Poland is the second largest economy in Central & Eastern Europe, but has an average per capita income. Poland is estimated to have a GDP of US$529.0bn in 2013 that is expected to increase by an average 3.5% per annum between the period 2014 and 2018 to reach US$733.7bn in 2018. The country’s GDP per capita is expected to rise from US$13,800 in 2013 to US$19,117 in 2018.
Poland’s population of 38 million makes it one of the biggest health care markets in Central/ Eastern Europe. Polish people generally value good health and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Until recently, Poland had a relatively young population in comparison to the societies in Western Europe, though its population is now aging fast. As a result, the share of people aged 65 and above as compared to people aged 15-65 will surpass 40% in 2050, thus putting Poland among the regions with the highest aging population in Europe. Poland’s aging population will lead to a higher incidence rate of various diseases and greater demand for top quality specialists, rehabilitation services and long term care, thereby driving the demand for medical devices.
Poland’s health insurance system, National Health Fund (NFZ) established in 2003, provides annual funding to the public sector for purchasing equipment and medical supplies, including drugs. The country’s public healthcare sector has been witnessing challenging financial conditions and financing is still a problem, though the government has increased spending since 2004. Poland now spends around 6.7% of GDP on healthcare, though it is still insufficient to fully cover the cost of medical equipment and upgrades required in hospitals. The outlook for the country’s public healthcare sector remains uncertain over the short-term.
Poland’s healthcare sector has witnessed a rapid growth due to its demographic and social changes. The end-users of medical devices in Poland are none other than the service providers themselves, which include public hospitals, which is the country’s largest health care sector, and private medical facilities, including outpatient clinics, multi-profile hospitals and diagnostic centers (diagnostic imaging, laboratory and biochemical diagnostics). Private institutions usually maintain a stock of products depending on supply and demand, and are more responsive to a new technology or innovation, provided that it is well marketed.
Polish companies manufacture various products ranging from cheap disposables to electrodiagnostic equipment. Despite the country’s strong industrial base and a significant medical device sector, a major proportion of it is university-based and still under-capitalized. As a result, imports are a fundamental component of Poland’s medical equipment market and meet about 85% of the country’s requirements.
U.S. medical device suppliers are in a better position to cater to the markets for sophisticated diagnostic equipment, patient-monitoring systems, surgery equipment (high-tech surgical devices and mini invasive surgery equipment), oncology and nuclear medicine, and cardiovascular surgical devices.
There is also good potential for advanced diagnostic and operating rooms medical equipment, particularly equipment that can improve efficiency and lower occupancy rates in hospitals and medical clinics. Given Poland’s growing elderly population, U.S. medical equipment suppliers can also capitalize on the demand for all kinds of equipment and aid-supplies used by nurses and families for home-care.
There is growing concern in Poland over the safety of patients and medical personnel among members of the medical profession as well as the public, particularly regarding hepatitis, sepsis and other contagious diseases. In view of the shift in focus of Poland’s healthcare system from protection to prevention, U.S. medical device suppliers will see a higher demand for products that meet stringent personnel safety requirements.
The concept of leasing of medical equipment is also gaining popularity in Poland, particularly among private clinics and medical facilities. Poland does not have any restrictions on sales or import of used medical equipment by state-owned or private medical facilities, though the used medical equipment market is relatively small and does not provide very significant opportunities.
Current market scenario
Poland’s public healthcare sector has been witnessing challenging financial conditions and is undergoing restructuring, which has led to the establishment of short-term and outpatient facilities. This has created the need for implementing advanced diagnostic techniques and new surgical procedures, thereby driving demand for new equipment. The growth of Poland’s private health care sector has also created a need for equipment across general and specialty practice consulting offices, as well as one-day-clinics and private hospitals. Public hospitals purchase medical equipment and supplies through a competitive bidding process by announcing all tenders in a public procurement bulletin
There has been a dynamic growth in private networks of medical facilities across the country, driven by the availability of technical and human resources. The increase in the number and quality of private health-care facilities in Poland is also being driven by medical tourism. An increasing number of foreign patients are visiting Polish hospitals for treatment, as they are certified for quality and regularly monitored by authorized control units. Foreign patients are mainly attracted to Poland due to competitive prices which are much lower than those prevailing in Western Europe, better service, and the shorter waiting time for treatment. Private clinics are free to purchase medical equipment from any sources and trading organization of their choice
Over the 2008-2013 period, the Polish medical device market grew by an estimated 2.1% to USD2,069.7mn, or USD54 per capita, in 2013. This growth was driven mainly by imports and the European Union requirement defined in the EU Regulation of February 2011 on sanitary standards and equipment standards required in hospitals and other health care facilities, and the availability of EU funds.
