Taking advantage of its privileged location in the old continent, being able to offer beach, country and city plans only minutes away from each other, its amazing weather and openness to welcome foreigners Portugal is now a strong player in the provision of Medical Tourism services.
The combination of a long tradition of high-quality touristic offers with state-of-the-art private medical infrastructures, available 24*7, with spotless facilities and private rooms, as well as highly qualified patient-oriented medical teams, fluent in different languages, are the basic ingredients for an high-quality Medical Tourism offer in Portugal.
According to the Portugal Health System Review 2011 report, from the European Observatory of Health Systems and Policies:
All residents in Portugal have access to health care provided by the National Health Service (NHS), financed mainly through taxation. Approximately one-fifth to a quarter of the population enjoys a second (or more) layer of health insurance coverage through health subsystems and voluntary health insurance. Health care delivery is based on both public and private providers. Public provision is predominant in primary care and hospital care, with a gatekeeping system in place for the former. Pharmaceutical products, diagnostic technologies and private practice by physicians constitute the bulk of private health care provision.
In the last decades many measures have been adopted to improve the performance of the NHS, including public–private partnerships (PPPs) for new hospitals, a change in public hospital management structures, the reorganization of primary care and the creation of long-term care networks.
Portugal’s Key Public Health Indicators are well above European average according to the World Health Organization, namely life expectancy at birth, life expectancy at age 60 and neonatal mortality rates, reinforcing the quality of the Portuguese Healthcare system. As an example, the mortality rate has declined more than 0.8 percentage points since 1975. This trend reflects both an improved access to an expanding health care network and a continuous political commitment, and leads to improved living standards and increasing investment in health care.
All hospitals belonging to the NHS are in the public sector, reporting to the Ministry of Health. Private sector hospitals, where 3 major groups have 80% of the market share, operate under their own management policies.
Additionally, Portugal has around 4 physicians/1000 inhabitants – a value well above the European average – trained by demanding Medical Schools, where just top students are allowed to attend.
Further more, in Portugal 30% of the population is fluent in English, 20% in French, 10% in Spanish. These percentages are considerably higher in the services sector and especially in the health care sector, where the medical bibliography is mainly accessible in English and French.
In line with the Portuguese hospitality, the country’s medical teams give the personal and human care patients need. They have the vocation and make the time for it.
Besides analyzing major trends on health indicators in Portugal, another curious marker of the country’s performance are, naturally, blogs, in which foreigners living in Portugal share their experiences. Living In the Sun, the blog of a British citizen living in Portugal states that “by conducting adequate research and ensuring that you have gone through the correct processes, you can be sure that you will receive the same high quality health care that you are used to getting in the UK. The Portuguese health system is very efficient and has an extremely good reputation for standards of care, so you will certainly not be jeopardizing your health by moving here!”.
A LONG TRADITION OF PRIZES AND AWARDS
Just to highlight the most recent ones:
- Lisbon was awarded Europe’s Leading City Break Destination 2013 by the World Travel Awards;
- The magazine “Condé Nast Traveller” elected Portugal the best destination to travel in 2013;
- The guide “Lonely Planet” classified Oporto and the Douro Valley as the first destination in Europe to be visited in 2013;
- TripAdvisor website visitors elected Lisbon as the best city in the world for its quality/price relationship;
- The British journal “The Telegraph” named the Alentejo region as “the paradise for food lovers” at the beginning of 2013;
- Portugal won the prize for the best golf destination in Europe in 2012 and was elected as the best destination for golf holidays by international travel agencies in the scope of the Travel Agent Choice Awards.
MAKING THE RIGHT DECISION
When it comes to Medical Tourism decisions, we want, first of all, to be sure about the quality of the healthcare provider’s infrastructures and teams. But there is much more beyond this. In Portugal, patients are having their medical treatments in one of the safest countries in the world – 18th out of 162 in the Global Peace Index 2013 of the Institute of Economics & Peace –, whilst hosted by highly professional medical teams that hold the warm and humane touch that characterizes Portuguese nature.
In Portugal, patients can take advantage of the country’s warm and sunny weather, where mild winters allow outside treatments, combining the sun’s healing capacities with advanced medical programs. And shortly after, one can choose to play golf, go to the beach, do exquisite river cruises, or go on a shopping spree, in one of the safest and language-savvy countries in the world. All together, this configures a safe and very attractive ecosystem for Medical Tourism in Europe.