Israel has long been a popular medical tourism destination among Ukrainians. In February 2007, Israeli healthcare services became available inside Ukraine itself, with the opening of the LISOD Israeli Oncology Hospital in the Kyiv region. This healthcare facility brings together leading experts from Israel and Ukrainian doctors to offer international quality cancer treatment without leaving the country. Business Ukraine magazine spoke to LISOD Chief Medical Officer Professor Alla Vinnytska about the challenges of bringing Israeli healthcare to the Ukrainian domestic market.
What kind of impact has the arrival of Israeli medical practices in Ukraine had on the domestic healthcare industry over the past nine years?
We can talk about the steady adoption and implementation of Israeli medical practices in the Ukrainian healthcare community. In terms of cancer survival and recurrence indicators, current figures show that we have already reached the level of Israel and the most developed countries of Western Europe. Since 2007, the LISOD Israeli Oncology Hospital has been accredited and secured the highest category rating from Ukraine’s Ministry of Health. We have organised numerous international conferences and surgical workshops involving Israeli clinical oncologists and Ukrainian doctors, including the medical team working at our hospital.
How do the services and treatments available at LISOD differ from the healthcare patients receive in Israel itself?
There is actually no difference. LISOD is to all extents and purposes an Israeli hospital that happens to be located in Ukraine. It is a little piece of Israel in Ukraine. As the services we offer become known to wider audiences, we are now witnessing a new phenomenon – many of those who previously made the decision to receive medical treatment abroad are choosing to come to us instead. In some cases, these patients say the idea came from Israeli doctors themselves, who asked them: “Why have you come to Israel? You already have LISOD in Ukraine.” Given the services we can offer, coupled with the advantages of treatment in a familiar environment, it does not actually make sense to leave the country. Our diagnostic and treatment procedures are identical to those on offer at top international medical tourism destinations. Before coming to work in Ukraine, many of our experts worked for 25 years or more at some of the largest medical centres in Israel including the Rambam Hospital, Hadassah Hospital, and the Asuta Clinic.
How has the arrival of LISOD in Ukraine effected the medical tourism industry in the country?
Travelling abroad for medical treatment can be a very stressful experience in itself. As well as the obvious challenges presented by illness, patients also face a sudden change in environment, language barriers, and the emotional problems associated with separation from loved ones. Since the opening of the LISOD Hospital in Kyiv region in 2007, tens of thousands of Ukrainians have been able to avoid encountering these issues. The hospital has actually contributed to helping develop Ukraine as a medical tourism destination in its own right. We treat a number of patients who come to us from outside Ukraine, including Germans and Americans.
As well as international standards in medical care, what else can treatment at LISOD offer patients?
As the Chief Medical Officer of the hospital, I consult with patients and doctors every day and see the impact of local treatment from the inside. Ukrainian patients receive the kind of quality care they would expect at top international clinics, but they are able to remain in their home country, bringing a range of benefits. The doctors and staff treating them speak their language and share their cultural background. Crucially, patients are able to undertake treatment with their relatives in close proximity in order to offer emotional support. Thanks to these advantages, we have found that patients tend to recover faster.