Author: Medical Tourism Magazine
Wherever you’re from, you’re bound to love it here! Romania is a country like no other, always surprising. It’s a country of contrasts, with vast culture and amazing history. The place where new meets old, history meets modern, yet the people are the same for thousands of years – sincere and welcoming. Quality ‘medical holidays’ is a concept that the Romanian Medical Tourism market has been developing for quite some time. Read on to understand why Romania is showing so much potential in the Medical Tourism industry.
Romania is a country with a reputation for its scenery and landscapes, its Medieval fortified villages and castles, its painted monasteries and the Danube Delta – the third largest biodiversity in the world – to list just a few of its attractions on the UNESCO World Heritage sites.
The country has been under a communist regime for half a century, since World War II, until 1989 – so private development only started around 20 years ago. As expected, the country has seen a slow start, and most of the businesses only really developed in the late 90s and the beginning of the new millennia. The capital city, Bucharest, regarded as “little Paris” in the 1920s, is still expanding rapidly and while most people will say it gets too crowded, the traffic is too loud and the people are always in a rush; it’s only fair to say it resembles any large metropolis in Europe (around 3 million people call Bucharest home).
However, the country’s real treasures lie further up north, in Transylvania, one of the three historical provinces in Romania. In between myth (Bram Stoker’s Count Dracula) and reality (the Romanian Medieval ruler Vlad Tepes) lies southern Transylvania and the area around Brasov, the biggest city in southern Transylvania. Being an area dominated by mountains and forests, the fresh clean air, the quietness of the surroundings and the relaxing view of tall peaks surrounding Brasov make this the perfect spot for rest and relaxation – just what the medical tourist needs after any sort of intervention.
Quick Country Facts
- Member of the EU since 2007 – EU citizens do not require a Visa.
- US citizens do not require a Visa if they’re staying for less than 90 days.
- Currency used is called Lei (RON)
- You’ll get about 410 Lei for 100 Euro and 330 Lei for 100 US dollars
- Full fancy dinner for two including drinks and tips will set you back around 200 Lei (50 Euro/70 US dollars).
- Warm summers / cold – snowy winters
- Romania has many airports, but the most used for medical tourists are Bucharest Otopeni (OTP) and Bucharest Baneasa (BBU) due to their close proximity to Brasov and Bucharest.
Treatment in Romania
Romanian doctors are renowned worldwide for their professionalism. The schools of medicine in Bucharest, Cluj-Napoca, Timisoara, Targu Mures and Iasi carry-on the prestige and tradition of teaching Romanian and foreign students for over 150 years of successful graduates, proof of the level of education and thoroughness of medical professionals in Romania. While the public health sector in Romania is lacking in some areas, the private sector is already on the level expected in an EU-member state. Since the end of the ‘90s private hospitals have been opening up around the country, clinics have been growing and modernizing, while the professionalism of the medical act has been certified according to the EU’s standards of practice and ISO quality standards in most private clinics.
Romania is an upcoming destination for medical tourism. Even though the country has relatively few years of experience in running medical services for tourists, the professionalism of the doctors, the high-quality treatments and the last-generation equipped private clinics place Romanian Medical Tourism in the top destinations of Eastern Europe. The Medical Tourism market in Romania has rapidly grown over the last two years. It is now estimated that around 100,000 foreign patients travel into Romania every year to receive medical treatment. Granted, some of the patients in the estimate are Romanian expats returning on holiday – the increase in foreign patients has been a large factor in the developing of concepts such as “medical holidays”. While most of the patients come over to Romania for dentistry or plastic surgery, the spa sector is close behind with world renowned thermal springs and salty baths.
Romanian dentists, and generally speaking all doctors, adhere to very high standards of work and this is due to the prestige of the Romanian School of Medicine, which has given valuable graduates over the years. That is why dental and eye care clinics in Romania can easily rival many of the western standard clinics.
While Bucharest may boast the largest number of clinics offering services to foreign patients, some other places in the country will focus on the overall medical tourist experience, or the “medical holiday”. Facilitators in places like Brasov, Cluj-Napoca or Timisoara can easily help the tourist book an entire experience. On average, a treatment can begin within two weeks of booking, while treatment visits can take place every day, especially when speaking of dentistry.
Turning a Visit to the Doctor’s Into a Holiday
Medical treatment is key to any travelling patient, and the tourism part cannot be ignored especially in a destination famous for tourist landmarks. While Romania won’t boast the same sort of attractions that France or Italy would, the history along with the natural environment in Romania will make this destination a great pick for any medical tourist. The novelty of a concept such as a “medical holiday” is in the fact that apart from booking a hotel and an appointment with a clinic, the patient can have an entire “all inclusive” package of trips and sightseeing which is tailor made to suit their treatment. While an esthetic surgery patient may need a lot of rest and relaxation, a dental patient may sometimes embrace a more active holiday – after the treatment sessions one can book anything from private sightseeing tours to spa or beauty treatments in one of the many salons and parlors.
