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Posted : 2013-03-26 16:45
Updated : 2013-03-26 16:45

Gangnam enhances care for foreign patients

Healthcare coordinators pose after receiving a letter of appointment from the Gangnam District Office in southern Seoul on March 21.
/ Courtesy of Gangnam District Office


By Chung Ah-young

The Gangnam District Office has appointed an additional 28 healthcare coordinators to help foreign patients who speak Russian, Spanish and Mongolian as part of its efforts to boost medical tourism.

"We are expanding our coordinator pool system to help small hospitals which have difficulty due to a lack of coordinators who can speak diverse languages and are equipped with medical knowledge," said Kang Hyun-seop, director of the health administration division of the Gangnam District Office.

The major duties for coordinators is interpreting between medical service providers and foreign patients, and arranging schedules.

First begun in 2009, the pool was designed to help foreign patients who speak such languages as English, Japanese, Chinese, Russian, Spanish, Mongolian, Vietnamese and Arabic.

The number of coordinators rose from 42 to 70 this year to cope with a growing number of foreign patients in the district.

"Many healthcare coordinators have medical backgrounds as well as language abilities. The medical facilities in the district can use our pool as they have limited resources to provide such services for their patients," Kang said.

The district is known as a hub of medical tourism as it houses 2,373 medical facilities, including the nation's top hospitals, particularly plastic surgery and dermatology clinics. Some 25 percent of the hospitals in the country registered as facilities for medical tourists are located in the Gangnam district.

According to the district office, a total of 32,900 tourists visited Gangnam to receive medical treatment last year and it aims to attract 40,000 patients this year. Among last year's medical tourists to the district, 24 percent came from the United States followed by China at 22 percent and Japan at 16 percent. Russian patients accounted for 9 percent, followed by Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Vietnam and Indonesia.

The district recently produced a promotional video on YouTube inspired by Psy's international viral hit, "Gangnam Style." The video, titled "Medical Gangnam Style," features staff at clinics and hospitals in the district and introduces the medical infrastructure and technologies along with tourist spots in the district. The video is in six languages ― Korean, English, Chinese, Japanese, Russian and Vietnamese.


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