Medical Tourism Hub On the Rise: Turkey

As a rapidly rising medical tourism hub which is geographically in proximity with Europe, Middle East and Asia, Turkey has become a substantially preferred frequent destination of plenty of international patients on a global scale with diverse cultural traits and backgrounds, life stories and expectations in recent years. To be able to sort out how Turkey positioned itself as a worldwide medical tourism hub with extensive range of medical services repertory stretching from bariatric surgery, oncology, cardiovascular surgery and medical aesthetics to countless branches of the medicine and what parameters lie behind the remarkable success of Turkey in the field of medical tourism, Turkey’s case ought to be analyzed clause by clause.

  1. Accreditation of Healthcare Facilities and Standardization of Quality

At the turn of the 21st century, Turkey engaged in a comprehensive healthcare reform programme on a large scale rapidly, involving the initiatives aimed at fair distribution of qualified medical personnel all over the country, increase in the number of healthcare facilities and cutting-edge medical equipment, enhancement of infrastructure in line with the EU reforms for Turkey’s full membership. As a consequence of the healthcare reform programme aforementioned above, striking increases in the living conditions in terms of infant mortality rate and satisfaction rate for the health system marking the achieved success were recorded. In transforming the healthcare system, accreditation of healthcare facilities for the standardization of quality emerged as a pressing matter for Turkey. For this reason, the Turkish Ministry of Health initiated the accreditation of healthcare facilities operating in Turkey and the quality standardization in a decisive manner. Turkey is now within the top three countries that have the highest number of accredited healthcare facilities in the world thanks to the implementation of government policy for accreditation of healthcare facilities firmly and active cooperation between Turkish Ministry of Health and private healthcare facilities. Turkey’s initiatives to reform the healthcare system bore fruit during the Covid-19 pandemic by showing how durable it is in terms of functioning of delivery of public health services to citizens in need despite the rapid spread of Covid-19 unlike the developed world where the functioning of healthcare system came to a total standstill. Turkey has also provided medical equipment aid to 160 countries especially when the Covid-19 pandemic was at its peak, UK and USA being in the first place. The Turkish Ministry of Health makes official inspections regularly aimed at the private healthcare facilities in terms of quality standards, medical equipment, medical personnel etc. to check whether the requirements exemplified above are met or not and take the necessary measures accordingly. In summary, Turkey’s success in establishing the quality standardization and rapid accreditation of private healthcare facilities and implementing the healthcare reform programme successfully paved the way for Turkey to become a popular and medical tourism hub on the rise in the world.

  1. Active Participation and Follow-up in R&D Studies, Development of Modern Medical Treatments and High-Quality Services

What distinguishes Turkey as a rapidly rising medical tourism hub in the world is that the private and public healthcare facilities along with the leading medical faculties which are actively stimulated with the government incentives engage in R&D studies and clinical examinations for the vision of developing new methods of treatment, medical equipment in the field of medicine to maximize the patient satisfaction by the delivery of wide range of high-quality services to the patients all around the world and to be pioneer actor in the field of medicine. There are medical faculties in Turkey that carry out R&D studies in regards to the field of medicine in collaboration with the internationally well-known and prestigious healthcare organizations such as John Hopkins Medicine and Harvard Medical School. Turkey’s revolutionary initiatives to change the landscape of medicine bore fruit with the development of a set of path-breaking and telling medical treatments such as the 1st successful face transplant surgery in the world back in 2012. In particular, we as Veraclinic introduced Oxycure Therapy and Sapphire FUE which have been breakthroughs in the concept of hair transplant back in 2013.

  1. Advanced Human Capital

Turkey’s transition to a medical tourism hub from the turn of the 21st century onwards is also related to availability of advanced human capital in Turkey in medicine and Turkey’s ability to sustain the current status of human capital in medicine by means of remarkable allocation of fiscal resources to the medical faculties and the strict requirements set forth. In more than 70 medical faculties, the medical undergraduates are being educated. There are plenty of very strict requirements that have to be met for a medicine undergraduate at the university -who is supposed to be in the %1 percentile in the university entrance examinations called YKS testing wide range of skills such as but not limited to;  analytical, mathematical and visual intelligence to enter the medicine faculties in Turkey- to be certified to work in the health sector. In the medicine faculties, Turkish medicine undergraduates go through 6 years of demanding and labor-intensive education process, covering a wide range of subjects about medicine both theoretically and practically through which they can acquire the skill set, practical experience and theoretical framework required for the professional career. At the end of undergraduate education, they have to take a quite hardcore exam called TUS for specialization in a particular aspect of medicine certifying the proficiency of a medicine undergraduate. As it is understood from above, it requires incorporation of a diversity of skills, experience and knowledge for a candidate to be certified to initiate a professional career in the field of medicine. In this regard, the Turkish Ministry of Health exercises control over the quality of medical personnel strictly while making inspections aimed at the private healthcare facilities. Other than that, Turkey has plenty of medical personnel who graduated from the reputable and prestigious international medicine colleges abroad within the human capital it possesses. Coupled with the high-quality services and commitment to developing new methods of treatments and cutting edge medical equipment, Turkey offers a great deal of services for international patients as a worldwide medical tourism hub.

  1. First-Class Quality at Economy-Class Price  

What paved the way for Turkey to evolve into a popular medical tourism hub and a frequent destination of international patients from all around the world is not only about the quality of services, availability of cutting-edge medical equipment, R&D studies, advanced human capital present as there are additionally practical reasons as to why international patients choose Turkey over other medical tourism destinations. In particular, low pricing of the identical medical services plays quite an important role in the making of a final decision by international patients. In this respect, Turkey has a set of comparative advantages over the developed world especially in the fields of medical aesthetics such as hair transplant, dental and plastic surgery as the medical aesthetics operations are mostly out of the health insurance and has a long waiting time in the developed world and the pricing of medical services generally doesn’t include the hotel accommodation, transportation services, whereas the medical aesthetics operations with first-class quality are accessible at economy-class price and almost have no waiting time and lastly hotel accommodation and transportation services are generally included in the pricing of medical services in Turkey. (Average HT cost in UK: 15,000 Euros, Average HT cost in Europe: 8500 Euros, Average HT cost in Turkey: 2500 Euros)

  1. Diversity of Natural and Historical Beauties

As the cradle of civilizations throughout history, Turkey is home to unique historical artifacts, buildings of great monumentality whose genesis dates all the way back  to the beginning of history of mankind as in the case of Gobekli Tepe in Sanlıurfa that reveals the cultural mosaic and dept of history awaiting to be discovered. In this respect, Turkey is entirely a virgin site offering a tremendous touristic experience with an unprecedented historical depth, cultural heterogeneity and myths of Orient alongside a wide range of first-class medical services at economy-class price for the international patients. In particular, Istanbul, which has been the capital of plenty of unique civilizations throughout history from the Ottoman Empire, Byzantine Empire back to Roman Empire offers a variety of historical and natural beauties such as but not limited to Hagia Sophia, Topkapı Palace, Galata Tower, Dolmabahçe Palace and countless more. Even though the residents have been living in Istanbul for more than 30 years, Istanbul can exceptionally give a sense of mystery that yet there are still lots of historical heritage deep down in the surrounding area unseen. Plus, Turkey is quite rich in thermal resources assisting the international patients’ medical experience. It ranks 1st in Europe and 7th in the world. In summary, Turkey offers countless natural and historical wonders that would be complementary to the medical services in the best way.