Paik Hospital making patients feel at home
img By Kim Tae-jong
BUSAN ― Inje University Haeundae Paik Hospital, based in this southeastern port city, is emerging as a leading player in medical tourism, propelled by its cutting edge medical technology, highly-skilled doctors and fascinating tour attractions.
However, the hospital’s president believes its competitiveness comes from its emphasis on custom-tailored medical services and care for patients.
“People from different countries have different needs, having various difficulties and conditions,”said Hwang Tae-gyu, president of the hospital, in an interview with The Korea Times. “So it’s important to provide them with customized services, and fully understand their cultural background and private needs.”
Medical tourism has been a buzzword in the medical industry on expectations that it will produce higher value-added business, but Hwang believes that medical services shouldn’t be just regarded as a money-making business.
“When you’re sick and taken care well, you’ll never forget about it. So, medical tourism is an important vehicle to help people develop the positive image of Korea. That will encourage people visit Korea again and again,” Hwang said.
His philosophy to provide patients with utmost care and services comes from his long experience as a doctor of pediatrics. His modest personality and attitude towards patients einspires medical crews and employees to offer quality customer service.
Hwang speaks highly of Busan’s potential, saying that Busan has many advantages to become a center for medical tourism.
“For the success of medical tourism, the best medical service should be provided, but at the same time, it is also crucial to combine it with various tourists' attractions such as restaurants, hotels, historical sites and shopping districts. Busan meets such requirements,” Hwang said.
For programs for medical tourism, Hwang said the government, travel agencies, hospitals and other related bodies need to take a cooperative stance.
Specialized in surgery
Busan has been popular among Japanese and Chinese tourists who want to have cosmetic surgery.
Hwang, however, said his aim is to specialize in taking care of surgery-required patients.
“We have a long history ― about 80 years ― of surgery. I think our hospital should focus more on operation-required patients and specialize in cancer treatments, using our latest technology and cutting-edge devices,” Hwang said.
The hospital is also gearing up to challenge the traditional image of hospitals, namely an uncomfortable atmosphere.
“We aimed to challenge the traditional image of hospitals, which is often associated with inconvenient facilities, lack of space, uncomfortable rooms, and so on. But our hospital now offers a nature-friendly environment that can help ease patients’pain and other inconveniencies,” Hwang said.
Some of the distinguishing features include the building’s nature-friendly design that allows more sunshine to patients and better ventilation. The building also houses a cultural space for exhibition and a permanent concert hall. Patients can also get easy access to an alkaline seaside hot spring water as all the 1,004 rooms are supplied with spring water.
Contribution to society
Upon the services for locals, the hospital also aims to offer specialized services for expatriates living in Busan and in nearby cities as they often encounter a language barrier when they get treatment.
To solve such problems, the hospital opened the International Health Care Center last November. The center is led by a team of medical professionals and translators fluent in foreign languages and they are doing their best to help non-Korean patients feel comfortable and at ease.
Composed of various medical specialists such as internal medicine, general surgery, pediatrics, obstetrics, gynecology and family medicine, the center is also expected to serve a main body to offer differentiated medical tourism.
When asked about the vision for the hospital, Hwang emphasized its obligation to make a contribution to society, which is easily illuminated by its devotion to the Trauma Center.
At the emergency care unit, medical professionals are permanently station 24-hours, to be ready to immediately and accurately diagnose and treat patients with serious conditions such as myocardial infarction and stroke.
“The center is not something that earns us a lot of money. It’s actually the opposite. No one has ever tried to set it up because it’s not cost-effective. But we decided to operate it because we believe it’s what our mission is, as our founder Paik Nak-hwan has always insisted,” Hang said.