Dr. Mona Blog: Study tour of Poland medical tourism - KMSP-TV

Dr. Mona Blog: Study tour of Poland medical tourism

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By Dr. Mona Khanna, FOX 32 News medical contributor

What a thrill to be invited as one of only two American journalists and nine other international journalists on a medical journalism study tour of some of Poland's finest international medical tourism destinations.

Medical tourism is something I and many other Americans have become interested in, as the cost of healthcare in the U.S. tends to climb higher and higher than other nations of comparable quality. In addition, private companies and insurance companies are now looking at overseas medical services as a more affordable way to provide high quality care with similar medical outcomes as America.

For the past two years, I have been a featured speaker at the Medical Tourism Congress and this year I was invited to speak at the fall International Medical Tourism Conference in Shanghai. So when Poland called, I was intrigued, as I didn't know much about its services.

The idea of the tour was the selection of Poland medical tourism by the Republic of Poland as one of the 15 most important sectors of the economy. The tour was about 75% sponsored by funds from the European Union.

The goal of the experience was to educate international journalists about Poland's multi-faceted high quality low-cost health services, specifically focusing our tour on heart care, dentistry, sports medicine/bone/joints, health and wellness, dermatology/skin care, healthcare plans and multi-specialty groups. For example, one of the study findings from the EU Euro Health Consumer Index 2012 Report was Poland's low death rate after a heart attack (4% in the ensuing 30-days). And one of the health centers we visited was the Polsko-Amerykanskie Kliniki Serca, or American Heart of Poland Group, a 22-clinic network of interventional cardiology, angiography and heart surgery departments in Poland. The Group, privately owned by three physicians, including an American man of Polish descent, is re-inventing specialty care in Poland, by providing carved-out heart services with planned expansion into stroke services. It is also making a name for itself on the international stage, by conducting experiments in stents that are reabsorbed by the body. The premise is that the stents are only needed for a short period of time to prop a heart vessel open to prevent it from narrowing and closing, and then they dissolve.

One of three American Heart of Poland founders Andrzej Bochenek, MD, PhD, told me that one of the surgeries performed was repair of an ascending aortic aneurysm, a bulging and weakness of the largest artery in the body. That surgery cost the patient's insurance company 15,000 Euros while it would have cost 30,000 Euros in Germany, his home country. Not to mention that the surgery was done immediately in Poland, while he would have had to wait several months in Germany.

One of the highlights of this study tour is networking with the other journalists: my US counterpart Scott Frankum, Moscow writers Maria Prokopchenko, Alexandra Tyrlova, Irina Popkowa and Ekaterina Fadeeva, Germany-based Bettina Horster, Oslo resident Morten Aasbo, and Swedes Anders Karlsson, Hanna Brodda and Helio Ruiz (originally from Colombia). We had the opportunity to meet each other at our first dinner together, at Restauracja Pod Aniołami (translated as Under the Angels Restaurant) adjacent to the famed Rynek Glowny, the larest medieval town square in Europe. We got to know each other over salad and Polish meats, traditional fermented Polish soup called Zurek, cabbage leaves stuffed with buckwheat called Golabki, pork or chicken, potatoes, traditional Polish cheesecake with raisins in roseberry sauce and white wine, red wine and a variety of juices. Afterwards, we all walked to the nearby Ostoya Palace Hotel, a classic European boutique hotel, where we spent our first night.

For more information, go to PolandMedicalTourism.com.

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