RG Connect18 discussed the infrastructure and policies required to ensure the tourism industry continues to significantly contribute to Greece’s economic recovery. At RG Connect19, we will hear the views of experts who spread the word for the country’s world-class medical services. Greece has become a key player in the medical tourism industry, thanks to its temperate climate, highly-trained medical staff and cutting-edge medical innovations. The RG Connect19 ‘Greece as a Medical Destination’ conference panel session addresses the milestones and key challenges, particularly in the fields of IVF and Plastic Surgery.
Joining the session are Alexia Chatziparasidou, Founder and Lab Director of Embryolab Fertility Clinic and Director of the Embryolab Academy; Dr. Dimitris Drakotos, Founder of Art Surgery, member of the Athens Medical Association and member of the Hellenic Society of Plastic Reconstructive Aesthetic Surgery (HESPRAS) and Konstantinos Pantos, Founder of Genesis ATHENS Clinic and Board of the Greek Medical Tourism Council. We are looking forward to hearing their discussion, to be moderated by George Kyvernitis, Vice President of Kyvernitis Travel S.A. this Saturday 5th October.
In preparation for our annual conference we have interviewed several speakers to gain an insight into their work and RG Connect19 sessions. In today’s blog, we speak to leading embryologist, Alexia Chatziparasidou, Director of Embryolab Fertility Clinic & Embryolab Academy, to hear why she has chosen to speak at RG Connect19, how she has seen embryology and medical tourism develop and what opportunities she sees for young entrepreneurs looking to go into the medical industry.
-Thank you for your participation in the RG Connect19 conference, please explain your motivation to speak at the event.
It was the vision of RG that initially captured my attention. RG aims to create a common international platform for accomplished and new generation entrepreneurs where they can interact, collaborate and create new ideas and products! Maybe more than ever these efforts need to be acknowledged, supported and promoted as they are much more promising for our future. I feel very honoured to be part of the annual RG Connect19 Conference, as I fully share the RG vision and values and I am more than happy to support their great mission.
-We are looking forward to the ‘Greece as a Medical Destination’ session. How have you seen the medical tourism industry in Greece develop?
Over the last decade medical tourism industry has become a global phenomenon. People today are more willing to travel abroad for medical reasons, seeking better and in-budget treatments. Greece today is considered an upcoming medical destination where high quality services are offered in combination with a more patient-friendly cost factor. I strongly believe that in response to the growing wave of travelling patients, Greece is ready to claim a bigger part of the available market in the medical tourist industry. More and more providers in Greece design their treatment options according to the needs and expectations of their prospective international patients while adapting and operating in accordance to international quality standards such as ISO. It is a matter of time and joined efforts for Greece to become one of the main global medical destinations and market leaders.
How did you decide to go into the field of embryology and what was the motivation behind starting your own practice?
Clinical embryology is a highly dynamic scientific field! I was very fortunate to “meet” embryology in its early days and closely follow its steps and amazing developments ever since! For me, it was and still is a huge learning experience on more than one level. The two key factors which turn embryology into a fascinating experience are the evolving scientific knowledge that allows us to better understand embryos physiology and the interaction with infertile patients.
My decision to take the big step and start my own practice, back in 2004, had one main motivation: my internal need to support and assist infertile patients with my knowledge and experience. It felt like my life-mission and for me, back then, it was a risk I could not risk not taking!
– How has new technology aided your practice, both as an embryologist and as a business owner? – Is the industry very different compared to when you started working?
Over the 40 years of IVF we have witnessed numerous developments and most of them are the result of technological achievements! Science and technology go hand in hand. For us, technology is our Trojan horse, it breaks walls and allows science to advance!
A recent example is the development of the Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) technology which is the product of molecular biology, genetics, chip technology and bioinformatics! NGS allow us to explore the genetic basis of all the medical conditions and promises more efficient and personalized treatment options in the near future!
A modern IVF lab has very little in common with the one where the 1st IVF embryo was created! Technological advances allow us today to create more favorable culture environments for our embryos where all culture parameters are closely monitored, optimized air handling systems monitor the air purity while high tech cameras monitor the development our embryos. This new era of IVF is even much more active than in previous years as technological revolution has entered our field as well and algorithms and AI are becoming our new partners in IVF practice!
– What are the current technological and medical challenges of embryology, and in our rapidly changing lifestyle influencing our fertility?
As in all scientific fields, despite our immense progress over the last 40 years, still the questions are far more than the available answers! Actually, I feel that we may have even more questions than before… As data is turning into knowledge, new questions arise. Professor Adam Rutherford in his book “The brief history of everyone who lived” accurately pointed out that it is not only what we know that we do not know but all the unknown unknowns! Clearly there is a lot to be done and this is where teamwork, collaborative networks and multidisciplinary platforms play a very important role in advancing our knowledge, diagnostic and treatment options.
Lifestyle changes in recent years have created a new set of challenges. More and more men and women push their family planning for later in life. This creates a conflict as after 35 both men and women experience a natural decline of their reproductive potential. At the moment their only option, apart from reassessing their decision to delay parenthood is fertility preservation. Fertility preservation is provided to women since 2008 and in men from much earlier and allow them to store preserve their fertility. Fertility preservation is also one of the upcoming treatments in medical tourism industry.
– What advice would you give to any young entrepreneurs who want to go into the medical industry?
The medical industry sector is expanding rapidly, especially in these years of technological revolution. The opportunities are numerous and come from different directions. Technological achievements empower our diagnostic treatment and preventive options and hence involve all of us! In this sector the market size equals the global population! A 360o approach will reveal many opportunities for young entrepreneurs. The development of tailored made travel and accommodation options, the development of communication platforms among clinics and patients, advance electronic traceability systems and high tech cryostorage facilities are only few of them! Greeks are well known for their open spirit and mind, they are hard workers and are becoming much better team players this is the reason why I am sure that the young entrepreneurs who will enter this sector will meet and exceed all the challenges!
Thank you to Alexia for this very interesting and inspiring insight into her innovative work. Learn about all of the leading speakers and topical discussions at RG Connect19 and book your tickets to hear Alexia and over 40 other leading expert speakers as we inspire, learn, connect and make an impact together!