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Meeting the challenges of health tourism

HEALTH tourism has been recognised as a promising business in many countries around the world. The Slovak Spectator spoke to Zeno Veselík, director of KPMG in the Czech Republic, about the current position of Slovakia in this sector and its prospects for becoming a major health-tourism destination.

HEALTH tourism has been recognised as a promising business in many countries around the world. The Slovak Spectator spoke to Zeno Veselík, director of KPMG in the Czech Republic, about the current position of Slovakia in this sector and its prospects for becoming a major health-tourism destination.



The Slovak Spectator (TSS): What is the current position of Slovakia in health tourism, especially in comparison with neighbouring countries?


Zeno Veselík (ZV): Compared with Austria or the Czech Republic Slovakia has not reached a fully comparable level so far. But in comparison with its other neighbours and with other countries in eastern Europe it is better off in many aspects, and in this respect its potential is good. Also, wage costs may be a positive factor for Slovakia for a certain period of time, but only on the condition that Slovakia invests sufficiently in the necessary infrastructure and in the quality of the whole spectrum of personnel with which it provides the given services.



TSS: What are the chances of Slovakia becoming a major health-tourism destination?


ZV: Slovakia is certainly an exceptionally interesting country from the viewpoint of natural beauties, but it has not yet developed services for tourists and especially for those willing to pay for ‘health tourism’. The infrastructure is for now, either in its extent or in terms of the quality of services, insufficient and the reputation of Slovak health care does not unambiguously belong among the country’s strong points. Last but not least, it is important that the quality of client-oriented care by workers – in other words, the attitude of the personnel at such facilities towards clients and patients – attains a European level and becomes an automatic part of the services provided.



TSS: How do you perceive opportunities for investments in medical facilities which may provide health- tourism services?


ZV: Undoubtedly Slovakia is a well-known country in the field of physiotherapy or spa treatment, even though the related infrastructure does not reach European standards so far. Probably it would be necessary to think over the target clients/patients in this respect, either from the viewpoint of their origin or their economic potential and real preferences, i.e. those requirements which will be decisive in their choices.



TSS: What factors most affect the potential of the country and its utilisation?


ZV: These are demonstrable quality, good references and reputation, the generally perceived success of a facility, the recommendation of patients, but also internationally recognised certification of facilities and their ability to become contract partners for potential payers of health care, for example insurance companies or national institutions covering health care. Other factors are the price of the medical services provided, the scope and quality of supplementary services and programmes for patients and accompanying persons, as well as the ability to secure protection of personal data and privacy of patients. Among other factors I would add the behaviour and attitude of the personnel to patients and, last but not least, the ability to offer quality post-surgical or follow-up care.


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