Even in crisis, Russians are not canceling treatment in Germany

For a period of nine months in 2015 year Germany missed around 600,000 overnight stays of Russian tourists. Russian citizens have spent 1 million and 450 thousand nights in accommodation facilities. The total number of visitors from Russia fell by 30% in the first 9 months of the previous year.

In spite of that factors medical tourism tourist flow has remained stable. According to the total number of visas issued for Russians, 10% of visas are for medical tourism so it is 30,000 visas. A similar percentage was recorded in 2014 year, has informed the director of the German National Tourist Board in Russia Alla Belikova. It is considered that more Russians that recorded according to the number of visas enter the country for health tourism as many of them enter Germany by a Schengen visa.

It might be awkward to call these people “tourists”, says Mrs. Belikova as they do not visit museums, do not have city tours and excursions. They arrive only for treatment. Therefore the German Embassy recommends these people to apply for a medical visa. It is not difficult to issue but if you are applying for a tourist visa and you have to prolong your stay in Germany, you might have problems as the consulate considers it as a fraud.

In order to issue a medical visa it is necessary to have an invitation letter from the clinic where you go for treatment, instead of individual calls or hotel reservations. The patient receives a visa after paying a certain amount in advance and a medical visa is almost never refused if all valid documents have been provided.

In Russia there are about twenty agencies, partners of the German tourist community that support them and help to promote health tourism. For example the representatives of the Patient Management inform future patients about clinics, medical staff, food. Managers of these companies prefer to see all by themselves and to be convinced in the quality of service. Only after that they consult patients about what is better for them and they are able to answer every question.

Sometimes a client wants to be consulted by a specific doctor, so the agency takes this duty. For every patient a travel agent is not only an escort, translator, but also is a person who performs some duties such as buying drugs and solving other current issues. It might be said that this person is acting as a personal assistant.

Most wanted are clinics specializing in the treatment in children and adults’ cancer, cardiovascular, urological and orthopedic clinics and diagnostic and cosmetic surgery. As a rule, patients want to hear a second opinion of a reputable doctor and they expect them to beautify the diagnosisas German medicine is well- known for non-invasive treatments.

If the situation is serious and the patient needs surgery, it is possible to extend a visa or to issue a new visa with certain dates when the patient should return to the clinic. According to the statistics about 70% of medical tourists are Moscow citizens.

While choosing a place of treatment patients are primarily driven by the presence of modern equipment of high quality such as proton therapy and surgical robots at the clinic Da Vinci. It is important that this place is easily accessible.A flight to Berlin is very popular as from that place many other lines are available. The German capital is a network of clinics Vivantes Academic Hospitals focused on Russian patients. The clinic is equipped with high quality equipment, provide comfortable accommodation, as well as the delivery of food from the restaurant, and if necessary a patient can stay with his relatives in the clinic. In 2015 year this clinic was visited by 1,500 Russians.

One of the key criteria in selecting a clinic is a quick response to the request. The sooner it is able to organize the reception of the patient is more probable that the patient chooses exactly that clinic, said Alla Belikova. Depending on the type of services and duration of stay in the clinic, patients spend 5-30 thousand euros. It is believed that German clinics earn annually around 128 million euros thanks to Russian market .

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