Medical tourists in locations like Mexico, China or India come from everywhere for cosmetic surgery or other treatments. European tourists discuss health care in Bangkok and Canadians go through the US for Latin American hospitals.

Millions of people fly across the world for medical and cosmetic services. They are part of “medical tourism,” which is described by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention as “a worldwide, multibillion-dollar phenomenon.” In 2007 a privately funded study found approximately 540,000 Americans traveled overseas for care in the previous year.

How do they take that important step? By planning, references from local doctors and friends and contacts in the host country.

“Personal contacts work best,” says San Francisco entrepreneur Robert Hemphill. “If you know somebody in the country, start with them.”

Potential patients often research according to the countries that interest them or by the treatment required. Some countries, such as India, are popular for heart surgeries. Others, like Mexico, are known for excellence in dental work.

Accreditation is vital. Determine that the hospital, department and doctor you will work with are accredited by Joint Commission International (JCI), a private, nonprofit affiliate of the same nonprofit that accredits U.S. hospitals, the JCOHA. As of 2012, JCI has accredited more than 400 hospitals in 27 countries.

You will be please to know that Angeles Health in Tijuana is scheduled for JCI accreditation and is the first hospital in the Angeles network scheduled to do so. Please fill in the form on the right for further details.