A growing number of patients from foreign countries, including United Arab Emirates, China and Uzbekistan, are visiting Wooridul Hospital in Seoul, Korea, a top executive of the hospital said.
In an interview with Korea IT Times, Kim Ho-jin, director of Wooridul Hospital, said, “The number of foreign patients and operations at the hospital has increased by some 15~20 percent every year. Our hospital has been well publicized globally through word-of-mouth thanks to foreign patients who underwent spinal surgery here.
“Moreover, we support patients’ medical treatment at a hospital in Jakarta, Indonesia through teleconference. Sometimes, we supported the Indonesian hospital with software and attracted patients from the country.”
Asked about foreign patients visiting Wooridul Hospital, Director Kim said, “Many foreign patients visited our hospital along with their family members who were also treated here. In general, they are hospitalized here for two~four weeks, longer than domestic patients, because they have to return their home country by airplane after being treated completely.
Medtronics-approved Wooridul Hospital
Noting that Wooridul Hospital is the first Korean hospital approved by Medtronics, a world-renowned medical devices manufacturer, he said, “With the approval, Wooridul Hospital has become an institution to implement medical education on consignment globally. For instance, we often educate foreign doctors for various technologies and instructions in dealing with devices used for spine surgery among medical appliances produced by Medtronics.
“When foreign doctors visit our hospital, we support them with technology education necessary for using devices for spinal operation. It means that Wooridul Hospital has been highly recognized globally for its advanced technology related to spinal operation.”
Ministry of Health and Welfare-designated hospital
Commenting that Wooridul Hospital is the Ministry of Health and Welfare-designated hospital, Kim said, “Our hospital has been designated by the ministry in 2011 in recognition of its advanced surgical procedure, medical technology and medical team.
“We operate 10 Wooridul hospitals across the country. Patients can receive the same medical treatment and surgical procedure at any of the 10 hospitals. For example, we gather at 7:00 in the morning on every Friday for teleconference to share information on patients and engage in academic discussions.”
MISS(Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery)
Answering a question on minimally invasive spinal surgery, Kim said, “The advanced spinal surgical technique is bloodless and minimally invasive to save normal disc tissue. Short-term admission, small incision, minimal scars, and reduced complications are what we are doing for patients.
“We do not think surgery is always the best way to treat patients, so we consider the patient conditions first, and then provide step-by-step treatments for saving normal disc tissue and other adjacent structures.
“In the past, the scope of spinal surgery was wide, surgical time was long, and the amount of blood loss was big so that the result was not good and patients suffered from aftereffects. To tide over such difficulties, we developed minimally invasive spinal surgery technique.
“As far as I know, the operating technique was disseminated by Wooridul Hospital for the first time in Korea. Accordingly, a number of foreign doctors came to our hospital to learn about the advanced surgery technique.”
On the data released by the Health Insurance Review & Assessment Service, which showed that the number of surgery adjustment cases was the smallest for Wooridul Hospital, compared with other hospitals, Kim said, “The figure indicates that our doctors conducted surgery for patients who necessarily need operation. Through a mutual monitoring system and in-depth discussions among members of our medical team, we decided whether or not to carry out operation. As a result, we conduct imperatively necessary surgeries, while recommending patients who don’t need operation to receive other kinds of treatment. We are striving to avoid over-treatment and excess surgery.”
Asked about whether minimally invasive spinal surgery comes under insured benefit or uninsured benefit, Kim said, “Some parts fall under insured benefit but others do not. We hope that the government apply insured benefits to spinal surgery which is necessary for many young spinal patients, not to mention senior citizens as the number of young spinal patients is growing at a fast pace owing to smartphone and Internet.”
By Lee Jae-seung