Lithuanian experience of private medicine for Irish patients
The Medical Diagnostic and Treatment Centre operating in the capital of Lithuania for 22 years by now and boasting the good reputation is consistently assuring quality and improving it, it is an ongoing journey on the way of unconventional thinking, different approach, improvement of actions by creating the best value added for customers. ‘Quality is very important for us, as this value makes our life and professional vocation to serve people, patients meaningful’, said Head of the Medical Diagnostic and Treatment Centre Dr. Laimutis Paškevičius.
The achievements of the Centre in the sphere of quality received highest quality evaluation in health care – international Hospital standard of the US Joint Commission International, which is also called the Gold Seal of Approval. The mission to serve people encouraged to go beyond the boundaries of Lithuania. The first but not the last stop according to Mr. Paškevičius became Ireland.
Laimutis Paškevičius has been the head of the Centre for thirteen years. During that time the establishment has significantly expanded, lots of specialists joined the team, while the initiatives of Enterprise Lithuania agency contributed to its success. We are talking with the Head of the Centre about all this.
– The Medical Diagnostic and Treatment Centre has been in operation since 1995. What was the beginning like?
– The reason for opening the Centre in 1995 was highly relevant: the field of medical diagnostics at that time was very weak, medical equipment of Soviet times was hopelessly outdated, quality medical services could not be ensured with such equipment. Shareholder of the Medical Diagnostic and Treatment Centre, prominent entrepreneur and patron Saulius Karosas and his mother, famous musician, teacher and charitable person Birutė Karosienė, whom we call the godmother of the Centre, were travelling abroad a lot, were interested in various business fields, including medicine. Ms. Karosienė had a business idea which her son decided to realise. He established a private medical centre, which in the beginning had only about 20 doctors and about 200 laboratory tests were conducted.
– Was the Centre developing rapidly?
– Truly yes. From the very beginning, the mission of the Centre was precise and quick diagnosis, all that helped to expand. The first computer tomography device in Lithuania was acquired, later on the magnetic resonance tomography equipment enabled doctors to diagnose illnesses in a more accurate and faster way. Later on, the Centre successfully developed surgery, rehabilitation services, while today about 200 doctors working in nearly all fields of medicine take care of the patients. I believe that an excellent conception and direction were chosen for the Centre: the establishment was based on and applied exclusively scientifically proven medical principles, introduced the latest diagnostic and treatment technologies, international quality management systems setting the very top requirements. All these efforts strengthened patients’ trust in the establishment, formed a group of loyal customers.
– How does the Centre look like today: which services are provided, what makes it different from other similar establishments?
– From a compact private diagnostic centre we grew into a modern clinic–hospital today, which is visited by patients with various health problems and various services are offered: from preventive examinations, illness diagnostics to therapy, surgical treatment and rehabilitation. Diseases are diagnosed and patients are treated according to the modern international good practice standards. Knowledge and modernity are highly appreciated in the Centre. From the very beginning we focused our huge attention on quality equipment and continuous qualification improvement of our staff. With time, the Centre was expanding, was further developing its mission, but sustaining and strengthening the backbone of its activity: quality and quick medical diagnostics. In recent decade, we focused our special attention on the fundamental value of the Centre, i.e. quality and patients’ safety, therefore by the quality achievements and awards the Medical Diagnostic and Treatment Centre stands out from other private health care institutions not only in Lithuania or Baltic Region, but also in other European countries.
– How many employees does the Medical Diagnostic and Treatment Centre have?
– At present, the Centre has over 420 employees, therefore patients can have all their health care concerns solved in half a day, they do not have to wait for appointments for weeks or months, consulting of all required doctors is provided immediately, usually all necessary examinations are carried out on the same day. Not only experienced top-level specialists, doctors of science, professors work in the Centre, but also young doctors with high potential, proper moral and Hippocratic values who become leaders in their fields in a couple of years. We are very proud of our harmonious team, we appreciate every member of the team, we understand that without our excellent employees our establishment would not have achieved that much.
