By 2022, South Korea expects to host 998,000 medical tourists. The Republic of Korea is a country of limitless potential with progressive hospitals of the future, supercomputers for treatment, innovative procedures. 2022 Bloomberg Innovation Index ranked Korea the most innovative country for the 3rd year in a row. And the government plans to use these achievements to boost medical tourism.
Explore Korean top medical destinations, prices, hospitals with us!
- Why is South Korean medical tourism so popular?
- Top 5 specialties for medical tourism in Korea
- Top 3 hospitals
- Medical tourism in Korea: costs
- Guide for medical travel to South Korea
The material shows medical tourism trends and describes the leading expert-opinion-based specialties in the country. This information relies on the Bookimed statistics, patient reviews, analysis of the health tourism characteristics in 28 countries, data compiled from multiple variable sources: IMTJ, the Ministry of Health, NCBI.
The report aims to specify health care peculiarities for international patients in a particular country, patients' preferences and factors that affect their choice. It is not a call to action — use it for informational purposes only.
Why is South Korean medical tourism so popular?
Cost savings. Patients from the UAE, USA, and Japan have a medical trip to Korea to find affordable treatments compared with their homelands. The explanation of such a difference in pricing is in Korean government. It supports the system of affordable healthcare and sets the prices for a lot of procedures. Some medical institutions offer package prices, especially for plastic surgery and checkups. This helps a medical tourist to save up to 40% for medical expenses, even including flight and accommodation.
Advanced treatment options. People from China, Kazakhstan, and Russia choose the Republic of Korea due to state-of-the-art equipped hospitals and modern procedures to obtain. The hospitals have IT systems from leading Korean techno conglomerates as Hyundai, Samsung, LG. All cutting-edge diagnostic and treatment technologies as 7T MRI, SPECT/CT scanner, RapidArc Technology, Da Vinci robotic systems, etc. are also available here.
Proven quality. The quality of medical services in local hospitals is under control on national and international organizations. 55 Korean medical centers have an Accreditation by the local Ministry of Health and Welfare as appropriate to serve international medical tourists. 26 medical centers have JCI (Joint Commission International) certificate as the trustful providers of medical care.
Doctors’ qualification. Korean doctors have a strong educational base after 10-12 years of study. During their training, they have internships abroad. Most of the doctors have national and international certifications as a prove their high-level skills.
Clinical trials. In 2018, South Korea was ranked the 6th country in the world for the amount of clinical trials provided. The country is one of the largest research hubs for enterprises dealing with pharmacy, and biotechnology, medical equipment. Thus, a patient can have access to all innovations in treatment easier.
TOP 5 Specialties for Medical tourism in Korea
The country shows astonishing results in cancer treatment leaving behind the USA and Canada.
The treatment of gastric cancer is the best in the world. Korean hospitals present a survival rate of 69.4% while this index in Japan is 63.3%, in the USA is 27.7%, and in Canada — only 25%.
The Republic of Korea is the place where electrocauterization was developed. It is a method of removing harmful tissues now applied all over the world. Local doctors apply robotic surgeries, tomo- and proton therapies.
Some of the Korean hospitals as Gachon University Gil Medical Center have supercomputers as IBM Watson. It’s a system with Artificial Intelligence which stores data about cancer cases and offers a doctor the most appropriate treatment plan. Other medical centers like Samsung Hospital have been developing their systems to make cancer treatment more efficient and accurate.
Some experts call Seoul a plastic capital of the world. It’s not a surprise while the country has the highest world’s ratio of cosmetic surgeries provided — 1 million procedures per year.
The colossal popularity of aesthetic procedures is explained by Koreans’ desire to meet local beauty standards. A large number of plastic surgeons do their best to make patients look attractive and young. According to the International Study on Aesthetic procedures, the Republic of Korea ranked 5th by estimated number of plastic surgeries in the world. 5.4% of total Korean doctors are plastic surgeons.
Most of them are gathered in big cities. And due to their professional experience, in particular, Seoul has become a Korean medical tourism plastic surgery heart. Local centers offer plastic surgery tour packages where the transfer, accommodation, procedures and other benefits are included. So a medical tourist can save up to 50% for the procedures.
Foreigners request facial surgeries, body contouring, breast surgeries, and anti-aging procedures the most.
Koreans believe that the key to successful treatment is early detection of the disease. Thus, the Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare has resented the National Cancer Screening Program. And the hospitals have developed a range of screening programs for a fast and efficient diagnostic.
These checkup packages are attractive for people from different countries because at home they meet with:
- lack of high-quality diagnostic equipment
- no specialists with required knowledge and experience for making an accurate diagnosis
- long waiting time for the medical tests
- pricey procedures.
Korean medical facilities have solutions to all these issues and offer medical tourists smart programs with minimal time required and at affordable costs. And only experienced diagnostician provide screenings applying modern Korean technologies.
A person can find all possible options here: cancer, cardiac, brain, female, male, pediatric, and family programs. You may also make up your own checkup plan with desired tests. To find out more about this opportunity, contact Bookimed manager.
Patients out of Mongolia, the USA, Russia, China, Vietnam, Japan, and Canada visit Korea for treating congenital and ischemic heart disorders.
