«Greece is an ideal destination for Health Tourism»

Petros Mamalakis, Founder & CEO Vitabooking

How would you describe the platform of Vitabooking? How and how long ago did the
idea arise? Who is this idea addressed to? What criteria did you use to select the
professionals in the field of medical tourism to associate with Vitabooking?

Vitabooking is a hub of health services where anyone from abroad interested in them could have access to, at a much lower cost and no waiting lists. Patients may plan their treatments at certified Greek hospitals and receive the best medical care from doctors while Vitabooking is taking care of all the details concerning their trip.
Vitabooking is addressed to all patients, foreign and expatriates. Vitabooking’s criteria for selecting its associates are quality of services provided and certification by International Accreditation Organisations. Both criteria can ensure that the patient will receive the best possible services.

    How did the need for such a platform arise?

According to research done by McKinsey in 2011, Medical Tourism will  constitute one of the eight growth levers of the Greek economy for the  forthcoming decade. The results from the research have actually  confirmed the views of major private health institutions and tourist  organisations in Greece, which have contributed to the country’s emergence, slowly but steadily, to this new market.
Up until now, despite all the good health units in Greece which can provide significant and qualitative health services, there has been limited awareness and communication about them. Some medical institutions have made efforts to attract patients, but access to health services is not so easy. Vitabooking is a functional cluster of services, technologically up to date, which was created to offer the

  • Complete information on the range of therapies that are available at top medical centers in Greece and comparison of prices with the country of origin of each patient 
  • Complete presentation of partner hospitals with description, videos and photos of facilities,infrastructure, services and doctors.
  • Optional provision of interpretation and translation services .
  • Communication channel between the patient's doctor and the Greek doctor.
  • Air tickets, hotel reservations, transportation services
  • Assistance in all bureaucratic & procedural matters, documents and claims of issurance companies
  • Tourist activities for patients or for their family members.

Which field of medicine have most people shown interest in?

 IVF and ophthalmological services are the services with most demand in Greece and
  are offered at a high level of quality. In addition, there is a great demand for
  Ophthalmology, Orthopedic and Plastic Surgery.

To what extend and why would Greeks of Diaspora prefer to come to Greece?

    The Greeks of Diaspora have been of great help to our goals due to the bounds with
    the motherland. In the last two years a number of actions have been taken such as the
    organisation of congresses about Health Tourism in Greece. These congresses were
    made under the auspices of the International Health Tourism Center, the collaboration
    of Athens Medical Association and Central Union of Greek Municipalities, under the
    chairmanship of Dr. Patoulis. The first stop was New York in October, 2016.
    Montreal and Chicago followed in March and April, 2017. Next major event was in
    Melbourne, on 25 & 26 November 2017, where about 300.000 people of Greek
    descend live. These people come to Greece for many reasons: quality medical
    services at low cost and an enjoyable trip to Greece to see their homeland, their family
    and their beloved ones.

What are the benefits of Greece in the medical tourism sector?

The high level of education and training of medical staff at prestigious universities, the experience of medical staff, the investments that have been done in recent years in the private sector hospitals with the state of art medical equipment, international certifications and contracts with large private insurance companies, lower prices and short waiting lists as well as the excellent climate we have make our country, the home of Hippocrates, one of the most trusted health tourism destinations.

How much cheaper are medical services in Greece compared with those abroad? How
much an IVF or a face lifting would cost?

An in vitro- fertilization in Greece costs roughly 3.000-5000€ while in America and Canada it costs around 20.000€.

Why do you think that citizens of foreign countries choose Greece? Are there any standard therapies?

For all of the advantages that I talked about before. Also for the fact that in Greece there are categories of medical services with a Greek comparative advantage such as hemodialysis, rehabilitation centers, thermal baths and artificial reproduction. For the last, top medical scientists of international recognition, such as Constantine Pantos,
have developed IVF in innovative ways that have been recognized internationally.

How can a medical practioner be included in the platform of vitabooking?

There is no participation cost.The professionals of the site are chosen on the basis of their own certification and the quality of the services that they can provide. A B2B contract is signed between the Health & Tourism providers and Vitabooking platform stating all details of the professional relationship and the obligations of each side.This
contract’s aim is promotion and proper management of any incoming patients who want to come to Greece to receive services.

Are there any Infographics of tourists who are motivated to choose Greece for
medical reasons? Are these tourists also consumers? (hotels, museums, shops etc.)
Could you please describe the profile of an average traveler?

Absolutely. In recent years many couples from the the U.S, Australia, Italy, England, Germany and France have chosen Greece to do an IVF and have a child. Apart from high success rates is the in the IVF sector, one of the reasons why they come is the progressive Greek legislative framework. In Italy and Germany egg donation is forbidden. After they have received their medical services, what is more natural than staying and enjoying some holiday time at various destinations of the country?

Does the state help? Is there a national strategy for medical tourism in Greece? Which country should we have as a model?

A study conducted by the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine shows that generally Greece, as a provider of medical tourism, has good infrastracture with respect to medical and hotel equipment and many good doctors in many specialties, but it lags behind in institutional framework, organization and marketing. In short, the state hasn’t really helped to promote Health Tourism, unlike Turkey,which with the
support from the state has managed to successfully be one of the first countries in this field.

Our country has the potential to play an important role in the fast -growing segment of the "mainstream market" of medical tourism through low-cost services, high level of scientific excellence, medical staff experience and modern infrastructure for health.
However, Greece needs to take a lot more actions in the sector of medical tourism. The country must establish a national strategy for a competitive position of Greece in the global medical tourism market. and introduce modern practices for ensuring quality.Also, steps must be taken with respect to licensing , the framework of controls, the specialization of the product offered and the reduction of treatment cost through economies of scale. Last, it is necessary to attract patients via international networks and offer medical products with the required ancillary services for the patients-visitors. There are many pioneering countries in the field of Health Tourism. Hungary and Serbia are leading in Europe, while India, Thailand, Mexico, Costa Rica and Cuba are lεading worldwide.