- Medical tourism: how does it work?
- Why do patients choose Germany for medical tourism?
- What diseases do medical tourists treat in Germany?
- 3 best hospitals for medical tourism in Germany
- Prices in German clinics for foreign patients
- How to get for treatment in Germany?
- Reviews about health tourism in Germany
The material shows medical tourism trends and describes the leading expert-opinion-based specialties in the country. This information relies on the Bookimed statistics, patient reviews, analysis of the health tourism characteristics in 28 countries, data compiled from multiple variable sources: IMTJ, the Ministry of Health, NCBI.
The report aims to specify health care peculiarities for international patients in a particular country, patients' preferences and factors that affect their choice. It is not a call to action — use it for informational purposes only.
Medical tourism: how does it work?
Each patient, who is planning medical travel to Germany or other countries, can face such problems:
- how to choose a hospital
- how to get a medical visa
- how to seeing a doctor in Germany as a tourist
- how to start treatment immediately and do not wait in the queues
- how to undergo the most effective treatment for a reasonable price, etc.
All the above-problems can be easily solved if a patient appeals for help to Bookimed. It helps each medical tourist to find the best therapy and top hospital, reduces waiting times for treatment. We do not take charges to organize a medical trip to any country, including Germany. A patient just submits a request, Bookimed medical doctor contacts a patient and gives all the information about a hospital, treatment options, and doctors.
In this article, Bookimed experts tell about top German hospitals, innovative treatment options, price policy and organizational issues.
Statistics of medical tourism in Germany
Annually over 250,000 patients from 170 countries choose Germany for medical tourism. Most of them are from Great Britain, other countries of Europe and the Middle East. The patients choose different German cities for treatment, but still, Berlin is the most popular for medical tourism.
Germany is one of the leaders of global medical tourism. It takes the 2nd place in Europe after Switzerland regarding the amount of financing in the medicine. The money are steered into state-of-the-art equipment of hospitals, studies in cancer treatment and HIV.
Why do patients choose Germany for medical tourism?
Advanced level of medicine
German healthcare system is one of the most advanced in the world. All the medical services are regulated in the state level: German hospitals must be approved by certain certifications:
- German Institute for Standardization (DIN)
- Cooperation for Quality and Transparency in Healthcare (KTQ-GmBH)
- Telemedicine for the Mobile Society (TEMOS).
German clinics are also certified by ESMO (European Society for Medical Oncology) and JCI (Joint Commission International).
These certificates ensure patients that all the medical procedures are safe and comply with the highest quality standards.
It is necessary to pay for the quality, that is why German medicine is not cheap.
However, medical tourists from other countries pay the same cost as German citizens.
Local clinics do not require extra charges from foreigners.
German doctors conduct treatment according to the international protocols.
Specialists use only original drugs specially produced for the European Union member countries.
Local hospitals are equipped with highly-accurate robots.
Among them is Da Vinci Robot which performs surgeries through incisions up to 1cm. It is used for surgical treatment of prostate, bladder, kidney cancers, and even for applying catheters in case of cardiac arrhythmia diagnosis. EndoAssist, LapMan, Freehand devices replace the assistant-surgeon.
They allow shorten patient’s recovery period, reduce risks of complications and blood loss.
Availability of innovative techniques
Scientific research centers work on premises of the university hospitals. They develop innovative therapies and implement them into the treatment program. For instance, doctors use Trilogy system and TrueBeam STx linear accelerators to destroy malignant tumors. The devices influence a tumor without affecting healthy tissues.
To treat HIV positive men, German doctors perform cleaning of seminal fluid from the virus. Then it is used for the IVF (in vitro fertilisation).
In 2013, “Law about medical error” was passed. It is in force for citizens of Germany and foreign patients. According to this document, a medical tourist has a right to:
TOP specialties for medical tourism in Germany
Germany is a primary health tourism destination for patients who have advanced diseases and are ready to pay for the high-quality treatment and its result. Usually, foreign patients go to Germany to treat diseases of the following specialties.
Oncology is a top specialty for medical tourism. There are 43 specialized oncological centers in Germany which specialize in the treatment of over 300 types of cancer. German doctors apply medications of targeted- and immunotherapies. They influence the cancer cells but do not affect healthy ones.
The average recovery rate of cancer in Germany is: in men - 61%, in women - 66%.
Annually, specialists perform over 120,000 successful cardiac surgeries annually. German cardiac surgeons operate through the small incisions. Doctors do bypass surgery through the intercostal 5cm incision (the traditional one is 20cm) and replace cardiac valves through a catheter with TAVI method.
German specialists treat herniated discs, tumors of the brain and spinal cord using safe methods. According to the statistics, only 50% of patients with hernias undergo surgical treatment. The success rate of such an intervention is 90%. Due to the high recovery index, neurosurgery is one of the main specialties for medical tourism in Germany.
Neurosurgeons apply endoscopic and laser techniques for the removal of tumors. Some neoplasms can be removed without incisions through natural openings like the nose. Doctors perform surgery under control of neuronavigation that increases the accuracy of neurosurgeons’ movements.
The main feature of orthopedics in Germany is a vast experience of doctors. Over 11,150 orthopedists and specialists in sports medicine practise in Germany. They conduct the knee and hip replacement through small incisions up to 10cm, in case of traditional surgery - up to 20cm. Doctors install endoprosthesis using robotic surgical systems. The systems help to coordinate movements of a surgeon and install the endoprosthesis with 100% accuracy.
