MESSAGE FROM THTC FOUNDING CHAIRMAN
Globalization was evident in healthcare long before it became a mainstream paradigm for the business world. For decades, patients from around the world have been traveling to various international destinations to find the best possible treatment. Yet the increasing cost of treatment in developed nations has spurred a new demand: Quality treatment at low cost with an added taste of tourism. The high cost of healthcare in the developed world is seen as a major problem for individuals, employers, employee funds, insurance systems and governments. This has shaped the medical tourism industry within the last decade.
At the crossroads between east and west, Turkey is on its way to becoming the next “center of attraction” for the global Healthcare travel market. Turkey has been going through a comprehensive healthcare restructuring, scaling up its healthcare services and escalating quality improvements to ensure a swift transition. As a result of state-led health system reforms and an influx of private investments to Turkey’s healthcare landscape, the country is now a leading alternative for international patients. Joint Commission International (JCI), an arm of the organization that accredits American hospitals participating in Medicare, has been working with healthcare organizations, ministries of health, and global organizations in over 80 countries since 1994. With 61 JCI accredited hospitals and organizations. Turkey’s private medical infrastructure now becomes one of the leading healthcare destinations in the world.
The Medical Tourism Industry grossed $550 billion worldwide in 2018 and estimates that the market will expand to $ 1 Trillion by 2050. The majority of patients are from the CIS, GCC, USA, ASIA and EU. Although there is limited research covering the trend, it is estimated that 2.7 million Americans traveled abroad for treatment in 2017. The cost savings for patients and their insurance companies seeking medical care abroad are significant. Some employers are also exploring medical tourism as a way to provide quality healthcare coverage to employees at a lower cost. In the EU and Middle East, medical tourism is often driven by the lack of timely access to quality care nearby. For example, the waiting time for elective orthopedic procedures in the UK can be months. Therefore, some patients choose to travel to receive treatment more quickly. In other areas, quality healthcare does not exist so travel is the only option.
The types of interventions that are performed abroad continue to increase. The initial focus was on elective, cosmetic procedures but has expanded to much more complex procedures including complex cardiovascular interventions, transplantation, neurosurgeries, oncological treatment, and major orthopedic, urological and general surgery cases. With an increasing number of alliances and affiliations between top US teaching institutions and foreign hospitals, the exponential increase in the number of quality procedures available abroad is a trend that is expected to continue. Turkish investors have improved Turkey’s healthcare standards and quality by investing for state-of-the-art treatment centers and the latest in medical technology. With an increasing and prospering population of 81 million, the Turkish healthcare industry offers significant opportunities for foreign healthcare investors. Today, Turkish entrepreneurs and doctors have not only created a unique opportunity for the country’s own patients, but also for global healthcare seekers. With successful treatments, competitive and affordable price levels, and a unique geographic location, Turkey is on its way to becoming a preferred health partner for insurance companies, assistance companies, self-run and the government health funds.