Korean hospitals should enhance not only medical service but non-medical service, such as follow-up care, to attract more foreign patients, an expert said Thursday.
As patient experience and follow-up care play a pivotal role in bringing more patients from abroad, hospitals should discover various non-medical services to raise their international competitiveness, the expert said.
The comments came from Noh Ji-myeong, head of the Pusan National University Hospital (PNUH)’s International Health Center. She had a presentation on “Improvement cases of non-medical service to manage foreign patient experience” at the Hospital Innovation and Patient Experience Conference 2018 (HiPex 2018).
|Noh Ji-myeong, head of the Pusan National University Hospital (PNUH)’s International Health Center, speaks at the Hospital Innovation and Patient Experience Conference 2018 (HiPex 2018) in Ilsan, Gyeonggi Province, Thursday.|
“Governments and corporations have selected medical tourism as a high-value business. Competition among countries is intensifying over medical tourism, which is known to boost the job market,” Noh said. “Although Korean medicine is highly valued due to price competitiveness and advanced medical skills, it also has weaknesses because of the language barrier, low quality non-medical service, and poor follow-up care.”
Noh introduced a case of PNUH, which adopted “PNUH Follow-up Management System,” to reinforce both medical and non-medical service for foreign patients.
The system provides follow-up care for 10 years after the completion of a treatment, by receiving foreign patients’ consent to choose a consultation method between phone, mail, and video call.
The hospital also made videos to show how to move quickly from the main examination room and the parking lot to the International Health Center for foreigners in languages such as Russian, Chinese, and English. The hospital also made other videos to show routes to the electrocardiogram (ECG) room, the echocardiography room, and CT and MRI rooms.
The PNUH placed printed materials that guide movement routes across the hospital building. The materials have phone numbers for interpreters and coordinators.
The hospital made communication cards to ensure that there is no communication issue in any area, from admission to outpatient nursing to exams and administrative works, around the clock.
“We needed a tool to communicate with foreign patients 24 hours a day. We made the communication cards by collecting words frequently used in the hospital. We got 6.7 points out of 10 in satisfaction score, which is quite high,” Noh said.
Noh went on to say that she received opinions from foreign patients that the hospital needs to make communication cards into a mobile app and that the cards need to be provided in other languages such as Vietnamese, Chinese, and Nepali. “We’re are making changes to reflect those opinions,” she said.
To attract more foreign patients, it was essential to provide continuous and systematic follow-up care, Noh added.
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