Author: Joe Harkins
Portugal is sleeping giant that is opening an eye toward medical tourism. The country’s economy is finally growing again and Lisbon officials have their sights on cultivating medical travel opportunities to generate increased revenue and augment healthcare infrastructure in one of the most affordable cities in Europe.
“You will find our waterfront city buzzing with youthful energy against a stunning backdrop of ancient vistas, bustling hotels and charming restaurants that line our cobblestone streets,” said Victor Costa, general manager of the Lisbon Tourism Board, an arm of the Visitors and Convention Bureau charged to collaborate with the Medical Tourism Association® to raise the profile of medical travel to Lisbon. “Be assured that during your stay you will also find a core group of hospitals and dedicated doctors and healthcare professionals whom we rely on and you can depend on.”
At every turn, visitors to Lisbon are greeting by huge plazas, parks and monuments that mark the city’s rich and diverse history. But, the people who reside in what’s known as the sunniest city in Europe are not resting on their laurels. Investors are snapping up once rundown vacant properties – remnants of Europe’s economic recession — and renovating them for resale.
Lisbon City Council estimates about 12,000 properties are marketable for purchase, which translates into prices at an estimated 6,000 euros per square meter for prime locations, compared with 9,000 euros in Madrid and 29,000 euros in London, according to investment and development company Quantico, SA.
Hospital administrators are seizing the moment themselves, but with a watchful eye toward the future. Leopoldo Matos, clinical director of Hospital Lusíadas Lisbon, said monthly clinical meetings are held to exchange new medical advances and promote new avenues to further educate doctors and retain highly skilled health professionals.
“We work daily with the best health professionals to expand access to superior healthcare to all people and these meetings are a reflection,” said Matos, who noted ophthalmology, rheumatology, psychiatry, unit pain and endocrinology as areas of special interest.
Lusiad Health Group, the first private healthcare provider to earn Joint Commission International accreditation in Portugal, initiated medical tourism services years ago in Algarve, where 10 percent of admissions are made up of international patients. Hospital Lusíadas Lisbon joined the health group’s network of six facilities in 2008. Since then, Hospital Lusíadas Lisbon has grown to serve 350,000 admissions annually, many of whom are medical tourism patients — both inpatient and outpatient.
While medical tourism patients have been breaking down barriers to physical distance, Hospital Lusiadas Lisbon has been constructing new openings as well. Before the year ended, Health Minister Paulo Macedo announced the expansion of Hospital Lusíadas Lisbon, which has grown to include 70 consultation offices and an area specifically dedicated to physical medicine and rehabilitation – and the creation of 93 new jobs.
“We want to respond to the sustained growth and demand that the Hospital Lusíadas Lisbon has been experiencing in recent years,” said Matos. “This new space has been designed and created to ensure excellent service that combines top technologies and an experienced and reputable medical staff. The appointments and tests on an outpatient basis for most specialties are growing in this building. We intend, with this expansion, also to improve upon customer convenience and comfort.”
The new building, more than 13, 000-square meters will provide healthcare services to patients who do not require hospitalization or emergency care. Hospital Lusíadas Lisbon performs 9,000 surgeries annually. In addition to the new consultation offices, the complex now houses 127 beds, seven operating rooms, three maternity areas and 1,414 employees.
Hospital Lusíadas Lisbon is located off one of the main arteries in the city and not far from the InterContinental Lisbon – Estoril, which in a move symbolic of Lisbon’s economic good fortune, was purchased this month by InterContinental Hotels Group, one of the world’s leading luxury hotel companies. The signing comes just a few months after the opening of InterContinental Lisbon and, once open, this hotel will join InterContinental Porto – Palacios Das Cardosas as the third IHG property in Portugal.
Located in one of the most elegant tourist destinations in the world, InterContinental Lisbon – Estoril stands proudly to the west of Lisbon’s city centre in the affluent town of Estoril. The hotel overlooks the Atlantic Ocean, boasting magnificent sea views and is just a two minute walk to the train station that connects the coastal towns, Lisbon city centre and Lisbon Airport.