Ever since 2009 after the launch of the country’s official promotional campaign to attract medical tourists, medical tourism in South Korea has increased by 38.4 percent annually. This has made many countries looking to boost medical tourism wonder whether it’s the way they’ve promoted their program or are there any other factors influencing this boom? And this is exactly what we’ll unravel in today’s post.
According to the KTO, a South Korean tourist organization, the medical tourist numbers are expected to reach 998,000 in 2020 from 399,000 tourists in 2013, and the revenues to increase from USD 885 million in 2013 to USD 3 billion in 2020.
Here are the 5 top factors that are propelling South Korean inbound medical tourism other than their medical tourism promotional campaign.
1. Excellent Cosmetic/Plastic Surgery Procedures
South Korea is among the countries with the highest number of plastic surgeons in the world and the country has truly made this its strength. The international success of both South Korean TV shows and pop music has made cosmetic surgery one of the most popular and successful export areas for South Korea’s medical sector. People from around the world come to South Korea to go under the knife and achieve glamorous looks. Studies show that 40 percent of the medical tourists visit South Korea for plastic surgeries where a huge percentage of tourists are from China.
According to a report published by the China Daily, approximately 62 percent of 31,000 Chinese who traveled to South Korea in 2012 on a 15-day medical tourism had cosmetic surgery done.
2. Government Support
Government support definitely acts as a trump card for the growth of any industrial sector of the country, and let’s just say South Korea has all the support it needs from the government to encourage and boost medical tourism. The South Korean government has announced plans to promote medical tourism in the country. Plans include relaxed and easy visa requirements for medical travelers and legal support to international patients unhappy with treatments. The government also continues to encourage hospital groups in the country to establish their businesses abroad and attract clients from there. In 2013, 111 such operations took place in more than 19 countries including the US, Mongolia, and China.
3. State-of-the-Art Hospitals and Medical Centers
Gradually, South Korea is rising as one of the most preferred destinations for medical travel in the world, because of its state-of-the-art healthcare infrastructure. The country has over 25 modern and international hospitals such as Asan Medical Center which is also one of the largest clinical campuses in the world with over 3000 beds. Besides this, 32 local South Korean hospitals and medical clinics are also now JCI accredited. The country has the highest number of JCI accredited hospitals than any other country in North Asia.
4. Huge Cost Savings on Notable Medical Procedures and Preventive Care
Patients from Japan, the US, and Eastern Russia most often travel to South Korea because of the huge cost savings they offer on notable medical procedures along with delivering excellent care. South Korean hospitals boast an extensive range of medical procedures and treatments such as cyber-knife treatment, disk replacement surgery, disk fusion surgery, and discectomy surgery. On average, tourists can save about 30 to 45 percent on medical procedures in South Korea.
Besides this, preventive care is also huge here as the country offers amazing deals on comprehensive and expensive screening procedures to patients including dentistry and MRIs. Medical tourists continue to visit Hanyang University Medical Center every year to benefit from low cost but comprehensive health screening services.
5. Advanced Medical Technology
Another factor that continues to promote medical tourism in the country is the fact that South Korean hospitals are well-equipped, boasting advanced and cutting edge medical technologies. In fact, most hospitals in South Korea are fully-digitized where maintaining electronic health records is a norm.