What PH can learn from medical tourism abroad


Posted at Jun 07 2017 06:51 AM

A photo taken on July 12, 2013 shows doctors performing a liposuction procedure at the JK Medical Group plastic surgery hospital in Seoul. Skilled plastic surgeons in looks-obsessed South Korea are enjoying an unexpected boom as increasing numbers of foreigners seek aesthetic absolution in what is fast becoming the cosmetic procedure capital of the world. Ed Jones, AFP

MANILA – For Abrianna Kim, chief executive director of the Medical Tourism Association in Korea, the Philippines – specifically Quezon City – has a lot of potential when it comes to medical tourism.

Kim was one of the speakers on Tuesday’s QC Medical Tourism Stakeholders Summit, which was attended by government officials and other experts from the industry.

She noted the city’s “good hardware and software,” referring to its hospitals and other infrastructure, as well as skilled, English-speaking health workers.

“When I say hardware, it’s the hospitals, the facilities. They are really good,” she said referring to Quezon City, which is home to top hospitals such as St. Luke’s. “And as for the software, you guys already have it here. Very good tourism and people are speaking English really well. Your doctors and nurses speak good English.”

“In Korea, the hardware is really great, but the people can’t speak English, or they don’t speak English. That’s the hard part,” she added. “You have a lot of potential here in the Philippines. You just need to improve. That way, you will be winners.”

Quezon City, or the Philippines in general, has yet to become known as a medical tourism destination.

The city government hopes to change this by 2020 by collaborating with hospitals, clinics, medical spas, wellness and fitness centers, gyms, hotels, travel agencies, car rentals and even insurance companies for a one-stop directory for visitors as well as various packages.

An international medical tourism conference is being planned for 2018, with the event expected to be graced by experts across the globe.

When asked what the Philippines can learn from more established medical tourism destinations such as Korea, Japan and the United States, Kim stressed the importance of training and exchange programs and always being open to new ideas.

“I suggest having more workshops, education programs and training. Those who need to get certified should get certified,” she said.

She continued: “Also, observe what the others are doing. See how they are well-organized. Check out their facilities. Learn from others. Try exchange programs. Why don’t you guys have Korean doctors here? Why don’t you send your doctors to a good country, like Korea, Japan or USA?”

Kim also advised the Philippines to make the most out of its top tourism markets and come up with packages that cater specifically to them.

“Somebody told me that Koreans are the top visitors here in the Philippines. Why don’t you make a special program for Korean tourists?” she said.