Medical tourism is certainly nothing new. It has been around for more than a century now. But it’s been growing substantially in the last few decades.
As inflation soars around the world, private healthcare is likely to become costlier in Western Europe and the United States, leading to a growing interest in affordable private healthcare destinations in Europe.
Medical tourism in Poland grows year on year
In Poland, the number of patients from abroad has been soaring. According to statistics from the Polish Association of Medical Tourism, Polish dentists and doctors saw more than 488,000 foreign patients in 2016.
Dentist Anna Sarzynska, who owns a clinic in Gdansk, says her client list is 80 per cent international patients. The clients come from Scandinavia, the UK and Ireland. Such is the influx of foreign patients; she now has extra staff helping these patients with hotel bookings and sightseeing tours.
Many Polish medical tourist facilities in Poland would like to see more Government support and assistance. Szymon Piatkowski, head of CEE healthcare advisory at PwC, believes that the plastic surgery and dentistry sectors have considerable room for growth. He says the Polish medical tourism market is still in its infancy. At the moment, only essential treatments are offered, but the country has substantial experience across the healthcare spectrum. There is high demand for treatments from Soviet Bloc medical tourists who may not have access to high-quality surgery.
But what of the neighbouring countries? Well, most have been seeing a similar increase in medical tourists. In other parts of Europe, medical tourism destinations such as Turkey and Hungary are also doing exceptionally well.
Turkey is number one for hair transplants
Turkey has built a strong reputation for delivering affordable and high-quality hair transplants. Patients worldwide are known to go to Turkey for hair transplant surgery. The country is also a popular choice for dental treatments and chronic healthcare – the latter due to the fact the country has more than 30 Joint Commission International (JCI) accredited hospitals. Turkey’s government collaborates strongly with the local healthcare industry, resulting in the ability to offer incentives such as reduced fares for medical tourists who fly via Turkish Airlines. Turkey also plans to introduce tax-free healthcare zones in the future.
Spain focuses on health and wellness tourism
Spain has many large hospitals and well-established clinics catering for international patients, but treatment prices are higher than Eastern European destinations. Healthcare services platform Spaincares claims that the country welcomes 140,000 medical tourists annually, with the largest number of patients coming from the UK. Spain has also renewed its focus on promoting health tourism, including medical, wellness and mental health services across its beautiful landscape.
Hungary appeals for low-cost dental treatment
When it comes to cost-conscious dental treatment, Hungary is a leading destination. Implants costing 1500 Euros in the west can be bought for just 800 Euros here. More than 7000 active dental clinics in the country perform the highest number of dental tourism procedures in Europe. The small town of Mosonmagyarorvar on the Austrian border has the highest density of dental practices per capita.
Croatia emerges as the one to watch in the Mediterranean
As a new competitor in the European medical tourism market, Croatia has bags of potential. Croatia is being recognized as an emerging star for high-quality dentistry, and the cost of treatment is similar to neighbouring countries such as Turkey. A growing number of reputable dental practices are attracting international patients from the UK and other parts of Western Europe. The beauty of Croatia’s azure waters and picturesque towns adds to the visiting appeal for patients seeking dental treatment in a high-quality, safe and regulated European destination.
Elsewhere, the Czech Republic is making a name for itself in cataract surgery, while in Cyprus there is a growing interest in developing the private medical sector for medical tourists.
The good news for patients in Western Europe and Scandinavia, where the cost of private healthcare is considerably high, is that affordable and quality treatment is only a couple of hours away within the borders of Europe. With the resumption of global air travel, international medical tourism has officially resumed.
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