Friday, August 23, 2019

Medical & Wellness Tourism

Finland, the rising star of Europe
August 2018 3324

Apart from boasting the cleanest air you can breathe in the world, Finland promises comprehensive and high-quality healthcare from primary health services to specialised medical care – from newborns to the elderly.

Finland has a longer life expectancy than the EU average and is ranked as one of the leading countries in terms of quality of life. In 2018, Finland topped the World Happiness Report based on factors such as freedom, honesty, welfare, good health, and generosity.

The results achieved by Finnish healthcare are world class in e.g. effectiveness of specialised medical care and decreasing cancer mortality. Finnish research groups have contributed to many breakthroughs in diagnostics, cancer treatment and prevention, cardiovascular diseases and neurological conditions. The quick adaptation of research results and use of latest technology ensure positive results in the treatment of many serious diseases. The Finnish system is based on prevention, early detection and arranging adequate health services for everyone.

TTN spoke to Päivi Antila, project manager, Health Tourism Finland, for more details on the emerging medical tourism hotspot. “Finnish private hospitals and clinics are very competitive in cancer treatment, a variety of demanding surgeries such as spinal surgeries, as well as orthopaedics and sports medicine.”

UAE travellers spent about 9,900 overnights in Finland in 2017, which is 31 per cent more than in 2016. The number has increased every year.

“We are already receiving medical tourists from the Middle East/GCC but the numbers are still rather low. Unfortunately, we don’t have any statistics on the number of medical tourists coming from the Middle East. So far, most of the medical tourists from this area are individual travellers organising their own treatment and trip to Finland but we would be happy to collaborate with more facilitators. We will be happy to see more medical tourist coming to Finland in the future from this region.

“Finland has a long tradition of receiving patients, especially from Russia, but we see the potential to receive a much bigger number of patients in the coming years. The Ministry of Employment and Economy in Finland funded a growth programme called FinlandCare in 2012 to 2017, and increasing medical tourism was one of the goals. Now the government has recently granted financing for continuing the work under Visit Finland (which is part of Business Finland, formerly Finpro).

“Health tourism is recognised as a potential theme bringing growth to the Finnish travel sector. We are especially focusing on year-round, sustainable tourism and digitalisation in the Visit Finland strategy and health tourism goes well together with all these priorities.”

Finland is especially strong in cancer treatment, demanding surgeries and orthopaedics/ sports medicine. In cancer treatment, the country has excellent results, better than neighbouring countries in some cancer types. For instance, according to Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) statistics, Finland sits on the top of the list of the highest survival rate for leukaemia patients (2010 to 2014) at 95.2 per cent, followed by UK, Germany and Switzerland. At the same time, the cost of treatment is often lower than said neighbouring countries.

Some clinics that receive international patients in Finland include Helsinki University Hospital/Hyksin Oy; Kuopio University Hospital/FinnHealth; Helsinki Hospital (for spinal surgeries); Docrates Cancer Center; and Hospital NEO (for orthopaedics and sports medicine), made famous by their surgeon Sakari Orava, who treats soccer stars.

Several medical tourism facilitators based in Finland provide full service packages to their customers. These include Xclusive Finland; EMA Finland (also provides private patient transportations); and Pathsurgery. Otherwise, the clinics can recommend accommodation options in the vicinity of their premises - these partner hotels can be found in Finland’s newly launched medical tourism brochure.

However, no medical tourism offering can be complete without the tourism aspect, especially for families and friends accompanying the patients. “I suggest outdoor activities in the Finnish nature with cool summers and snowy winters. Northern light spotting, enjoying the Midnight Sun, husky and snowmobile safaris and various other extreme adventures and outdoor activities can be enjoyed. Also, in Helsinki, there are many things to do, such as visiting the surrounding islands in the summer, trying out the Finnish city saunas, eating at some of Finland’s best restaurants, and visiting the old town of Porvoo,” concludes Antila.

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