Slovakia offers good quality and low price medical and dental treatment, but few people know that apart from a handful of small medical tourism agencies promoting the country in a low-key way.
An increasing number of local doctors, dentists and hospitals see the potential for medical tourism. But most Slovak hospitals and clinics do little to promote themselves to foreigners. Some doctors suggest that most so-called medical tourism is only foreigners who live in the country, business or holiday travellers, or Slovaks living in more expensive European countries who to use the services of private medical and aesthetic centres.
Renáta Mihályová of Medissimo, a hospital in Bratislava says, “The motivation of a person towards medical tourism is often financial. Favourable prices in Slovakia make it an affordable destination for a wide range of people. Our doctors have a good reputation in the world. Many of them have trained or worked abroad.” Medissimo provides medical care to visiting tourists as well as expats from the diplomatic and business communities living in Slovakia. It gets patients – many of Slovak origin – from the USA, India, Spain, Germany and Sweden. A recent trend is patients for cosmetic surgery from neighbouring countries.”
Ústav Lekárskej Kozmetiky (ÚLK) is a specialist centre for health, beauty and anti-aging procedures and is seeing an increase in the number of patients from Austria, plus Slovaks who live on a long-term basis abroad, especially in England, France and Italy. Hungarians are not frequent patients as there are many similar centres in the northern part of Hungary as well as in Budapest. People from the United Kingdom, France and Italy come for cosmetic surgery. As well as personal recommendation, most find it after searching online and comparing what is offered and the price with other countries and their home country. Slovakia is not the cheapest location, but argues that in lower price countries the quality is also lower.
Dental treatment in Slovakia costs around a third or a quarter of the prices in Western Europe. Most dentists use high quality materials and equipment so their cost in Slovakia is the same as those abroad but dentists and nurses are paid a lot less in Slovakia than in Western Europe. But Slovakia is generally not thought of as a destination for dental tourism.
What may be holding the country back is that while it can compete on price and quality, unlike other competing European countries it does not have the quality or availability of hotels restaurants, travel, languages and marketing. They may be able to cope with tourism, but are not geared up for medical tourism. Also there is little government support or concerted marketing, while few locations have websites with information in the major European languages.