The Difficulty of Being an International Patient

What are the main difficulties that a health tourist may face ? Let’s see it from the perspective of some experienced physicians…

Written by

Severcan M. Eralp

Prof. Türker Kılıç and Prof. Nejat Akalın both focus on language and underline that it requires experience for hospitals to take good care of this obstacle. Since almost 1/3 of Prof. Kılıç’s patients are international, his team is well-prepared to cope with language issues with a multilingual translator team and to adapt to cultural differences. Prof. Akalın states while using a translator, a physician always feels a bit insecure whether the information is correctly conveyed to the patient in full meaning but also adds: Our translators are becoming more and more professional and getting used to the diseases. So at least, they have quite a medical background in terms of a translator which helps us in this way.


Prof. Koray Topgül on the other hand doesn’t place too much emphasis on the language since the physical-patient relationship has more or less the same dynamics in any culture. He points out the psychological side since the international patient is away from his/her home, relatives, and friends and this creates an additional load other than the stress of the treatment itself. Especially when the length of stay is prolonged, this creates additional problems. “From my point of view, the medical side of the issue is more important. It is possible to overcome any complication or problem with experience.

Similar to Prof. Topgül, Prof. Birol Baytan highlights another “medical” issue. The main difficulty of having International patients according to him is receiving patients with incomplete treatment and who received late treatment. Since the reason for leaving the country and coming to Turkey is usually this, they have to face worsened cases generally that require more attention.

He mentions “diet” as a secondary but a minor problem. Although Turkish cuisine is very rich, when you receive patients from many different cultures to the same ward, it becomes an issue to satisfy all patients. Other than these two issues that only experienced hospitals are equipped to handle, there is no noteworthy difficulty he says. “The most interesting part of the story from my perspective is our clinic is like United Nations. We have patients from everywhere, every country. This brings color to our hospital”