How to Become a Patient

Arranging for healthcare at Boston Children's Hospital is easy no matter where your family calls home. The first step is to obtain a referral or second opinion through a physician or to contact the International Center directly. Once you've registered your child with the hospital, our personal case coordinators will guide you through the rest of the process.

Becoming a patient involves four additional steps designed to streamline your family's planning and stay at the hospital: 1) medical review, 2) cost estimates, 3) financial screening, and 4) appointment scheduling.

Step 1: Medical Review

We begin every inquiry about care with a complete review of your child's current medical status. To start the medical review process, you'll need to fill out the international patient registration form. This form must be returned with your child's current medical history summary (no more than 30 days old) and copies of all pathology, laboratory, surgery, or diagnostic imaging reports. We ask that all information be provided In English, if possible.

Once the International Center receives the necessary materials, we'll forward them for review to the appropriate consulting physician at the hospital. (Consulting physicians are experienced attending physicians who hold faculty appointments at Harvard Medical School.) The review process generally takes 5 to 7 business days.

Please note: If a comprehensive remote medical review or second opinion is requested, of if a case requires physicians to evaluate pathology slides or imaging films from another hospital or clinic, hospital and physician fees may apply. The International Center will advise you in advance of the estimated costs associated with these services.

Once the review has been completed, we'll contact you (or your referring physician) with an assessment of your child's condition and, where appropriate, the proposed plan of care recommended by our specialists. This tentative plan of care will be confirmed or adjusted as needed during an in-person examination of your child at the hospital.

Step 2: Cost Estimates

Using the tentative plan of care, our staff will prepare a medical services cost estimate that itemizes the projected charges for hospital resources and physicians. Whenever possible, we'll also provide a detailed breakdown of any potential additional costs, such as medical equipment and supplies, pharmacy items, or outpatient therapy.

It's important to understand that this cost estimate is not a packaged price arrangement, nor does it represent the actual costs of diagnostic evaluation and subsequent treatment.

Our physicians and support staff work as a team to provide your family with an accurate medical and financial assessment. Until a physician examines your child at the hospital, however, it's impossible to identify all of the factors that can influence the diagnosis and treatment. The proposed plan of care may change once your child has been examined -- and even during treatment itself, based on the physician's recommendations. The cost estimate will be revised accordingly.

We understand that a hospital visit may entail additional, nonmedical costs for families, especially those who are traveling to the hospital from outside the Boston area. Our staff can advise you on the costs associated with hotel rooms or short-term housing in Boston, as well as transportation in and around the city.

Step 3: Financial Screening

Once the proposed plan of care and medical services cost estimate are in place, we'll review them with your family and work with you to verify your insurance coverage (including any restrictions and required co-payments) or obtain the appropriate letter of guarantee from a sponsor. The proof of insurance coverage or letter of guarantee must be provided to the International Center at least 5 days in advance of your child's first visit.

If your insurance coverage or sponsorship cannot be verified, you'll be required to pay the medical services cost estimate before your child's first appointment. The full estimate is required 5 days in advance of your child's visit. If you're not prepared to pay the full estimate at that time, any scheduled appointments may be postponed or cancelled. (Please note: For patients seeking care in the hospital's cardiology department, the full estimate is required 10 days in advance of the first visit.)

The medical services cost estimate and other hospital bills can be paid online. Boston Children's Hospital accepts U.S. bank checks, wire transfers, cash, and credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express). For more information, read the Frequently Asked Financial Questions or contact the International Center at 1-617-355-5209 or international.center@childrens.harvard.edu.

Step 4: Appointment Scheduling

Once the financial requirements have been met, we'll confirm all scheduled appointments. Your first appointment will always be with the International Center. It's best to schedule this appointment the day before your first clinical visit. This ensures that we have an opportunity to provide you with an updated appointment schedule, explain the services offered by the center and hospital, and identify any special needs your family may have.

To assist us in preparing for your visit, please complete and return our Medical Release Form. You must submit this written permission before we can release your health Information.

The International Center will remain your primary contact throughout your stay In Boston. At the time of your first visit, a personal case coordinator will be assigned to you and your family. This coordinator will serve as your personal guide to the hospital and will work closely with you to ensure that your child and family receive the best possible service and care.