Poland and Medical Tourism

Known for its mountains, gothic castles, and natural beauty, Central Europe attracts tourists throughout the years. People come here to discover the history and culture of the countries and to enjoy their vacation. Apart from playing host to people who want to enjoy their peace, Central Europe attracts foreign tourists for its medical tourism in the past two decades. The medical tourism has gained so much popularity that it is a part of the economic plans of many Central and Eastern European countries.

The Central European Countries, especially Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic, are famous destinations for medical tourism. Known for medical resorts, spas, and thermal springs, these countries attract tourists from the United States of America, Canada, and Great Britain, and other European countries. A million US residents travel abroad (to Asia and Central Europe) for medical facilities, and the amount spent is around 20 billion dollars every year. The reason for this is that the cost of medical services in the United States skyrockets. More than 10% of

Americans don’t have medical insurance, and even those who have insurance cannot afford ridiculously high prices. By traveling abroad, Americans save more than a thousand dollars on medical expenses, and it is a similar case in the United Kingdom. Poland and other Central European countries have the edge over these superpowers, and they seized this opportunity by offering less expensive medical treatments. Members of European Union countries can avail free cross border treatment (implemented in 2014). The new policy gave another great opportunity to Central European countries to prove their prowess in the field of medical tourism. This draws a lot of citizens from the European Union countries to Poland, Hungary, and other Central European parts for medical tourism and a lovely holiday. 

Out of all the Central European countries, Poland was the best at making use of this opportunity. Coming out of the shadows, Poland presented herself at many international trade fairs, putting across medical tourism plans and organizing tours for people from different nationalities. By setting goals and clearly defining its path, Poland established herself as a destination for medical tourism. Poland came up with the ‘Poland medical tourism program’ as a three-year plan, 2012- 2015, setting Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America as the target markets. This was achieved after hospitals and clinics urged the government to promote the medical tourism industry. Heeding to the petition, the government undertook a project worth 5 million euros, funded by the European Union. After this project was taken up, ‘Medical Travel Partner Poland’ stepped up to undertake these projects. Ever since then, Poland has been presenting the medical tourism campaigns at international trade fairs and inviting the visitors. The Polish medical tourism program has been establishing its brand by organizing study tours for foreign journalists and workshops and marketing training to the providers. As a result of their marketing success, Poland 155,000 medical tourists, 48,000 health centers, and a lot more clinics and other segmented parts, in 2016, and the numbers have only risen from then onwards. As of now, the medical tourism industry is growing at a rate of more than 15% yearly (according to Grail Research analysis).

The specialized areas of Poland:

The popular services that people use in Poland’s medical tourism are dental services, neuro and cardio treatments, orthopedic treatments, and plastic surgeries. Patients also get to choose rehabilitation in their package. 

The most popular medical procedures:

  1. Plastic surgery (breast and liposuction)
  2. Orthopedics (knee replacement and rehabilitation)
  3. Cardiology (by-passes) 
  4. Dentistry (implants)

Here is how Poland has the edge over other countries when it comes to medical tourism.

The cost of health care in Poland is cheaper by at least 40% compared to other European countries. This reduction can go up to 80%. Easy access to world-class specialists, modern equipment, and flexible laws for emergency and non-emergency procedures gives Poland a competitive edge over other countries. Its central location, easy access, and popularity as a tourist destination is just the feather in the hat that it needs. The timely project undertaken by Poland has paid off very well. It now has over 500,000 foreign patients every year. 

Scope for improvement

In spite of modern methods, world-class specialists, and the number of tourists, Poland has got a lot to improve. The need to invest in marketing is now more than ever. Sure, Poland has gained a lot of popularity for medical tourism, but it needs to invest in marketing the industry to keep up with its momentum. The aid of the government in the private medical sector is of unsurmountable importance because the private sector plays a very crucial role in driving the industry. Improving public services in the country helps in attracting more foreign tourists.

Other Central European destinations

As the biggest Central European country, Poland earned a significant position in the medical tourism industry, but there are other countries that deserve to be mentioned. Hungary, Belgium, and the Czech Republic are a few among the other countries that attract multitudes of people from different parts of the world (mostly from Europe).

Hungary is famous for its thermal springs (approximately 1500 in number). It is also chosen as the destination for procedures like heart and orthopedic, heart transplants, and cancer treatments. 

Followed by Hungary, Belgium, Czech Republic (famous for cataract surgeries), and Spain are other notable destinations for medical tourism. 

Although these countries are performing well, adopting the methods of Poland helps these countries in developing better services and, as an end result, deliver better services to the rest of the world. The flexible laws of Poland to admit foreign patients, its principle of not letting non-emergency patients wait, the relations with other departments of tourism, and its timely marketing strategies- adopting these methods will help Hungary and Czech Republic explore the unlimited potential in the industry and to reach greater heights. With the help of the European Union and other international offices, Central Europe will soon play host to numerous foreigners looking for better and cheaper health care services.