Interview with Natalia Khonelidze
Clinical Director of In Vitro Fertility Clinic Georgia
In Vitro Fertility Clinic is one of the largest fertility centers not only in Georgia but also in the Post Soviet Countries. The clinic was established at the Zhordania Institute as an IVF department in 1997 and since that time has maintained its reputation as being one of the most successful IVF clinics in the country.
Since 2010 we operate as a private clinic. Our doctors have been trained in various countries including France, Sweden, Germany and Russia. Our team has 17 years of experience. We are the members of the ESHRE (European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology).
PlacidWay: Please describe which is your center’s most wanted treatment / therapy and why?
Natalia Khonelidze: These are the Surrogacy and Donation programs, due to the fact that Georgia is one of the few countries where it is allowed and has liberal laws towards these situation.
PlacidWay: How is your company perceived locally as well as internationally in general?
Natalia Khonelidze: Domestically our clinic is #1 regarding the fertility treatment. It is all because our doctors where the first who started to work on this problem, hence they are well known and this leads to the patients going for the most renown doctors in this sphere. As for internationally, we are working hard in order to increase our international awareness, we already have partners in Israel, Turkey as well as being partner with Placidway, but still domestic patients make up about 90% of our patients.
PlacidWay: How do the patients you cater to benefit from choosing your facility?
Natalia Khonelidze: Our clinic is offering the services of the doctors that have biggest experience in the fertility sphere in the whole Georgia that is why the patients benefit from visiting us, as the chances of successful treatment is higher than other medical facilities in Georgia.
PlacidWay: What differentiates In Vitro Georgia from the other medical centers?
Natalia Khonelidze: We try to offer the best possible services for the lowest price possible. In today’s world we feel that this are the 2 components that the patients care for the most, so we believe that the winning formula is to find the right balance between the two.
PlacidWay: What are the challenges and risks involved in this business, specifically from Medical Tourism perspective?
Natalia Khonelidze:The main risk would be from the government at the moment, for instance if they decide to change some laws regarding our most demanded services (surrogacy and donation). Also we feel that the image of Georgia itself as a country is a risk, as even till this day it is considered as not so desirable location for travelling, not to mention to travel there for medical reasons.
PlacidWay: What kind of additional services do you offer and what should the patient pay for (not included in the stay, meals, transport, all inclusive)?
Natalia Khonelidze: We offer lawyer help for getting a birth certificate for their newborn. Due to the sensitive issues related to the surrogacy and donation, getting a birth certificate with the biological parents’ names written on it is of the utmost importance. That is why we feel that it is essential to help our patients with this, as it may prove to be the hardest part for them.
PlacidWay: Is your clientele made out more of insurance, corporate clients (employer sponsored), or individuals?
Natalia Khonelidze: At the moment its more individuals than any other type. Due to the fact that insurance system of Georgia is not as smooth as in the rest of the world and that employees don’t get offered any benefits regarding the fertility treatment issues, we have a shortage of these type of patients.
PlacidWay: What issues have you encountered since entering the medical tourism market?
Natalia Khonelidze: The biggest issues are with the image of Georgia as a country. We have heard stories where patients were scared off by their embassies from coming to Georgia and its hard for our clinic to improve this as it depends more on our government actions. Other than that, there were problems because of the spike in the Exchange rates at the beginning of the year, which lead to the increase in the prices of the services, when you would count in the exchange rate.
PlacidWay: What do you think the patients should know when opting to travel for treatments to your facility?
Natalia Khonelidze: We are trying to improve our image as a medical center that offers worldwide standards in our sphere, with all the modern equipments and technologies. Also the fact that all of our doctors are members of the ESHRE and annually travel to the world health congresses in order to have a perfect understanding of all the new methods that increase the effectiveness of treatments. So the patients should know that even though they are going to Georgia, they will be receiving a treatment that is equal to the treatment they would have got in any other country in the world.
PlacidWay: Finally, a few words on your most recent developments / therapies / services that are unique at In Vitro Fertility Clinic?
Natalia Khonelidze: We have added surgery to our list of services (although strictly surgeries that are associated with the fertility problems) Also we are working on potentially offering PGD services to our patients, although it's still not being implemented yet.
If you want to learn more about In Vitro Fertility Clinic in Georgia don’t hesitate to contact us.