Emre Atceken is the co-founder of WeCure a medical facilitation company who specialises in cosmetic procedures, connecting patients with cutting-edge facilities, trusted world-class doctors, clinics and hospitals in the city of Antalya on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast.

Here she explains to us the concept behind Health Tourism and why it is on the rise.

Health Tourism rise

Tell us about the concept behind WeCure?

Emre Atceken : "It is our belief that everyone is entitled to high-quality medical care and treatment. Unfortunately, NHS care in the UK is too stretched and many patients endure long waiting times for what is sometimes mediocre care and the private Health sector, due to rising costs, is inaccessible for many people.

Our goal and mission are to provide affordable alternatives to everyone all around the UK."

How did you and the co-founders come up with the idea to start the company?

"The concept of WeCure was always in the back of our minds, but with the uncertainty around Brexit from late 2018, we decided to step forward."

Did you have to overcome many challenges during the start-up?

"Every startup, no matter how commoditised the product is, has many challenges and we are no exception to the rule. However, we have a great and committed team working in (almost) perfect harmony and even though we are scattered across multiple countries and time zones, we overcome every obstacle in a true entrepreneurial fashion."

Do you think there has been a dramatic rise in people undergoing cosmetic procedures?

"Some countries like the US, Brazil and South Korea remain responsible for almost half of all cosmetic surgeries worldwide. However, it’s obvious that cosmetic surgery is becoming more and more mainstream across many regions. In the UK, stats show that over 28,000 cosmetic procedures took place in 2018, a small increase of 0.1% from 2017.

While the number of cosmetic surgeries remains stable, non-surgical treatments are booming, not only in the UK but also all around the world."

Why do you think there has been a rise in health tourism?

"The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) reports that there’s been a 200% increase in non-surgical treatments like Botox and dermal fillers since 2000, and millennials are the biggest fans as they are more open to cosmetic procedures than any other generational group.

Most millennials believe that non-surgical procedures are now a daily part of their beauty routines. It’s expected that within five years, the non-surgical cosmetic market will be worth £3bn in the UK."

What are the advantages of health tourism?

"Here in the UK, our national healthcare system (NHS) is looked at in envy from people residing in countries such as the USA where healthcare can come at a substantial cost. Not only this, but more and more Brits are finding that despite it being essentially free healthcare, not all services are offered to everyone and it is primarily this factor that has led to a rise of what we call health tourism. Simply put, it refers to people who are going abroad to receive healthcare.

People Travel to all different kinds of countries for these reasons, however, today, we’re focusing on one country, Turkey."

"An industry official for the healthcare sector in Turkey put the estimated number of health tourists visiting the country in 2018 at nearly one million. In the last year, this has generated a revenue of roughly £1.18 billion. In fact, the industry has become so lucrative for the country financially that the country’s national airline, Turkish Airlines, will even offer you discounted ticket prices for flights to Turkey should you be travelling there for medical purposes. On top of this, there is a very high standard of aftercare in Turkey and usually includes transportation to and from the airport."

"A big contributing factor to the popularity of healthcare in Turkey is its abundance of geothermal springs known for their healing benefits.

In fact, it is the top choice across the whole of Europe when it comes to these pools and ranks in the top seven countries in the entire world. However, this isn’t the only reason, they also have a surprisingly high number of accredited hospitals and specialist physicians that specialise in areas such as: Ophthalmic, Plastic Surgery, Cardiology, Transplantation"

"There are more than 50 JCI accredited hospitals spread out across the country of whom satisfy the same standards required by the regulations in EU countries and here in the UK. Some of the most skilled hospitals have even created prestigious partnerships with countries such as the John Hopkins Institute and the Medical Centre of Harvard"

What differences and benefits can Turkey provide to Brits ?

"If you put the fact they have some of the best natural springs and highly skilled doctors, along with an affordable price tag, this is a recipe of success that has led to the surge of its popularity. Costs can be lower than relative prices over here from private healthcare providers. On top of having to pay an annual premium, for example, if you needed knee replacement surgery, it would cost £10,806 (AXA Healthcare), however, if you were to travel to Turkey you would be paying £3,960 for exactly the same procedure! That’s a substantial saving and that’s without even considering any checkup costs, additional tests or annual subscriptions."

"Another benefit for us Brits when it comes to healthcare in Turkey is that the waiting times are dramatically lower than over here.

It’s all too common for us to hear of someone we know having to wait in excess of six months for a crucial operation, whereas if you were going to Turkey you would find, on average, that it would be between two-four weeks. This is extremely important to people who want/need to get their operation out of the way sooner rather than later."

Would you like to expand to other countries?

"Yes, but we are a team of perfectionists. We have other markets such as Germany, Benelux and the USA in our scope, but, we also believe in sustainable growth and put our emphasis always on quality rather than revenue."