Dental tourism develops in Romania

 

Romania is one of the up and coming destinations for dental tourism. Overseas customers represent a growing percentage of revenue for local dental clinics.

Dragos Popescu, co founder of the Dental Med dental clinic in Bucharest is one of the local pioneers of dental tourism, “Foreigners make up 30% of the clients of the DentalMed clinic in Bucharest; 20% are expatriates living in Romania, and 10% come from abroad specifically for dental treatment in Romania, Of the 5,000 patients treated annually in the clinic, around 1,500 are foreigners. But only 500 are dental tourists. The average percentage of foreign patients in other Bucharest clinics is between 5% and 10%.”

Popescu estimates the local dental services market is worth some EUR 250 to EUR 350 million a year, with foreigners’ share at EUR 25 to EUR 35 million. But only a handful of dental clinics in Romania, most of them located in Bucharest, have the logistics capacity to treat foreigners. But local dentists are now gearing up to treat patients from Western Europe, as standard services in Romania are 20% to 40% lower than in Western Europe.

Popescu worries that if dental tourism takes off that larger firms from Romania or overseas would buy up local clinics or set up their own cut-price chains; but it could be five to ten years before this happens. The market is fragmented, with over 2,500 private dental clinics in Bucharest alone. This private system developed independently from the public health system.

What is also happening is that dentists from other countries are setting up clinics in Romania, as the dental markets in their home countries are already saturated. Dentists are coming from Israel, Italy, Spain, and Greece; which will in turn attract patients from those countries.

Dragos Popescu and his business partner Razvan Popescu recently extended DentalMed with an investment of EUR 1.5 million. The plan is to see turnover advancing to EUR 5 million within five years, from EUR 2 million turnover in 2012. The Romanian investors chose to focus on a single location for their clinic, and plan to expand it with a childrens clinic on the second floor of the existing unit later this year.

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