As democracy continues to take shape in Georgia, business, healthcare, and government leaders are exploring ways in which to fit medical tourism into the republic's blueprint for creating jobs, providing improved medical services and education, and improving ties with Russia.
MedTourGeorgia, the republic's first medical tourism company, began to unearth some this potential during a daylong workshop, presented in partnership with the Medical Tourism Association (MTA), on Opportunities for Medical Tourism in Georgia, which provided a forum earlier this month at Tbilisi State Medical University for industry stakeholders to discuss business opportunities, common goals and challenges.
I am confident that this one-day workshop raised awareness about medical tourism in Georgia and it will become an excellent basis for further activities in this direction, said Dr. Paata Ratiani, founder and CEO of MedTourGeorgia and official MTA representative in Georgia, following site tours and meetings.
Transition to Freedom
After gaining independence following the breakup of the former Soviet Union some two decades ago and a disastrous five-day war in 2008 with Russia which was once Georgia's biggest trading partner Tbilisi has experienced a painful transition to freedom that has run parallel to improving healthcare access, replacing old hospitals with new facilities, and training an established core of medical professionals and support staff.
Amid these modest gains, Georgians are eager and optimistic to bolster economic trends that have already produced a 6 percent growth in GDP and a 5 percent reduction in inflation.
Meanwhile, the heath sector eyes medical tourism as a means to offer Georgians more options for affordable, comfortable and convenient conditions for procedures and treatments both at home and abroad.
Against this backdrop, workshop participants were given an overview of medical tourism and how Georgia can play a more active role in the industry. Presentations included:
- Government Involvement in Medical Tourism
- Marketing European Clinics and Hospitals
- Clinical Quality Improvement and International Patient Services
- Role of the Travel/Tourism Industry in Medical Tourism
- Inbound vs. Outbound Medical Tourism in Georgia.
Presenters at the workshops included Jeff Coxon, education and engagement manager, MTA Europe; Amelia Fernandez, education & engagement coordinator, MTA Global; Dr. Prem Jagyasi, U.S. executive program director, MTA Global; Mary Miller, managing partner, MPROVE GLOBAL, Inc; and Dr. Ratiani.
I would like to congratulate the organizers for making it possible for this workshop to be held and for managing to assemble this impressive mix of stakeholders, policymakers, researchers and experts in this field, said Professor Zurab Vadachkoria, rector, Tbilisi State Medical University. I would like to give a special thanks to Dr. Paata Ratiani for being the pioneer and No. 1 promoter of medical tourism not only in Georgia, but in the region.
As part of its commitment to education, Medical Tourism Association training seminars and workshops like the one in Georgia are provided for governments, healthcare clusters, hospitals, insurance providers, employers, hospitality, and other tourism groups. MTA believes the foundation for any successful international healthcare and patient program must include proper training and education.
We believe in a think-global, act-local approach to develop sustainable systems through our workshops and we look forward to bringing our message to countries around the world, said Renee-Marie Stephano, president of the Medical Tourism Association.
MTA has spent several years developing a comprehensive and diverse curriculum of medical tourism training courses, certification programs and continuing education to support industry initiatives.