Evangelos Spanos founded healthcare provider Bioiatriki nearly four decades ago with the vision to make high-quality health services available in Greece. Today, Bioiatriki possesses over 50 diagnostic centers in Greece and is actively expanding into Cyprus. Through Bioiatriki’s international patient center, CrossBorderMedCare, the company also plays a large part in Greece’s medical tourism industry
You founded Bioiatriki by creating an endocrinology laboratory in 1981 in Athens. Ever since, the company has been continuously expanding to become the leading healthcare provider in Greece. Can you take us through the history of Bioiatriki and your current vision for the company?
Bioiatriki was established in 1981, and the company aimed to offer the Greek market a wide range of high-quality innovative healthcare services. This was driven by my vision for fully accessible healthcare services to all citizens, based on five pillars: reliability of results; patient-oriented approach; scientific excellence; technological superiority, and the creation of the widest network of healthcare facilities in the country. The impressive growth of Bioiatriki can be attributed to the reliability of laboratory results and the provision of high-quality comprehensive medical services. This has been possible through applying internal and clinical quality control techniques, participating in external quality assessment programs, and combining ISO 9001 certifications that ensure high reliability of the laboratory results. Bioiatriki’s vision is currently shared amongst more than 3,000 employees that possess excellent scientific knowledge and a high sense of responsibility, the two attributes we consider most important to excel in the healthcare field.
Bioiatriki actively contributes to Greece’s socio-economic development in various ways. In what ways do you believe that Bioiatriki set new standards in Greece’s healthcare system and what have been your biggest challenges and successes?
Bioiatriki has always been the innovator in its field, by staying at the forefront of scientific developments, and by being the first healthcare provider to invest in medical equipment and in specialized, trained staff with the aim of creating and developing a significant portfolio of specialized tests for almost all medical specialties. The investment in state-of-the-art medical equipment has also been a priority for Bioiatriki, and the focus on the constant development and implementation of advances in diagnostic radiology and nuclear medicine technology are a few examples of our successes. The challenges the private healthcare sector has faced for the last decade in Greece did not stop Bioiatriki from its strategic plan to invest and grow.
In an interview in Kathimerini, you stated that “medicine today means technology”. Between 2016 and 2018, Bioiatriki invested €50 million for equipment modernization and the Group’s geographical expansion in Greece and Cyprus. Can you elaborate on the main axes of the investment and expansion plan and how Bioiatriki is innovating in the healthcare sector?
Some of the impacts of our modernization investment include two acquisitions in Cyprus, and we currently operate 50 state-of-the-art diagnostic centers in Greece. By the end of 2020, Bioiatriki network will operate 56 diagnostic centers in Greece, and our immediate plans in Cyprus include the creation of a 1,200-square-meter, state-of-the-art diagnostic center in Nicosia, the first in Cyprus that will offer the full range of diagnostic tests under one roof.
CrossBorderMedCare serves as the International Patient Center (IPC) within Bioiatriki Healthcare Group and offers patient-centered healthcare services. Can you share with us the importance of this center for the Group’s network?
CrossBorderMedCare’s objective is to offer medical services to international patients nationwide, using the existing network of Bioiatriki Group and our collaborating network in strategically selected areas of high touristic interest. We have created a network of more than 700 collaborating doctors of all specialties, selected for their experience in various healthcare systems abroad. All our doctors are multilingual, bypassing the most important anxiety factor for international patients, which is the ability to communicate with their treating physician. CrossBorderMedCare is the only healthcare provider in Greece that has received the highest accreditation from Temos as a Qualified Partner and has also acquired ISO 9001:2015. This international recognition opens up new horizons for collaborations with the international medical tourism market players, as well as attracting patients from abroad. It is a unique and important offering of our network.
Currently, Greece attracts only three percent of some 14 million health tourists estimated worldwide per year. What is the role that medical tourism can play in BIOIATRIKI growth and Greece’s economic development?
Tourism is among the very few other sectors that have not been affected by the recent economic crisis. In fact, it continues to grow and represents 20.6% of Greece’s GDP. The medical tourism market is growing significantly. The establishment of CrossBorderMedCare in 2013, Bioiatriki’s International Patient Center, was done with the exact view of penetrating this particular market.
What are your views on Greece’s current healthcare system? With the new government in place what further co-operation and synergies can be achieved between the public and the private sector?
We believe that the new government will not take into consideration past preconceptions and prejudgments, and instead, offer a different, more realistic direction for the country. More specifically, the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) approach should constitute the core basis for a brand-new public health restructuring, out of which the state will see financial gains and the citizens will receive high caliber healthcare services. An early step we would like to see adopted is the PPP model of lab examinations within state hospitals.
To what do you attribute Bioiatriki’s success, and what would you consider as the most rewarding moment throughout these years?
For me, the trust we have built among the medical community here in Greece and among our patients is our greatest achievement. In Greece there is a saying that makes us especially proud and honored: “If an exam is not performed in BIOIATRIKI, then it is not performed at all”.