Moreover, once the right facilitator is found, which is usually a dedicated Medical Tourism agency, patients will be able to keep up to date with the latest news on treatment types (be it dentistry, laser eye surgery, cosmetic or orthopedic surgery), and get acquainted with the procedures and prices from a variety of certified private clinics. The main benefit of using a facilitator is the opportunity for the patient to browse through various clincs’ offers before choosing the one that perfectly suits their needs. A Medical Tourism facilitator will always know that distance (even if it is a short one) is an issue for any traveling patient. Therefore the concept of extended guarantee arose successfully, (apart from regular insurance that brokers now sell to medical tourists) some facilitators offering it as a bonus – covering flights and accommodation if there is a need in returning for remedial work. So this comes up to strengthen the fact that the Romanian Medical Tourism market offers professional services, embracing and promoting quality and guaranteed work.
Most Sought After Treatments in Romania
There are plenty of private dental clinics to choose from. While some of them will be cozy and warm, others will resemble a hospital rather than an art gallery. The size of private dentistry practices ranges from a one doctor’s office to dentistry clinics with more than 20 doctors. Patients can expect to find that larger clinics will also carry their own technician’s laboratory. Generally speaking, all private dental practices are very well equipped as funding for upgrading dentistry clinics is easily available. Cosmetic dentistry in Romania is often appealing to traveling patients due to the low price. Romania achieves 30% to 40% of Western European prices without sacrificing quality of materials due to low taxation of dentistry, lower salaries in the field and also the fact that a lot of clinics were funded through non-refundable grants.
Plastic surgery clinics are mainly found in larger cities around Romania. Along with the boom in business came the people’s desire to enhance or remodel their look. Most of the clinics in Romania are thoroughly discussing surgery with the potential clients in order to clarify the reasons for such a surgery. It is not uncommon in Romania for a clinic to refuse to handle a patient because the purpose for the client’s surgery cannot be fulfilled. Doctors will say: “There’s no need to undergo surgery” or “The surgery will not solve your issue” to the patient, if the outcome of the surgery might bring an unnatural ‘look’. Each particular human is physically different and cosmetic surgeries are meant to improve one’s aspect, not to “force, by any means, a “plastic” improvement. Most of the private clinics which offer plastic surgery are inpatient facilities. Modern clinics and well trained staff are a common thing in plastic surgery clinics across Romania.
Laser Eye Surgery (Ophthalmology)
Eye care is regarded as very important to the Romanians. It’s widespread knowledge that one can purchase affordable glasses in Eastern Europe, however few people realize just how far Romania has come in terms of more delicate procedures such as eye surgery. Since surgery is the only way to solve cataracts, private eye surgery clinics have developed in some of the major cities in Romania. With top quality equipment and excellently trained doctors and nurses, what is a crucial surgery becomes a 20 minute microscopic intervention where the patient goes home on the same day. Also, prices for these sorts of interventions are regularly 30% to 35% of Western European prices.
Hip and knee surgery has been done in Romanian hospitals for a considerably long time. Orthopedic surgeons are now moving into the private area due to an increase in the number of private clinics opening up throughout the country. Most of the clinics have been thought out as private hospitals, with luxury wards, excellent care and attention to each patient. As these surgeries are more complex, they require a lot more aftercare, so patients will be spending a couple of nights in the clinic, admitted and closely monitored. Prices for orthopedic surgery in Romania are generally 40% to 60% cheaper than Western Europe.
Spa and Wellness Treatments
Spa and wellness closely follow dentistry and plastic surgery as the main motivator for patients traveling to Romania. The spa wellness centers are mostly related to natural springs either thermal or salted. Spa centers around the country resemble private resorts where patients receive treatment while living on site. Some of the best known places, which are associated with spa services are Calimanesti, Caciulata, Olanesti, Eforie Nord, Eforie Sud, Govora, Felix, Herculane, Slanic Moldova, Tusnad. Many tourists choose these places for diseases related to: the locomotor system, rheumas, neurologic, peripheric and orthopedic – traumatic, cardiovascular system, gynecological diseases, respiratory system, endocrine system, diseases of the skin, digestive system and annexed glands, nutrition disorders, neurosis.
To sum up, private clinics in Romania are easily comparable to any Western European clinic in terms of the quality of services, the attention to patients and of course the level of the medical act. Price is another important factor for patients who decide to have treatment in Romania: procedures are usually 70% lower than those practiced in Western Europe and foreign patients will regularly save more than 50% when adding on accommodation, airplane ticket and sightseeing trips. Another popularity factor facilitating Romania’s access into the top destinations for Medical Tourism is the lack of waiting lists. Welcome to Romania!
About the Author
Andrei is the managing partner of Qdays, the first Romanian travel agency specialising in medical tourism, established in Brasov, Romania. Being a proven entrepreneur, he easily fits into any environment, having a hands-on approach to solving any issue. Andrei is the person responsible for ensuring Qdays’ partner clinics (dental, eye care, orthopaedic and plastic surgery) understand the patients’ needs and that communication is made in a timely manner, thus making sure Qdays offers the best available option in all its services. He may be reached at [email protected] or www.qdays.com.