Interview with Medical Port’s CEO, Belén de Vicente, with the founder Vinay Grover, of online healthcare portal
HealthAndCare.in: What’s the role of Medical Port as the first truly Global Medical Tourism Facilitator in promoting medical tourism in Portugal?
Belén de Vicente: The role of Medical Port has been quite important at this stage in which Portugal is not yet known as a medical tourism destination. This lack of awareness requires an approach mainly centered in “educating” potential target markets so they understand our capacity to deliver. In a short sentence, we are building the credibility and reputation of the country in this business.
Additionally, our role is also very much centered in promoting the reasons why patients should elect Portugal for their medical treatments or surgeries abroad (see question 3 on this topic) and with a much focused strategy in terms of target markets and customized packages. When you are not known you can’t pretend to have a general approach.
As compared to other nations like United States, Malaysia, Thailand and India, where Portugal stands as far as cost comparisons for most common procedures for example like Heart Bypass, Dental Implant, Knee Replacement and Lap Band/Bariatric are concerned?
Belén de Vicente: As to overall savings, and this depends very much on the country of origin, clients can save anything between 30 and 80% in some cases. As an example, a total knee replacement in the United States costs between 45,000 and 60,000$ whilst thru Medical Port a patient can do the same procedure in Portugal in internationally certified hospitals and with top physicians for a little over 20% of the lowest estimate in the US. Portugal is not cheaper in some procedures that, for example, Thailand, but other factors make it a better choice and overtake the price difference.
Why should Why should medical tourists choose Portugal for Medical Tourism?
Belén de Vicente: Portugal can offer a very attractive combination of three main components for medical tourism:
A) Quality of healthcare infrastructures and staff. In terms of comparison with other European countries, Portugal has healthcare public indicators above the average and as good as Germany or the Netherlands.
As an example, The Global Competitiveness Report tells us that Portugal ranks 10th in Infant Mortality and 30 in terms of Health and Primary Education, ahead of countries like Spain, U.S.A., Thailand, India or Mexico.
B) Hospitality. Portugal is known by its capacity to host foreigners and make them feel well. In medical tourism, an area in which trust and caring are main values, to serve the clients with these qualities is a cornerstone for the business. In Portugal the number of people speaking foreign languages is very high and in the services industry you can expect everybody to speak at least three languages.
C) Touristic ecosystem. Our country has the right weather conditions and the adequate lifestyle for a perfect recovery. The variety of settings that we can find in huge cities and in the countryside allows us to offer touristic alternatives for a huge range of interests and medical conditions – from sun and beach, to golf, to river cruises, to city tours. The main two cities of Portugal, Lisbon and Porto have been systematically winning touristic destination awards like the recent election from the magazine “Condé Nast Traveller” of Portugal as the best destination to travel in 2013.
Additionally Portugal is one of the safest countries in the world and this is an extremely important point to bear in mind when you travel abroad.
Are you offering package tours for the medical tourists to Portugal? Have they been cost effective?
Belén de Vicente: We offer package tours adequate to the medical condition of our clients and their companions. Some clients prefer to enjoy the touristic packages before the surgery with their accompanying person, others prefer a recovery package after surgery. This capacity to customize is very important as well as the capacity to understand the clients’ interests and concerns. We are able to offer packages for a different range of prices and tastes – from the basic flight and hotel alternative to the highly luxury touristic resort which can include an exclusive cooking and wine tasting activity or an individual visit to a museum guided by an artist. This flexibility is also very important and you can have all this wide range of alternatives at a very cost effective price since Portugal is one of the countries with the higher quality-cost ratios.
Can patients expect any language barrier, when they visit Portugal for their treatment. For example, how you will deal with a patient who speaks only their countries local language?
Belén de Vicente: If our clients’ language of origin is Portuguese, Spanish, English or French, the service can be provided in those languages without the need of interpreters. Most physicians and nurses we work with speak these languages. As for other languages, Medical port offers professional interpreters per request. In those cases the interpreters are trained by us in order to assure they understand the characteristics of a medical tourism setting and client. We believe that establishing a good and trustful relationship with our clients is a key success factor in this business.