In Vitro Diagnostics (IVD) (20.3%), ophthalmic devices (18.3%), and cardiovascular devices (13.4%) were the major segments in the medical device market in 2013. Poland imported medical devices valued at USD1,762.7mn in 2013, marking an increase of 12.5% over 2012 and a CAGR of 2.0% over 2008-2013. Imports have grown every year since 2003, except in 2009 and 2012.
However, the Polish medical device market registered a much slower growth in the first quarter of 2014, due to the challenging financial conditions being faced by the public healthcare sector. The outlook for the country’s public healthcare sector remains uncertain over the short-term, due to budgetary restrictions and managerial problems within the Polish public health system, including medical equipment reimbursement regulations, lower number of public tenders, and increase in hospitals’ debts.
Nevertheless, in view of the country’s rapidly growing elderly population and rising awareness of chronic diseases, the Polish medical device market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 7.7% over the 2013-2018 period to reach USD2,997.3mn, or USD79 per capita, by 2018.
Poland imports medical equipment mainly from Western Europe (Germany, Netherlands, Austria, France, Switzerland, and United Kingdom), the U.S., and Asia (Japan and China). U.S. medical equipment manufacturers face strong competition from European companies who have managed to increase their market share due to their competitive pricing and availability of EU assistance packages for Poland.
Foreign medical device suppliers also have to compete with the increasing number of domestic manufacturers in Poland who cater to a growing and increasingly competitive internal market, and are looking to expand to overseas markets. Poland’s domestic medical device production is estimated to be around USD1.4bn.
However, the lack of latest technologies, inefficient production methods, low investment capital, and inappropriate marketing resources make domestic manufacturers highly uncompetitive. Moreover, U.S. suppliers of medical products enjoy good reputation for their high quality products, though they also need to focus on educating end-users and other players in the health care sector in order to be successful in the Polish market.
Entering Poland’s medical device market is relatively difficult, with suppliers of niche and inexpensive products standing a greater chance for success. Potential buyers of imported medical devices in Poland generally accord the highest priority to pricing, followed by local availability of service and spare parts, and finally quality, though some buyers may also give importance to quick delivery.
Medical device suppliers are required to make significant investments in time and expense for introducing new products. It is advisable to carry out extensive marketing and educational campaigns to gain widespread adoption in the marketplace. Polish agents/distributors completely depend on foreign manufacturers for spending on creating awareness of new products at medical trade shows, seminars and conferences.
Medical recommendations are the major source of information on healthcare/medical products and medicines in Poland’s medical device market. Apart from obtaining information about new products from medical conferences and seminars, doctors also expect educated agents/representatives of medical device companies to assist them in their decision to buy the products by answering all their queries. Foreign medical device suppliers need to follow a sound marketing strategy of keeping doctors well informed about new products.
Public hospitals purchase medical equipment and supplies through a competitive bidding process by announcing all tenders in a public procurement bulletin. Private clinics are free to purchase medical equipment and supplies from any sources they like or through any trading organization of their choice.
Being a member of the European Union, Poland’s import regulations for medical equipment matches with the European Union’s Medical Device Directives, covering essential safety, health and environmental requirements. Products that are manufactured as per standards adopted by European standards organizations, and published in the Official Journal as harmonized standards, are considered as confirming to the requirements of EU Directives. After manufacturers apply the CE Mark and issue a declaration of conformity, the product is allowed for distribution within the European Union.
All public hospitals purchase medical equipment through a competitive bidding process after announcing tenders in a public procurement bulletin “Biuletyn Zamowien Publicznych” issued by the Public Procurement Office.