Atty. Deniz Mina Küpana
Medical Tourism that rapidly becomes popular worldwide and within Turkey, has a potential both as an alternative tourism and for the healthcare sector. In brief, medical tourism concerns the individuals who travel to another country from their own, to recover their health.
Medical Tourism is growing and becoming popular, especially in Turkey, for last few years, and there are many reasons for this growth and popularity. To outline in a few titles, foreign individuals prefer Turkey for Medical Tourism, due to the following reasons;
When compared, healthcare services are more expensive abroad,
The country where the individual resides may not have the high technology and therefore the individual may not have professional healthcare services,
The intention to have a vacation as well,
Can be considered as the major reasons why foreign tourists prefer Turkey for Medical Tourism.
The study conducted by Turkish Medical Tourism Association reveals that there are 42 Healthcare Institutions of international standards in Turkey, which has been accredited by JCI. Public and private hospitals, hospitals within universities, especially those in Istanbul and Ankara provide high technology healthcare services and this makes our country a popular destination in Medical Tourism. The researches conducted indicate that especially tourists from Northern Europe and Scandinavia prefer Turkey for thermal tourism, and that Turkey is also preferred in the branches such as plastic surgery and hair transplantation, where the demand is gradually increasing.
Therefore, there emerged a necessity to establish minimum standards for the provision of healthcare services, within the scope of Medical Tourism. In this respect, the lawmakers published the “Regulation on International Medical Tourism and Tourist Health” in the Official Gazette Issue No. 30123 on July 13th, 2017, and determined the requirements to comply with in that type of Tourism, and the sanctions in the cases of failure to comply.
To review the significant points;
1. This regulation covers the individuals who travel to our country for medical tourism, and who need medical attention during the period they reside in our country as tourists, rather than those who are covered within Social Securities and General Health Insurance Law No. 5510 on 31.05.2006 or the international reciprocity conventions.
2. In order to serve in international medical tourism, the healthcare facilities and the intermediary firm must be certified for international medical tourism. Those without such certification will be banned by the Ministry.
3. In a healthcare facility that serves for international medical tourism, may provide healthcare services such as diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation as well as traditional and complementary medicine.
4. Such facilities may admit the tourists who applied without any intermediary firms. However, in the cases where there is a need for intermediary firms, it is required to conclude a protocol between the international medical tourism healthcare facility, which is certified by the Ministry and the intermediary firm. A copy of such protocols will be sent to General Directorate through the Directorate.
5. It is the responsibility of the international medical tourism healthcare facility to provide the international medical tourist with auxiliary services along with the healthcare services, from admission to discharge. International medical tourism healthcare facilities may conclude an agreement with intermediary firm, for the provision of such services, as well as with the other firms and organizations.
6. Individuals who are provided with healthcare services by international medical tourism healthcare facilities as per this regulation, should be registered in web-based system that is administered by the Ministry.
7. The personal data of those tourists who are registered by international medical tourism healthcare facilities are processed pursuant to the Law No. 6698 on the Protection of Personal Data on 24.03.2016, and transferred to health data system in accordance with the principles and procedures determined by the Ministry.
8. Both the international medical tourism healthcare facilities and international medical tourism intermediary firms are obliged to submit the information and documents to the Ministry.
As briefly explained above, the medical tourism is gradually growing and becoming an important market for Turkey. In order to set some certain standards in medical tourism, the lawmakers implemented a Regulation and allocated responsibilities for the healthcare facilities. This Regulation aims to contribute to the quality of the healthcare services and make Turkey more popular in medical tourism.
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