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Russians head to Finland for health care

Russians are expected to make increasing use of Finnish healthcare providers in the coming years. (Photo: Orton)

Health tourism is a growing industry in Finland thanks to an increasing amount of Russian customers. The latest figures show a major increase in Russians seeking Finnish healthcare over the last few years, and experts say that the trend will continue.

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Finland has high quality health care services, but their importance as an export product has been marginal. Expansion of profit-driven health care for foreigners has been hampered by the small market in Finland, the increase in demand from Finns, and by language problems.

Tero Silvola, managing director of healthcare broker Nordic Clinic, told YLE “It is now predicted that, over the next 10 years, the Russian healthcare market will grow. Private markets can grow up to three-fold from the current level. In the market in question there is not a great deal of trust in the quality of health services, and a large part of that demand will turn to the Nordic countries.”

The Orton Orthopaedic Hospital in Helsinki has brought foreign patients to Finland since the mid-90s. The number of Russian users has already risen steeply in the last few years and the overwhelming majority of its foreign patients now come from Russia.

”In the last three years the number has grown around 60-70 percent each year,” said Orton Managing Director Juha Aarvala. ”At this moment the impact is around 5-10 percent of our turnover. The need and potential is noticeably bigger than what we have at this moment realised.”

Finland has launched a new programme called Finland Care. Based in St. Petersburg the programme’s office promotes health tourism from Russia to Finland and supports the establishment of Finnish companies in the Russian markets.