Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Winter Journey to the (Free) Market in Tbilisi

No tanks. No ruins. Business as usual in Tbilisi. When I say business, I mean free markets.

Georgia's radical move to market in healthcare is bearing fruits. I visited the brand new Aversi Clinic in Tbillisi. Inaugurated in November 08, this private hospital offers a wide range of services, from genetic testing to lithotripsy and laser eye surgery. Its technical equipment was outstanding while the spotless cleanliness would make even Swiss hospitals blush with envy.

The Aversi group was founded an entrepreneurial Georgian paediatrician, Paata Kurtanidze, who teaming with an economist, moved from prescription of medicines to drugstore distribution and then on to pharmaceutic importation and production. The next logical step was the fast paced development of a fully private "state of the art" hospital network. Five modern Aversi hospitals have opened within the past two years, while more than 100 drugstores and medical outlets currently serve 1'200 000 Georgian customers a month!

Aversi not only keeps the prices of its services tuned to market, a confirmed recipe for success, it also caters for low income customers through discount actions and engages in charitable operations: Aversi has offered free cataract surgery to poor patients and has supplied socially deprived children with free medicine. It is one of the motors of a generous health voucher action targeted at 196'000 pensioneers living in Tbiisi and designed to help them cover part of their medical expenses!

Aversi's successful business model demonstrates how in an unhampered medical market, the natural alliance of entrepreneurial medicine with creative pharmaceutical industry yields high quality, ethical, patient-centered medical service accessible to rich and poor. And when I say high quality, I mean high quality even by Swiss standards. If you don’t believe me: invest in a visit to the market in Tbilisi. We'll organize the tour with pleasure.