More and more foreigners are going to Russia for treatment, a trend announced by the Ministry of Health. The head of the department, Mikhail Murashko, said that inbound medical tourism has begun to develop in the country. According to him, recently people have been coming to the Russian Federation, including for cancer treatment, as well as eye and heart diseases. Beauty industry services are also in demand. According to the Ministry of Health, in 2023, Russian institutions provided medical care to 12 million foreigners for a total amount of over $700 million. The Medical Tourism Association then calculated that the most popular services among foreign clients were dentistry, gynecology, urology and plastic surgery.
Since then, as the heads of clinics and sanatoriums told Kommersant FM, the structure of demand has changed noticeably.
Chief physician and founder of Inwhite Medical dentistry Albina Dontsova: “Our clinic specializes in working with autistic people. A lot of people flew to us from France and brought children. Today, of course, there are much fewer foreigners, but clients come from Georgia and Armenia. There are much fewer from the Baltics. We receive pictures by mail and prepare for the consultation. The only thing is that we try to do much more in one session; we increase the time. We have a group of doctors and administrators who speak English well. We use this command for such patients. In principle, in Russia there are already a considerable number of clinics of the highest level, which have no equal in the world. Plus, of course, it’s cheaper to get treatment here.”
Commercial director of the Plaza sanatorium chain Dmitry Semakin: “In our five-star sanatorium in Kislovodsk, the share of foreign guests does not change much, it is about 3-4%, and in a four-star resort it is about 2%. These are guests from Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. These countries have very hot summers, and the weather in Caucasian Mineral Waters is very comfortable. At the same time, the ruble continues to depreciate, and when booking by phone, I hear that many immediately recalculate the price in dollars and only then make a decision. It is not advisable to take any special actions to attract tourists from abroad, because we can hardly digest the demand that exists in our market.”
Chief physician of the Art Plastic clinic Tigran Aleksanyan: “Perhaps there are half as many people. They fly from America, Canada, and Great Britain mainly. Among the clients were Arabs, Iranians, and Hindus. In Stockholm, for example, they do breasts very well, but they don’t know how to do noses. Price matters too. For me it costs 450-500 thousand rubles, and for them – $50 thousand. Many people ask to do several operations at a time, but I don’t like this and in my clinic I don’t allow complexes for nine to ten hours , because it is fraught. 20% of men undergo surgery; they are dragged here by their mistresses, Russian girls. Mixed martial arts fighters often come to us when they finish their careers, I correct their breathing and give them a normal nose.”
According to the Russian Union of Travel Industry, the share of foreign patients who came to the country specifically for treatment did not exceed 5% in 2022. Now there are difficulties even in attracting clients from friendly countries, says medical director of the Association of Health Tourism and Corporate Health, Mikhail Danilov: “Sanatorium medical services are almost unknown in the world, with the exception of the countries of the former socialist camp. Similar spa centers exist in large numbers mainly only in Eastern Europe: Karlovy Vary, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary, thermal centers are especially famous. There is something similar in Italy, but there is more thermotherapy, in Germany, but there are more clinics there, Baden-Baden is already much more expensive than Karlovy Vary.
As a result, residents of many countries have little idea why they should go to Russia, and they know little about this product. There is potential, but in order to develop it, it is necessary to organize a representative office for medical tourism in these countries and conduct educational work.
Meanwhile, you can work with a large number of friendly states, for example, China. There may be some difficulties with Arab countries, because medical facilities will have to be divided into men’s and women’s, and so on, but this can also be overcome.
In Russian sanatoriums, the vast majority of foreign patients are those who were born in the Soviet Union. The entire flow of guests ordering sanatorium-resort services did not exceed 1-2 thousand people, if we talk about non-CIS countries – Israel and Germany. They are more actively coming to us from Kazakhstan, especially to the sanatoriums that are close to it.”
But Russians now most often go to Israel and Austria for treatment; these two countries account for almost 60% of the demand. In 2023, Germany was the most popular destination for medical tourism, but due to difficulties with visas and logistics, it lost its leadership in the ranking. Analysts at A2 Research came to these conclusions. According to their data, in general, Russians’ interest in treatment abroad fell by 20%.
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