German region successfully targets Arab patients

North Rhine-Westphalia is gaining popularity as a medical tourism destination for Arab patients from the Middle East. The North Rhine-Westphalia region of Germany has more treatment capacity than anywhere else in the country, with 25,000 beds across 90 clinics and hospitals. Medical tourism is seen as attractive and in preparation many places are offering halal food, on-hand translators and concierge services.

Germany is a leader in medical tourism within Europe and competes on quality rather than on price. So it targets better-off patients. The region and the country attract a significant number of Arab patients from the Middle East, mainly from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman.

North Rhine-Westphalia is gaining popularity as a medical tourism destination. With a focus on Düsseldorf, Cologne and Bonn, the region claims to attract a fifth of all international patients headed towards Germany, according to the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis)- although figures are not recent.

In 2010, Health Region Cologne Bonn and Bonn-Rhine-Sieg University of Applied Sciences launched Health Destination Rhineland to position the region as the prime location for treatments for diabetes and obesity and other specialist areas including cardiology, oncology, ophthalmology and rehabilitation.

The region has the highest concentration in Germany of pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, and life science research and development facilities. BioRiver-LifeScience, is collaborating with Health Region Cologne Bonn to ensure a continual knowledge transfer between hospitals and German universities so that patients get the best specialist treatment possible.

University Hospital Düsseldorf offers patient care, clinical research and medical training. The West German Diabetes and Health Centre, Düsseldorf, treats patients with diabetes and then uses telemedicine to monitor blood tests and after the patients return home to the Middle East, saving them additional trips to Germany.

University hospitals and doctors in the Cologne-Bonn Centre for Integrated Oncology Association work together on the latest treatment processes of cancer. Many oncologists use Cyberknife, a state-of-the-art non-invasive alternative to traditional radiation surgery that targets the radiation beams on the tumour itself,

The German National Tourist Office has a sales office in Dubai and there promotes the quality of German medical care to Arab patients from Middle East countries, Arab patients mostly travel with their family members and the region works closely with local luxury hotels. This targeting of all the requirements of the patient and wider travelling family, often including several servants, means this region of Germany locks out competitors just offering medical care.

Regional hospitals stress the importance of taking into consideration the cultural traditions of the travellers, with halal food, Arabic translation services and concierge services to family members while the patient is recuperating.

Düsseldorf’s Briedenbacher Hof hotel offers luxurious suites that expand into larger units if required, for a maximum degree of privacy and comfort of the families. It has Arabic speaking staff, and is connected to two clinics, Preventicum and Clinic of Medical Experts. Le Méridien Dom Hotel in Cologne and Kameha Grand Bonn both have strong networks with clinics in those cities.