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Paata Ratiani: Medical Tourism in Georgia Could Become a Serious Accelerator of Health Economy Growth

As the Partnership Fund has announced, when the tender is accomplished, three hospitals in Tbilisi will be governed according to the model that takes into account private and state partnership.

It is planned those clinics to be equipped with modern machinery and international standards to be implemented, where staff training and quality growth takes place.

It is interesting, how much it is possible medical tourism to develop in Georgia  in the nearest  future, and what is the situation today in terms of the patients outflow.

Paata Ratiani, who is an International expert of Medical Tourism, an Advisory board member of the World Association of Medical tourism, and official representative in Georgia, is answering the questions of Jandacva.ge.

Mr. Paata, you know that three hospitals (Republican Hospital, Cancer Center and Children’s Infectious Diseases Hospital) development is planned in near future  according to Public-Private Partnership (PPP). In addition, 0.5 billion of investment will be spent on this project.

How could you evaluate these perspectives as a doctor or a businessman involved in medical tourism field?

  • There exists such consideration among medical tourism experts that the main trend of global health development is the creation of large clusters.
  • I do not have specific information on this project, so it is difficult for me to comment.
  • However, I welcome the steps taken towards the consolidation of hospitals and clinics. It is necessary, it not to be only one-time PR action and a long-term vision and strategy in the health care to be taken into account. Unfortunately, we have negative experience in the past.

It is known that under this project the staff was trained, the hospitals were totally renovated and equipped with modern machineries. How is this fact reflected in the staff work and accordingly, how it affected the quality of service.

This fact is reflected in how things work, and therefore, the quality of medical services?    

Inevitably, all the steps that take into account technical capability growth and staff training are very welcome. This process should be permanent that significantly improves healthcare services. The quality of medical services is very complex issue and it takes into account a lot of different components.

You as an expert could you let us know the exact or approximate number of the patients going abroad for treatment?

The number of patient going abroad for treatment continues growing. Unfortunately, the exact statistics do not exist. Additionally, it became very frequent visiting simple specialists abroad just for consultation. This indicates that the segment is becoming more and more massive. In my opinion, the situation is not expected to change meaningfully in the near future. In economically weak countries, reliable health care is unrealistic. Therefore, the demand is strong and firm on high –quality medical services.

It is quite expensive to go abroad for treatment moreover the insurance package does not cover these costs. How do you think, will it reduce the number of patients outflow from the country when setting developed and fully equipped hospitals? In addition, will it increase the reliability of the local medical services?

It is a cliché, that treatment in abroad is very expensive and luxury. Sometimes it is even possible to get high-quality medical services in high class hospitals in abroad in a cheaper way. However, the competition among hospitals is increasing, that significantly pushes down the prices. In my opinion the fact that hospitals will be equipped with high quality machineries will not reduce the outflow of patients from the country right away. It takes a very long times.