Minimally invasive cardiac surgery in Ukraine in terms of quality of services is not inferior to the West: prices are four or even ten times lower than European ones, and the system of medical services is undergoing a global transformation. So Ukraine has every chance to become a prominent point on the map of the international medical tourism.
Annually around 50 000 foreign patients come to Ukraine to receive treatment. 25% of guests, according to the Ukrainian Medical Tourism Association, choose our country because of the affordable quality sanatory services, 18% go to Ukraine to see dentists and ophthalmologists, 57% are patients of reproductive specialists, cardiac surgeons, plastic surgeons and specialists in the field of cellular technologies.
Moreover, when it comes to the most essential part - proper treatment - Ukrainian doctors are not just on equal terms with foreign colleagues – they are often at least one step ahead. And now the country has all the prerequisites to rapidly make the national medicine patient friendly; it will be characterized not only by the high quality, tolerance and safety, but also by the exceptional living conditions and psychological comfort. Today curing itself is not enough - today you are expected to cure quickly and in conditions that are comfortable for a person. This is how all the world's leading clinics work, and many clinics in Ukraine operate in the same way.
One of the most popular areas of medical tourism in Ukraine is cardiac surgery. This is the best proof of the competence of our medicine: development of such a complex direction at the proper level requires expertise, an innovative approach, professionalism, and a good medical school.
By the way, Ukrainian cardiac surgeons not only take up cases, which their foreign colleagues refuse to operate, but also actively develop new progressive methods of treatment. A striking example is the transition, proposed by the doctors of the Center for Cardiac Surgery of the Private Medical Network "Dobrobut" (Kyiv), to a mini-invasive procedure for performing one of the most demanded heart operations, multivessel coronary artery bypass grafting. This operation is the only effective way of treating ischemic heart disease, which allows to completely restore the blood flow in the heart muscle even after a heart attack. Until the summer of 2017, multivessel shunting was globally performed through a 25-centimeter incision of the sternum - until cardiac surgeons from Dobrobut proved that it can be done through a 5-10 centimeter incision between the ribs. As a result, a person does not need to sacrifice two or three months of his/ her normal life, and can return to the reasonable physical activity three days after the surgery; a patient is discharged from the hospital after four days, and a month later a patient can go back to the normal lifestyle.
This is a breakthrough in the cardiac surgery, and the colleagues from Europe expressed interest in the revolutionary achievements of Dobrobut cardiac surgeons. Ukrainian doctors started getting ready for the presentation of the methodology they mastered at the European Congress of Cardiac Surgeons in 2018.
Alexander Bablyak, Head of the Center for Cardiac Surgery " Dobrobut”, says, "In less than six months, we conducted dozens of successful mini-invasive multivessel coronary shunts involving patients of different ages and with various concomitant diseases and we can confidently say that the future belongs to mini-invasive cardiac surgery."
Undoubtedly, the strong point of the Ukrainian medicine is the quality-to-price ratio.
Vitaly Tyman from Lviv, who recently underwent heart surgery and examined treatment options in several clinics in Europe, says, "To receive the mitral valve plasty at a Polish clinic, you need more than 16,000 euros; at an Italian one - 30,000-40,000 euros. And it is not minimally invasive, but through the incision of the sternum.”
In Ukraine, an average cost of a cardiac surgery and hospital stay is 4,000-5,000 euros. And there is no difference whether it`s a mini-invasive or standard surgical interference (there are still some cases when it is impossible to operate through mini-access).
The ratio of European and Ukrainian prices in other areas of medicine is more or less similar. Once again, it demonstrates the attractiveness and huge prospects of domestic medicine in the world market of medical services
There is only one task to be completed: creation of an image of a country with clinics, where the comfort of a patient, including the psychological comfort, is given as much attention as the actual treatment process.
Oleg Kalashnikov, co-founder of the private network of medical institutions "Dobrobut", comments, “Ukrainian medicine made a huge step forward, and now we are at the stage, where constructive competition encourages us to improve ourselves every day. And it's not just about acquiring the most up-to-date equipment, attracting world-class specialists and following all international treatment protocols. A huge effort is made to create comfortable conditions for the patient's stay in the clinic: these are amenities, benevolent and caring staff, and thousands of other things that sometimes seem secondary, but in complex are of great importance for provision of quick and effective treatment.”
And he adds that, for instance, in Dobrobut, a lot of attention is paid to an issue, which in general has little to do with the fighting with the disease, but is important for patients - the knowledge of the foreign languages of the staff.
"I am pleased to say that most of our doctors are fluent in English, many in German, some speak French and Spanish. In fact, for an experienced doctor, it is not difficult to treat a person, even if they do not speak the same language. But the language barrier is bad for the patient's psychological mood, and therefore we do our best to ensure that any patient - Ukrainian or foreign - feels comfortable in our hospital,” Oleg Kalashnikov says.
Ukrainian medicine is changing dramatically and rapidly, gaining the upper hand worldwide in many spheres. Will we become a mecca of medical tourism, such as Israel or Germany? Maybe. We have everything we need for this: qualified doctors, advanced technologies, the affordable pricing policy and the desire to develop.
Where do they come from?
At the moment, most foreign patients are citizens of Moldova, Russia and Belarus. Ten countries whose residents want to be treated in Ukraine, include Germany, Italy, France and the United Kingdom. Recently, Ukraine clinics received many patients from the United Arab Emirates, Central Asia, China.