TOP-3 hospitals in Germany for medical tourism
When patients are planning medical travel to Germany, their primary demand is to undergo treatment in the best hospital. There are 3 medical institutions known for their high-quality medical services, professional doctors and up to 100% recovery rates.
Asklepios Hospital takes the 2nd place in the ranking of best clinics for medical tourism according to the international organization MTQA. The main specialty of the Hospital is the treatment of cancer.
All the centers of Asklepios are certified by German Society of Hematology and Oncology DGHO. The specialists apply medications for immune- and targeted therapies chosen for each patient individually.
Charité is one of the most popular clinics for medical tourism in Berlin. It is certified by the following organizations: IQM (controls quality of medical services), German Society for Oncology (controls the compliance of cancer treatment with international protocols). Charité is one of a few German clinics which accepts foreign patients for liver transplant. Prof. Johann Pratschke has over 20 years of experience in transplant procedures.
The Orthopedics Center of Charité is the largest one in Germany. It receives over 8,000 patients annually. In 2011, German politician Angela Merkel underwent treatment of meniscal tear at Charité.
Solingen Academic Hospital is in the list of TOP medical institutions in Germany according to Focus magazine ranking.
Medical tourists choose Solingen for performing orthopedic and neurosurgical operations. Doctors conduct here over 1,000 surgeries on the brain and spinal cord. Chief Physician Prof. Ralf Buhl of the Neurosurgery Department operated American actor George Clooney.
Top doctors in Germany
Prof. Ralf Buhl is a leading German neurosurgeon. The Doctor is the Head of Neurosurgery Department at Solingen. Prof. Buhl has performed over 4,000 successful operations for last 20 years. His fields of expertise are treatment of herniated disks, brain and spinal cord tumors, diseases of the peripheral nervous system. Dr. Ralf Buhl is a therapist of George Clooney, the world famous actor.
Prof. Sebastian Melchior is a Chief Physician of the Urology and Nephrology Department at Gesundheit Nord Clinic. The Doctor is in the list of the best German urologists according to Focus magazine rating. The overall experience is more than 20 years. Dr. Sebastian Melchior specializes in robotic surgery and performs operations with the highest success rate.
Prof. Axel Stang is top German specialist in oncology and onco-hematology. Dr. Axel Stang is the Chief Physician of Asklepios Barmbek Onco-Hematology Department. The Doctor applies molecular and targeted therapies by antibodies. These innovative treatment options reduce a tumor size and affect healthy tissues minimally.
See more German doctors here.
Health tourism in Germany: prices for diagnostics and treatment
The cost of medical care for foreigners in Germany are the same as for local patients. The prices are regulated on the state level that makes healthcare in Germany reasonable for tourists.
Before arranging medical travel to Germany, a patient needs to make a prepayment to the account of a clinic. This prepayment includes a preliminary cost of diagnostic and treatment procedures. After treatment, a hospital recalculates all the charges. If a final price is lower or higher than a prepayment, a patient gets unused funds back or pays extra.
Consultation with an oncologist
IVF (In vitro fertilization)
Bone marrow transplant
How to undergo treatment in Germany?
Step 1. Choose a hospital
Over 2,300 medical institutions work in Germany. Both state and private hospitals serve foreign patients. A patient has to take into account such factors:
- accreditation of medical institution;
- whether a hospital has a specialized department for diagnostics and treatment of your disease;
- doctors’ qualification and experience.
Step2: Get treatment program
Before coming for treatment to Germany, each patient receives a treatment program. It includes the list of diagnostic and treatment procedures, their price and the duration of treatment in a hospital.
Step 3. Tickets, visa, accommodation
A patient can get in Germany by car, bus, and plane. The cost of tickets varies. Medical tourists who do not have Schengen visa type C, need to receive it. The period for issuing is from 5 to 7 days. The approximate cost of medical visa in Germany is €60.
There is a list of countries whose citizens need to receive a visa for medical tourism in Germany.
A patient can also stay in a hotel. The cost of the room is from €117 per day, the rent of 1-room flat is €400-800 per month.
Reviews about medical treatment in Germany
My gynecologist detected induration and prescribed mammography. It diagnosed breast cancer, and a doctor told me to remove a left breast. I was shocked. Then I read reviews about treatment in Germany.
I was recommended to undergo treatment in Solingen Hospital. After a diagnostics, it appeared that a breast could be preserved. So, doctors removed a tumor and prescribed chemo. Now I am healthy and don’t have any traces after surgery.
I have already had ulcerative colitis for 3 years. But I started to notice some unpleasant sensations in the lower abdomen. Gastroenterologists could not say anything, except that the sensations were manifestations of colitis, studies did not reveal anything. I suffered 3 months and decided to go for treatment to Germany. Via Bookimed I contacted the hospital in Solingen and found out the prices.
Almost immediately doctors found intestinal cancer (stage 1A) - they have very accurate tomographs. The tumor was about a centimeter, and I felt something, because of its location (there was a nerve). I was not even operated on - doctors removed cancer with an endoscope. Now there are no unpleasant sensations, even colitis does not bother.
In October 2016, my son (5 years) was operated in Germany. His diagnosis was astrocytoma of the brain, on the cerebellum. The surgeon Ulrich-Wilhelm Tomale operated. The surgery was successful! The tumor was removed completely!!! On the fourth day, a child could already walk, on the sixth day we were discharged! Much thanks to all the staff of the clinic. The attitude of the staff is beyond praise. It is great that parents can be with the child even in the intensive care unit right after surgery. Our son fell asleep and woke up with his parents and his toys. Thanks again!
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