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Medical industry earned $761 million from 364,000 foreign patients last yearPatient number rises 23% from 2015; revenue climbs 29%
  • By Marian Chu
  • Published 2017.04.27 17:27
  • Updated 2017.04.27 17:27
  • comments 0

Korea’s medical industry attracted about 364,000 foreign patients and took in 860.6 billion won ($761.5 million) in revenue last year, the Ministry of Health and Welfare said Thursday.

The number of foreign patients who visited Korea in 2016 marked a 23-percent increase from the previous year, pushing up the accumulated total since 2009 to 1.56 million, the ministry said.

The 2016 annual revenue also showed an increase rate of 29 percent from 2015, bringing the eight-year total to 3.08 trillion won.

Source: Ministry of Health and Welfare

A ministry official characterized 2016 as the year of “diversification” and “qualitative growth,” citing the influx of foreign patients from various countries and those who visited different departments.

China, U.S., Japan, Russia, and Kazakhstan were the top five countries in the nationalities of patients treated in Korea last year. Statistics also indicated many international patients came from Southeast Asia and the Middle East.

Chinese patients mainly visited the departments of cosmetic surgery, internal medicine, dermatology, physical examinations, and orthopedics, recording a 29 percent increase from 2015 to 127,000 patients last year. Their visits to cosmetic surgeons decreased from 23.8 to 20 percent of the total, however. A relatively larger share of the Chinese students instead visited departments of obstetrics and gynecology and orthopedics, statistics show.

Japanese patients also increased in number thanks to the stronger yen and growth in the number of tourists to 207,000, up 41 percent from 2015. Those who visited dermatologists accounted for the largest share of Japanese patients, with 44.

Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan sent 105,000 and 4,000 patients, respectively, recording increases of 19 percent and 56 percent. Vietnamese patients grew 64 percent to 8,700, with large portions of them visiting the departments of internal medicine and OB-GYN. Thailand also sent 72 percent more patients to a total of 4,000, with the largest share visiting plastic surgeons.

Overall, the department of internal medicine was by far the most popular, taking up 20 percent of all foreign visitors, followed by cosmetic surgery and dermatology with 11 percent each.

The international patients spent an average of 2.36 million won, up 5.0 percent from 2015. By nationality, those from the United Arab Emirates spent most with the average per person cost of 11.94 million won, followed by Thailand (5.24 million won), Kazakhstan (4.17 million won) and Indonesia (3.98 million won).

By hospitals’ location, 59 percent of foreign patients visited medical institutions in Seoul, but an increasing number of them attended clinics outside of Seoul, with North Gyeongsang Province, Daegu and Jeju Province recording increase rates of 88 percent, 63 percent, and 46 percent, respectively, in the number of foreign patients.

The ministry has taken steps to improve the safety and interests of foreign patients by introducing systems to report illegal brokers, making the institutions specializing in attracting foreign patients sign up for liability insurance, and notifying these institutions of commission fee caps.

“The treatment of foreign patients is a high value-added industry, which also leads to profit generation in related industries such as air transport, lodging, shopping, and tourism,” the ministry official said. “This year we will also evaluate and appoint top-performing hospitals to enhance patients’ safety, and promote various aspects of attracting foreign patients the occasion of international events such as the Winter Olympics.”

Source: Ministry of Health and Welfare

yjc@docdocdoc.co.kr

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