Literally a lifetime of patient expectation is often invested in IVF. For those international patients and practitioners seeking the best outcomes, pro-active management and quality control are crucial to stacking the odds in their favor. But how is this best accomplished?
One clear prerequisite is a comprehensive clinical assessment from the patient’s complete medical history (including failure history with any previous fertility or IVF treatments). To properly convey and interpret this information, effective coordination with the patient’s primary physician can be a huge advantage. Often the primary physician can convey a total picture – including less obvious intangibles – that might be overlooked by the IVF specialist.
It would seem that the patient’s primary or home physicians would naturally be cooperative and helpful once injected into this process, but that is not guaranteed. It may take pro-active guidance and direction from the patient to ensure effective clinical communication on her behalf. This may be especially true if her primary physicians have little or no experience with medical tourism and seldom (if ever) communicate with international counterparts on behalf of their patients, or there are cultural and language barriers which need bridging. Medical tourism facilitators with strong logistical and translation expertise can play a significant role in easing this process, although ultimate responsibility – including choosing the correct facilitator for her needs - still rests with the patient.
Factored into the IVF treatment abroad must be the risks associated with overseas exposure, in the context of the patient’s profile. For example, different regions present different innoculation requirements prior to travel, which may impact the timetables for travel and any clinical procedures which are part of the IVF process. On the flip side, there may be constraints associated with the patient’s trip home. Travel is inherently stressful and care should be taken not to convey the patient too soon after fertilization. The patient must be properly monitored for potential complications.
It is crucial to ensure that the patient’s Physicians abroad have adequate training and preparation to attend to these unique considerations associated with their international IVF patients. In this respect, organizations dedicated to the Quality of Care and Continuing Education of International Health Practitioners in IVF procedures are indispensable resources for Patients and Providers alike.
The patient’s ethnicity and cultural preferences must be taken into account, on several levels:
Firstly, a good outcome is more likely when the patient is properly matched to a destination where she will be the most comfortable. Among various international options which present strong clinical quality/history and attractive pricing, the best cultural fit may not be obvious, especially where the patient has never previously visited the countries under consideration. Providers and facilitators alike can help articulate the patient’s total requirements.
Secondly, hopeful mothers-to-be often have preferences on ethnic compatibility. If the IVF procedure includes egg donation, the patient should be confident in having accurate information on the ethnicity of the donor. Moreover, on a strictly clinical level for best outcomes, the quality of donated eggs is a crucial consideration. A facility’s verifiable track record on egg donation criteria is crucial.
Naturally it is far easier to outline what must be done than it is for patient and providers to fulfill all expectations, culminating in that magical baby that everyone is hoping for. But pro-active patients and facilitators, assured they are teamed with international IVF providers having the best technical preparation, bring that dream closer than ever before.
Scott Schneider is the Director of Communications at the International Board of Medicine and Surgery (IBMS), an organization uniquely dedicated to certifying and training the Finest Physicians and Surgeons in the world. IBMS is currently upgrading its Continuing Medical Education Course for IVF Physicians. Please visit www.ibms.usfor more information.