Spain, family members are also encouraged to stay and are expected to tend to patient feeding and hygiene needs (instead of nurses). "This custom can certainly affect travelers' perceptions of the care," adds Wolfermann.

For a sampling of top and bottom country ratings:

MEDEX is one of the world's leading providers of emergency assistance, medical and security evacuations, and international medical insurance to travelers. Harvard Medical International is a not-for-profit subsidiary of Harvard Medical School.

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