It was the first country in the world where surgeons provided successful heart transplant. Since this breakthrough Korean cardiac specialists have been proceeding with development of new techniques. For instance, Korea shows 99.4% success rate for ventricular septal defect surgery and Tetralogy of Fallot surgery (according to the Korea Heart Foundation statistics).
Moreover, Korean heart surgeons provide 2,000+ coronary artery bypasses per year. The survival rate for them is 98%, while it is lower in the USA — 97.5%.
The Republic of Korea is the best option for those who are looking for safe treatment and minimally invasive procedures for the knee, hip and ankle replacement, the spine surgery or any joint, muscles, and bones treatment.
Local experts decrease pain in joints by 45% and restore their functions by 39%. In case the surgery is prescribed, all manipulations are provided under computer navigation. This makes the interventions very accurate and helps reach up to 98% success rates. It is the world leader in scoliosis treatment with 95% success rate.
Local specialists have a vast experience in orthopedic interventions. On average, they carry out 500+ per years.
South Korean orthopedic surgeons cooperate closely with the International Society of Orthopedic Surgery and Traumatology, US Western Pacific Orthopedic Association, and Japan Orthopedic Association. The partnerships allow using all possible innovations in orthopedics, traumatology and sports medicine available today.
Korea is also one of the leaders in orthopedic clinical trials where they discover new treatments for stress fractures, osteoporosis, and other conditions.
Top 3 hospitals for South Korea medical tourism
Severance Hospitals is the largest Korean hospital for international healthcare. It belongs to Yonsei University Health System (YUHS). Around 1 mln patients entrust their health to YUHS every year. This means 2,700 admissions per day!
The hospital has the Joint Commission International Certification. The certificate confirms all hospital’s medical services meet strict international healthcare standards.
Severance has 29 departments, 3 specialized centers, and a Unit for International Patients. In 2010-2016, it was ranked No. 1 for international patients attracting.
Severance Hospital is a place for the treatment of American soldiers. In 2018, an American President Donald Trump had a visit to it.
Seoul National University Hospital is the best choice for international patients searching for cancer treatment in Korea. It shows the highest success rates in oncology within the country: 91.1% for breast cancer treatment, 99% for pancreas cancer, and 96.6% for prostate cancer.
Every year, SNUH serves over 30,000 patients from 80 countries. Among SNUH patients is the Korean President himself!
Seoul National University Hospital (SNUH) is the leading multidisciplinary state facility in the capital of South Korea. The President of the country receives treatment here.
Since 2004, SNUH has been digitalized completely — all data about patients is stored in the electronic system.
The hospital shows the highest statistics for cancer treatment in South Korea. Other SNUH key specialties are neurosurgery, cardiovascular surgery, pediatrics, and organ transplant.
Seoul University Hospital serves 10,700 patients every day on average.
JK Plastic Surgery Center is No.1 center for South Korea plastic surgery tourism according to the Korean Accreditation Program for Hospitals Serving Foreign Patients (KAHF). The clinic provides over 6,000 foreigners with cosmetic surgeries per year. It offers all kinds of aesthetic interventions and procedures: facial plastics, body shaping, anti-aging therapies with stem cels, all types of hair transplant.JK has a 100% success rate for 85,000+ plastic surgeries performed.
The clinic has 9 specialized units, spa center, own stem cell lab and 24/7 patients monitoring. All the procedures correspond with American quality standards, the equipment is manufactured in Korea or Germany. JK plastic surgeons collaborate with US and Taiwan colleagues to improve cosmetic solution to patients.
Medical tourism in Korea: costs
Breast cancer surgery
The costs in the table are approximate. Contact Bookimed manager to get an exact price for the procedure of interest.
Guide for medical travel to South Korea
Once you decide to visit Korea as a medical tourist, please learn the following steps:
- Choose the right clinic according to:
- type of a hospital — whether the facility has different specialties or a single specialty (for instance, specializing in aesthetic surgery)
- success rates for the procedure/treatment you are interested in
- international recognition, certificates, accreditations
- is the center medical tourists-friendly
- location of the hospital.
Contact Bookimed manager to get assistance and find the most appropriate center for your case.
- Send medical records to Bookimed manager
Bookimed manager will provide you with all info regarding your request: treatment options, prices, clinics and how to arrange your travel shortly. Together you’ll find the most suitable solution. Afterward, Bookimed specialist will make your appointment to the hospital. To Korea, it can take up to 4 days if visa is no required after submitting a request on Bookimed.
- Arrange your medical stay
If you need to get a visa, the arrangement can take more time. At this point, please contact Bookimed. We will help you with organizational issues. Bookimed care team does its best, so you can efficiently resolve questions of a medical visa, transfer, and accommodation. You can find more details about visa to Korea here.
- Treatment and coming back home
Bookimed manager will provide you with all necessary information about your treatment process. Our team will support you 24/7 during your hospital stay and afterward, so you can focus on your recovery.
South Korea is an excellent choice for those who are interested in innovative digital medicine for reasonable prices, keen on Asian culture and ready to have a memorable health tourism experience.