The German medical tourism facilitator Medigo.com plans to tap UAE investors even as it seeks a slice of the growing medical tourism market here.
The company expects to raise between €15 million (Dh62.3m) and €20m next year from investors in the US, the Arabian Gulf and CIS countries, said Pawel Cebula, the chief operating officer and co-founder of Berlin-based Medigo.com.
While quality of care and services are improving, cost of treatment will be a challenge here, he said.
“The cost of some treatments here are as high as Germany,” he said. “But Dubai has several advantages such as cultural and physical proximity for many patients and it needs to focus on its core markets such as the Gulf and CIS countries to expand medical tourism.”
Medigo.com started operations in the UAE by providing services to expats going abroad for treatment, but is increasingly seeing patients coming to the UAE for services, he said.
By next month it expects to open offices in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and expand the number of hospitals and clinics in its network in the UAE to 35 from the current 20 by the end of the year. It works with 500 hospitals in 20 countries, with Germany and Thailand being the most preferred destinations.
Last year, Medigo.com raised €5m from the California-based equity firm Accel Partners to expand in the US and UK.
With the Dubai Health Authority pushing medical tourism, the segment has received a significant boost since 2012. It expects to receive 500,000 medical tourists this year, five years ahead of target.
Dubai’s 16 private hospitals are a part of DHA’s medical tourism initiative. Al Zahra Hospital in Dubai, for instance, has introduced packages for visitors that include airport transportation, visa assistance, flight tickets and accommodation booking.
The UAE is the fifth-largest source market for Medigo.com for those travelling overseas for treatment after the US, Australia, the UK and France. It handled about 265 outbound patients from the UAE since launching here last December. Of those, 20 per cent are expats living in the UAE going to their home countries for treatment. Most of the outbound patients from the UAE head for Germany for cancer treatment, neurosurgery and orthopaedics.
About 800 people have travelled with the company to the UAE with plastic surgery and weight loss surgery among the most popular treatments sought.
Follow The National’s Business section on Twitter