Medical tourism in Turkey: Fast Facts
Annual patient flow: 1,000,000
Price level: low, medium
Top patients’ countries: Europe, USA, Arab league, CIS countries, Canada.
Top treatments: oncology, plastic surgery, orthopedics, neurology.
The Bookimed Marketing team continues to provide business owners updated information about the global healthcare tourism market.
This time we had conversations with the President of the Turkish Healthcare Travel Council (THTC) Emin Cakmak and the Vice President of TÜMSAD Cüneyt Deniz to find out all the details about the medical tourism market in Turkey.
Proceed reading to find the answers to:
- What are the main tendencies of Turkey’s medical tourism development in 2023?
- What are the patients' geographies mainly coming to Turkey for treatment?
- What are the top medical services patients aim to get in Turkey?
- What benefits do people receive by picking Turkey?
- Founding Chairman of the Turkish Healthcare Tourism Council.
- Advisor of IHG International Hospital Groups for Healthcare Investment in Turkey and African Countries.
- Executive member of the Accessible Tourism Committee, Health Tourism Committee, and Foreign Relation Committee of the Union of Turkish Travel Agents Association.
- Executive board member of the GCC, Middle Eastern, and EU business Council of DEIK – Foreign Economic Relations Board.
- Vice President at TÜMSAD, an organization to arrange private and state hospitals cooperation.
- Vice chairman at Medlife Health Group since 2011.
- 20+ years of experience in healthcare management.
- Founder of the INC International Health Services.
What is the main reason why Turkey is one of the top destinations for medical tourism?
Turkey provides a unique combination of cutting-edge technologies, experienced doctors, services, and affordability. We are very strong in oncology treatment, kidney and liver transplants. Turkish doctors do these operations about 10 times more than European and US specialists. Vast experience makes Turkish doctors experts in these specialties.
Plus, Turkey arranges treatment fast. You should wait about 6 months to have surgery in the USA and about 3 months to get a consultation in Germany. It is possible to get these options in Turkey within several days or weeks. So it's evident that such a combination of benefits will always be attractive to patients. And the number of people who pick Turkey for treatment will only increase yearly.
Turkey catches European patients mainly because of prices. However, despite the affordable price policy, the quality of Turkish medical services is as high as in the USA or Europe.
Many private hospitals use American guidelines to treat patients.
Turkey was the country where the first facial transplant was performed. Many patients come to do this operation. All the devices — for diagnostics and surgeries — are regularly updated for the highest accuracy and efficacy.
And of course, it is fast treatment without queues. I can share with you my own experience. I have a fear of dental treatment. All dental implant transplants were made in 2 hands. Most of my teeth were removed. Now I have 11 implants. I have never used any painkillers. It is a unique experience. No pain, perfect quality, and fast service.
When you have implants in Europe, you will need to waste months. But in Turkey, you can do everything for 5-7 days.
Besides prices and quality, Turkey is convenient for travel; it has beautiful views and picturesque beaches. Turkey is also one of the biggest manufacturers in Turkey, so prices here for almost all goods are affordable and lower than in the USA and Europe. However, the price of medical services is a crucial factor attracting patients worldwide.
What is the secret of such competitive prices in Turkey?
Turkey offers affordable but not low prices. For instance, Thailand and India are much cheaper compared to Turkey. But still, they cannot compete with us in providing such a level of medical assistance, services, and logistics.
For patients from Europe and the USA, prices in Turkey seem very affordable. Here they can save up to 50% percent of their budget.
However, for some procedures, like a hair transplant, we offer very low prices, maybe the best in the world. But a hair transplant is not a treatment or even a plastic surgery procedure. Some clinics have 10-15 operating rooms for patients to get a hair transplant. Due to such significant patient flow, medical centers can earn money but make prices affordable. If we speak about hair transplants in Europe, local doctors perform a few such procedures, so they cannot decrease costs much. In comparison, a typical clinic in Turkey can make about 1,000 hair transplants per month, but a European one only does several operations per week.
Tell more about what clinics can serve international patients. Are there any specific criteria for such facilities?
There is no division for medical centers that serve Turkish citizens or inbound patients. They are the same facilities: certified and licensed, equipped with the latest devices for accurate diagnostics and treatments.
However, there is a difference in pricing. Turkish citizens with social medical insurance are served for free in public medical centersю. They pay only 30% of the total bill in private clinics.
What is an annual international patient flow in Turkey?
Like many countries, we experienced some difficulties during the Covid pandemic in 2020. But in July and August 2020, we started to open our borders. All our initiatives conformed with the Turkish Ministry of Health. We have restored patient flow very quickly and now even exceed the number of patients served in the record 2019. If in 2019, we had 1,080,000+ medical tourists from 144 countries. In 2022, we expect to reach 1,500,000 patients.
For 2023, the 100th anniversary of the Turkish Republic foundation, we target to serve 2 million international patients.
If we speak about Americans, about 150,000 patients from the USA come to Turkey for treatment each year. We predict to increase their number to 250,000-300,000 in the next few years.
From what countries do patients mainly come from Turkey for treatment?
Africa, European citizens, the USA, Qatar, the UAE, and Middle Eastern countries.
What treatments do international patients prefer to receive in Turkey?
In 2022, oncology treatment took 36% of all other specialties. Then liver and kidney transplants, cardiovascular surgery, orthopedics, women's health, and fertility treatments go.
Plastic surgery is also one of the top specialties, and it takes about 7% of all demands. Treatments of the severe disease still prevail in Turkey.
The most popular are aesthetic procedures. Cancer treatment is in high demand. Organ transplants, brain surgeries. Gastric sleeves are pretty common.
About 5,000 patients come for gastric bypass monthly.
What treatments do you expect to be popular in 2023?
It is stem cell therapy if we speak about tendencies to focus on in 2023. Such a treatment can cure many diseases and is widely used in the beauty industry.
In 2023, we expect an increase in bone marrow transplants and aesthetics, dentistry, and orthopedics procedures.
What instruments will you use to attract even more patients in 2023?
We engage medical tourism platforms and our representative offices to promote Turkey as a healthcare destination. We arrange international conferences, global summits, and healthcare exhibitions to expand cooperation and partnership.
If Turkey follows its politics, the number of patients will grow.
However, it is necessary to understand that we don't sell hope. We sell treatment. We mostly serve patients who have good chances for recovery.
Such principles as the right diagnosis, the right hospital, and the right doctor may increase the number of patients and their recovery success rates.
For us, profit must be a second idea. First people, then money.
How much income can Turkey receive in 2023?
We want to increase an overall income to 30 billion dollars for healthcare tourism in Turkey in 2022-2025. Turkey's healthcare system gives a big percentage to the economy.
What patient geography do you consider the potential to provide medical services in Turkey?
We regularly analyze the market and establish Turkey’s medical tourism development plan. In 2023, we will target the market in Africa. Many people are demanding cardiac- and cardiovascular surgeries. And they can get a solution in Turkey. We expect to receive 10 million potential patients from this region.
Turkey has restored the market after the total lockdowns very fast.
What countries can you consider Turkey's significant competitors?
I cannot determine any country as Turkey’s competitor. I consider Turkey #1 medical tourism destination in the world.
If we consider these 3 factors: price, treatment quality, and general services (translating, transfer, accommodation), there are no competitors to Turkey.
If we speak only about the quality, Canada, the USA, South Korea, and Japan are very strong, but prices are pretty high, so patients focus on something other than choosing them. Even paying for accommodation will hit your pocket: an average hotel in the USA will cost you at least $100, but a room in a Hilton in Turkey costs only $50.
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