China and South Korea’s promise of an online lookup facility promises to help medical tourists choose reputable providers.
In a press briefing on March 19th 2015, The China Association of Plastics and Aesthetics (CAPA) announced the development of a searchable online platform that will provide the public with information on Korean plastic surgeons’ qualifications, together with statistical information about South Korean clinics.
The move comes in response to the increasing numbers of Chinese medical tourists travelling to South Korea. South Korea is famous for the skill of its plastic surgeons, as well the wide variety and relatively low cost of procedures. Overseas patients are taking advantage, with fifty six thousand Chinese patients traveling to South Korea for plastic surgery last year. The number of patients traveling from further afield is steadily climbing.
However, alongside the rapid growth of Korea’s plastic surgery industry, a slew of unregulated tourism agencies, substandard plastic surgery clinics and under qualified surgeons have thrived. Zhang Bin, President of the CAPA, told the press that while there are tens of thousands of plastic surgeons practising in Korea, only an estimated 1,500 are legally registered. This has sparked a rise in the number of cases where Chinese patients have entered into legal disputes with surgeons and clinics. These cases are often complex and difficult to bring about, particularly if the patient is from another country and doesn’t speak the Korean language.
Although these disputes are in the minority, South Korean authorities have recognized the importance of protecting the long-term growth of the plastic surgery industry. The introduction of strict regulations and greater access to background information will allow overseas patients in particular to make more informed decisions.
The Korean and Chinese plastic surgery platform is likely to be launched later this year, so patients will soon have access to information which will assist them in choosing a plastic surgery clinic in Korea.