What makes the Mayo Clinic so special

Boxing : First class in the hospital room

When faced with such demands, clinic heads first have to rethink: Orthodox Muslims need an orientation towards Mecca in their room in order to be able to perform their prayers. And that five times a day at fixed times in which no surgery appointments can be made. Pork is of course taboo in meals. Disinfection with alcohol is also out of the question for strict Muslims, says Uwe Torsten, chief physician at the state-owned hospital group Vivantes. Torsten has examined the growth opportunities that patient tourism could offer Berlin's clinics.

Because they are increasingly willing to fulfill special requests and also to invest in large suites instead of simple hospital rooms, for example, and in ancillary rooms for the relatives of the patient and his bodyguards. Because patient tourists from Arabia or Russia, for example, are in great demand - if they are well off. Many a clinic economist hopes to be able to bolster the shrinking health insurance budgets in this way.

It is a very lucrative market: tens of thousands of sick people leave their homes every year to seek medical care in a foreign clinic. You can really make money with it. Uwe Torsten examined this at two large international clinics - and compared them with Berlin. The US Mayo Clinic in Rochester, one of the largest hospitals in the world, treats around 190,000 international patients each year, that is around 52 percent. In Bumrungrad Hospital (Bangkok) the rate is 49 percent of around 890,000 patients. In contrast, the average for all Berlin hospitals is less than one percent - even if individual hospitals advertise more successfully. According to the medical director Heinz Zurbrügg, the private Meoclinic on Friedrichstrasse treats around 1,000 foreigners a year - a third of all of their patients. The German Heart Center in Wedding also cares for 500 sick people from across the borders every year.

At the Charité, the rate is less than one percent, said Lutz Fritsche, deputy medical director of the university hospital, recently at an event of the Berlin business talks on patient tourism. "That is less than we would like."

Why is the American Mayo Clinic so successful? Because they advertise very aggressively for patients, says Torsten. “For example, the clinic has its own office in Saudi Arabia.” Another reason is the openness in dealing with quality data, which is common in the USA: “Clinic rankings have been available on the Internet for years - and the Mayo Clinic lands for many clinical pictures Top places. "

With the clinic comparison of the Tagesspiegel and the Health City of Berlin, which published data on the quality of treatment in the capital's hospitals for the first time in May, such information is now also available to patient mediators from Berlin. "This is very, very helpful if we want to bring more foreign patients into the city," said Hesham Dahshan, the former head of the medical department in the Medical Oversight Bureau of the Saudi Arabian Embassy. "Because they expect indications of good quality - and have long been used to such transparency from other countries."

In the meantime, Dahshan uses his good contacts to bring more patients to Europe as a private mediator. He is currently placing between eight and twelve affluent sick people in the German capital every month. “But slowly there are more and more.” Slowly - also because some clinics still lacked commitment. "If we have to wait days for an offer, the interested parties have long gone to Munich, where some hospitals react much faster," Dahshan criticizes the Berliners' lack of business acumen.

But the clinics are increasingly recognizing the opportunities. They invest and advertise. Twelve Berlin hospitals have joined forces to form the “network for better medical care” (NBMC). NBMC organizer Hans-Jochen Brauns estimates that they take care of around 2500 foreign patients each year. But soon it could be up to 1,000 more. NBMC is about to sign a contract with a state in the Gulf region. Brauns does not want to reveal any more. "The contract will be signed at the end of November."

But not only the clinics benefit from it. Since some Arab princes bring their families with them to go shopping, five-star hotels and luxury shops are also among the winners. But still at a low level, says Lothar Quartz, Marketing Director of Ritz-Carlton, Marriott and Marriott-Courtyard. "Foreign patients make up five percent of our business volume," said Quartz at the Berlin Economic Talks. “We want to expand that significantly.” Because it's worth it: While “normal tourists” or business travelers booked an average of two days in the hotels, patient tourists stayed an average of seven to 21 days.

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