The truth about the development of medical tourism in St. Petersburg

In a recent interview, Mikhail Remizov – head of the Department of medical rehabilitation and Spa treatment of the city health Committee, spoke about the development of medical tourism in St. Petersburg.

Today, medical tourism is actively developing in St. Petersburg. The city Agency of medical tourism was established in the city, designed to develop the export of medical services. However, they remain not only in implementation but also in management activities. Today, in the field of medical tourism, there is no clear division into “medical tourists” and just foreign citizens.

Conflicting indicators

However, the Government of the Russian Federation has set targets for the export of medical services by 2024. So the total number of medical tourists should be about 500 thousand people. In St. Petersburg, in turn, in the program of tourism development until 2023, there are targets of 325 thousand people in the medical field.

How to achieve the set indicators and what quality of data selection will the existing system of statistics give? Today there is no approved statistical calculation of medical tourists, and as a consequence of accurate statistics on the industry. But expert assessments are still available: it is believed that 135 thousand patients who arrived both from Russian regions and from abroad were treated in St. Petersburg clinics in 2017. Mikhail Remizov at a meeting with journalists called and other figures: according to him, in 2017 from abroad to be treated in St. Petersburg came only 4650 people. “And in 2019 it is planned to reach the volume of 8670,” he said.

These modest figures are also noted in one of the largest commercial medical networks – RZD medicine. “Yes, we have patients who can be classified as “medical” tourists – the head of the Road clinical hospital of Russian Railways in St. Petersburg Georgy Karapetyan. – However, in the total amount served by the hospital, they occupy only 3 – 3.5% – we are talking about no more than 500 patients per year.” At the same time, 90% of “medical” tourists are Russian-speaking, and seven out of ten come to St. Petersburg for medical care from neighboring countries.

What is necessary for development?

“To the ability to provide high-tech assistance, we need to add quality management and routing of services, as well as the ability to actively promote the city in the regional and international markets,” was announced in the profile Committee of Smolny. About the same repeat now and the Chairman of the profile Commission at the Russian Union of tourism industry in the Northwest. They are sure – it is necessary to unite efforts, to create a final product and skillfully to advance it in those markets which can be perspective. “Some companies have already started to hire managers for medical tourism, – says Tamara Avdeeva. – It is interesting for the tourist industry at least because it can significantly affect the seasonality factor, smoothing its influence.”


The head of the medical tourism Agency Vladimir Spirin complains that “there are practically no specialists capable of working in this complex field”. And the General Director of the company “Medassist” Lyudmila Staroverova says that “no matter how high quality the product is, it is difficult for beginners, as the basis of the clientele in this sphere of tourism are regular customers.” Statistics “Medassist” shows that out of a hundred requests in the field of medical tourism during the year, only six are implemented. This means that these services should be actively promoted.

And with this, too, complexity. On the main tourist portal of the city there is a special section dedicated to health tourism. On the site you can still find basic information about medical and health services in English and other foreign languages. But it is necessary to follow the link to the address of a particular clinic or sanatorium – and there everything is in Russian.

What’s next?

All this only shows that there is a lot of work ahead for medical tourism in Russia. It is necessary to agree not only at the regional level, but also at the Federal level. It is important to have the same means and methods of collecting and producing statistics. Regulators should help exporters of medical services to form packages of proposals and promotion tools. In this case, the prospects of medical tourism in St. Petersburg and throughout the country will be rosy.

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