26 September 2013
PMR (Pharmaceutical and healthcare market in CEE and CIS) talks to Mr Adrian P. Lubowiecki-Vikuk, PhD, an academic at the Faculty of Earth Sciences of the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Torun, an expert on medical tourism at the Polish Association of Medical Tourism, about the development potential of this segment in Poland, the characteristics of medical tourists, the medical services most frequently offered in medical tourism, and the consequences of the delay in the implementation of the Directive on cross-border health care in Poland.
Justyna Kukian: What is the potential for the development of medical tourism in Poland?
Adrian P. Lubowiecki-Vikuk: In the coming years the medical tourism market in Poland is expected to grow significantly. Among other reasons, this is due to the commercialisation and privatisation of the healthcare market in Poland.
In addition, medical tourism was included in the „Strategy for the development of tourism in Poland in 2007-2013”, as a highly competitive tourism product, and thus has been a priority area in the further expansion of the tourist market as a whole.
Medical tourists already come to Poland due to the short duration of treatments/operations; the attractive assortment (a wide range of services) and prices of medical services, which in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe are often as much as 60-80% lower than, for example, in the UK or the United States; the quality and standard of services; the use of modern medical devices and new technologies; and qualified medical staff (specialists in various fields of medicine, with a very good knowledge of foreign languages).
Another advantage is that Poland is also considered a tourist attraction.
Certainly, the Polish medical tourism market has no chance of competing with the Hungarian or Slovak markets (where this sector of the economy has enjoyed significant investment), but it has a good chance of becoming a competitive market to existing medical travel destinations such as Turkey, Thailand, India, and Singapore.
In which areas of medicine does Poland have the best development prospects in terms of medical tourism?
General surgery (especially neurosurgery), dentistry, aesthetic medicine, ophthalmology, infertility treatment, and rehabilitation. Of course, the choice depends on the individual needs of the customer, hence general diagnosis and prevention services are also important. The present-day consumer wants to combine travel services with the consumption of medical services.
What was the value of the medical tourism market in Poland in 2012?
For sure, we can speak of growth, although it should be noted that in Poland no statistics in this are kept by medical facilities, or even by the few medical tourism agencies existing in the country. Private clinics do not disclose the data because it is their trade secret. No one has to date conducted any surveys on this topic – it is a challenge awaiting Polish researchers.
It is known that the global market for medical tourism is now experiencing growth, which is proved by facts including the rising level of spending on consumption of tourism and medical services. In 2012 this figure was up to $100bn (€75bn). The estimates of the Polish Association of Medical Tourism showed that in 2011, foreign patients spent approximately PLN 800m (€190m) in Poland on a variety of medical tourism services.
What nationalities are the medical tourists who come to Poland?
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We are proud that they mention our expert dr. Adrian Lubowiecki- Vikuk
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