Medical Tourism: Lisbon Becomes Automatic Choice for Robotic Surgery
Pushing boundaries comes with the territory for Kris Maes. With the help of tiny lights and video cameras — and a steady hand the surgeon at Hospital da Luz in Lisbon directs robotic arms that make small and precise incisions to perform traditional operations without cutting patients open.
Just before last year ended, Maes carried his knowledge from Imelda Hospital in Belgium across borders into Portugal, where he took on the challenge of training doctors at Hospital da Luz on the Da Vinci XI, a surgical robot that that takes advantage of minimally invasive techniques to reduce pain, blood loss and infection rates for patients as well as their recovery time spent in the hospital.
A urologist and coordinator of the Center for Robotics and Minimally Invasive Surgery at Hospital da Luz, Maes has performed more than 1,500 laparoscopic and robotic procedures including 500 robotic prostatectomies. Laparoscopy was one of the first types of minimally invasive surgery. Another type is robotic surgery, which provides a magnified, 3-D view of the surgical site that gives the surgeon great precision, flexibility and control.
For his part as an official trainer in Europe for Intuitive Surgical, the company that manufactures the Da Vinci, Dr. Maes and robotic surgery have opened doors at Hospital da Luz.
Not only do surgeons at the largest and most advanced private hospital in Portugal continue to develop more consistent and
increasingly complex procedures using minimally invasive surgeries, but their knowledge, experience and commitment has
become a reference for medical tourism patients from around the world.
Language of Medical Travel
At Hospital da Luz, healthcare speaks to patients both residents and international visitors to Portugal — who seek a range of multidisciplinary services. Home to the Cardiovascular Center, Hospital da Luz features a Echocardiography Laboratory, which is accredited by the European Association of Echolcardiography.
Thousands of international patients annually visit Hospital da Luz, where non Portuguese-speaking healthcare consumers feel welcome, secure and heard. To this end, the hospital has developed a comprehensive communication support program that assists medical tourism patients throughout the process from finding a doctor to discharge and follow up.
Luz Saude, S.A., which operates Hospital da Luz within its network of 18 healthcare facilities in Portugal, receives almost 20,000 international patients annually, which generates some 13 million in revenue for the private group. At least half of these medical tourism patients are from Brazil and Portuguese-speaking countries. Angolans represent more than two-thirds of the foreign clients from Portuguese-speaking nations.
In response to the cultural and language barriers and to enhance the medical tourism patient experience, Luz Saude, S.A. developed International Patient Services to assist foreigners. Some of these benefits include telephone services in English, medical document translation, support for securing lodging and travel accommodations, financial assistance and mediation
with international insurers as well as an emergency triage questionnaire in 13 languages.
As a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Robotic Surgery, Dr. Maes is understood in the language of urology. He has
been a guest speaker at several international meetings and recently co-directed Treatment Options in Prostate Cancer,
under the Leaping Forward International Clinical Congress at Hospital da Luz in Lisbon.