Industry Report

Russian Healthcare Market: Key Criteria for the Launch of a Swiss Product

Despite numerous import-substitution initiatives and efforts, the reality remains the same: the Russian healthcare system heavily relies on imports. Most high-tech and innovative products are imported from Europe and the United States. The share of foreign production in the medical equipment sector is above 80%. What are the opportunities for Swiss suppliers and how can they successfully export to Russia?

medtech

A large variety of foreign producers are represented on the Russian market from various countries in different price ranges. Traditionally, manufacturers benefit from the good reputation of products coming from Switzerland, which embody quality and reliability. The Russian client is no exception. Very few consumers, however, are aware of Swiss medical equipment brands. Clinic representatives that we have questioned could mention only one Swiss medtech brand – Schiller.

Healthcare in Russia is characterised by a strong contrast between public and private sectors. The public system is the biggest, with federal, regional and municipal authorities managing polyclinics, hospitals and research centres. The constitution of the Russian Federation, which was adopted in 1993, gave citizens the right to state-funded healthcare. The private system is small and is primarily concentrated in urban areas. Likewise, there is a voluntary health insurance system operating in large cities that is purchased mainly by employers and provides access to top-level facilities.

Both private and state clinics rarely purchase equipment directly from manufactures. Private hospitals usually have several contracts with local distribution companies while public clinics organize their purchases through bids in which local distribution companies take part (foreign legal entities are not allowed to participate to bids). In this context, cooperation with one or more local distribution companies is a necessary condition of acting in the market.

Russian distributors are, in most cases, well informed about the different types of medical equipment on the market and already have some preferences. In order to convince a potential Russian partner to enter a cooperation agreement, a product should match several criteria:

The product must be unique

The manufacturer has to present its benefits for physicians and its superiority to competitors in a very clear and well-founded way. The technical aspect is very important. 

A product must belong to the distributor’s business area

Distributors look for new products relevant to the area in which they currently operate. This is why it’s necessary to look for relevant distributors with the right portfolio.

Favorable financial terms

Pricing is an important factor. The availability of a good discount and flexible sales plans are important factors for a local distributor.

Constant Communication

For many distributors, the presence of an official representative in Russia does not play an important role. An important criterion, however, is the responsiveness of a manufacturer to questions and problem-solving efforts with equipment. Ideally, the manufacturer responds to requests within one day.

Maintenance conditions

With heavy and sophisticated equipment, it’s important to have a team of engineers, a service center in-country (in one’s own or a partner’s), and to ensure availability of spare parts (a warehouse or through prompt delivery).

Reference list

In a company presentation, it’s important to provide real cases of supplying equipment to hospitals as well as physicians’ and professionals’ testimonials.

After reaching an agreement, it is important to bear in mind that constant support from the manufacturer is critically important during the launch period of the new product – starting from preliminary training and ending with sales support.

Study: the Procurement Process of medical equipment in Russia

The Russian medical equipment market definitively represents considerable potential for a Swiss manufacturer. A deep understanding of different purchasing models, described in our Study of the Procurement Process of Medical Equipment in Russia gives a Swiss SME a foundation for the choice of export strategy.

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