– How did Brand LAB project of Enterprise Lithuania agency contribute to the success of the Centre? What benefits did this project bring?
– In the past, Enterprise Lithuania and Competitiveness Centre were implementing a project according to the Benchmark Index comparative analysis system. Based on the comparative analysis index and methods of the system of balanced indicators, the activities of the Centre were compared with the activities of other foreign countries, while the results were aspiring. That encouraged us to think about development not only in Lithuania but also in foreign countries. Based on the insights of the project, we prepared a development strategy to Ireland – the country, where there are Lithuanian emigrants, therefore we can provide our services not only to Irish nationals but also to our fellow citizens who emigrated from Lithuania. To have our idea justified and to develop it further we participated in the Brand LAB project, developed a strategy of company’s brand development and marketing, purified our target audiences, prepared a communication plan and most importantly, an offer of exclusive value was developed, which is oriented to this market in particular, since every market is different. I do appreciate the attitude and work of Enterprise Lithuania agency. I had an opportunity to work with people of exclusive qualifications, we continued our successful cooperation with them when developing the activities of founded LitCare Medical tourism cluster. I think there should be more projects like that, which give an opportunity for business and consultants’ teams to work together, help to develop projects that require broad competences, to implement them successfully.
– What is the exact activity of the Centre in Ireland, how does this Centre differ from its Lithuanian colleague?
– We provide various services in Dublin, the capital of Ireland: family medicine, children’s diseases, urology, gynaecology, dentistry, etc. We chose Ireland because it is a quite familiar country – there are not crucial cultural differences between Ireland and our country. We moved a slightly reduced model of the Medical Diagnostic and Treatment Centre to Ireland: not just services but also approach to customers’ service, employees, quality. Though Dublin affiliate is much smaller than the Medical Diagnostic and Treatment Centre, but we want to introduce our created successful Lithuanian model of private medicine into it, and we are successful in that.
– What are the differences between Lithuanian and Irish health systems?
– Ireland basically lacks well qualified doctors, medicine is not of a very high standard, therefore customers leave our affiliate highly satisfied. Lithuanians think that in foreign countries, e.g. Ireland, England, Sweden, etc. health care conditions are better, that there are no extra charges, but when we visited Ireland we realised that the situation is slightly different. Additional health insurance system is strongly developed there, while patients have more freedom to choose a private medical establishment and to receive compensation for services received there both from state and private health insurance funds. When improving health care system and bringing it closer to individual patient’s needs, it should be considered by Lithuania as well.
– What are the future plans of the Medical Diagnostic and Treatment Centre?
– We have plans to continue developing our activities in Ireland and other countries. Sort of interest to try the abilities of our team in other EU countries arose. In Lithuania, you can have various thoughts about yourself, but when you go to other countries, you have to compete with health care institutions of other countries – it is a challenge to improve yourself. While good practice acquired in foreign countries will always come back home.
Aivaras Knieža, Director of Export Department of Enterprise Lithuania
Path to foreign markets usually starts from knowledge accumulation and scrupulous preparations. First of all, it lets you to dispel certain myths – some companies fare to enter foreign markets, as it brings additional risks and costs, effectiveness of which is hard to measure. Many Lithuanian companies willing to launch export take too much on themselves. On one hand, businessmen name lack of information about target markets, on the other hand, they do not manage to work consistently with one market, instead they try their luck in several markets at once, without considering their capacities or knowledge.
Thus, target knowledge not only increases confidence in one’s power, product, service but also lets to feel factors of success more easily.
In addition to already mentioned last year’s BrandLab project, during which companies willing to export learned how to develop their brand, to present themselves or product, service properly, to adapt them according to the needs of a client and market, how to distinguish advantages and to know the market, we have been providing export diagnostic service for over half year. It means that by applying special methodology we help a company to determine its preparation to export level, to evaluate the chosen path for export, market, preparation of products or services. It is an individual work of a certified consultant with a specific company. This year, consultants of Enterprise Lithuania have already conducted diagnostics for nearly eighty companies specialising in different sectors – from engineering, construction to timber, food, textile industries.
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