Bucking a global trend for increased focus on outpatient and preventative care, Turkey is doubling down on hospital investment.
Throughout many of the healthcare systems in North America and Europe, there is an increasing emphasis on outpatient and preventative care. In terms of health economics, governments see a great benefit in this approach, as by increasing outpatient services, patients are prevented from contracting diseases/conditions that require expensive hospital visits. The healthcare business has adjusted accordingly – in the United States, for instance, revenues from inpatient services compared to outpatient services have fallen by ten percent, according to the 2018 Deloitte Global Healthcare Outlook. Certainly, global investments and business strategies are headed towards a path of outpatient care; that is, except for in Turkey, where business and government are distinctly going all in on its hospital sector.
Previously, the main concern in the Turkish healthcare sector was the limited availability of quality healthcare services for most of the population. The consolidation scheme worked, as coverage has since greatly expanded
Within the past decade, the Turkish hospital sector has undergone a significant transformation, largely as a part of the Health Transformation Plan. “In 2012, the Turkish government introduced union-based hospital management,” describes Mahmut Oğuzcan, country business leader for 3M Turkey. “Under this concept, cities fell under the purview of one union (or several, if the city was very populous) that oversaw the procurement, supply and financial management of all of the public hospital facilities in the district. The main objective of this union-based scheme was to increase access to healthcare. Previously, the main concern in the Turkish healthcare sector was the limited availability of quality healthcare services for most of the population. The consolidation scheme worked, as coverage has since greatly expanded.”
However, even after the investment into the consolidation of healthcare centres throughout the country, the emphasis on bolstering the hospital sector has continued. In 2014, the Turkish government announced the construction of 29 “City Hospitals,” billion-dollar state-of-the-art facilities that have employed a private-public partnership (PPP) model of financing, eight of which have already opened their doors.
Turkey’s City Hospitals, aside from going against the grain of the global outpatient focus, are notable for the way in which they have incorporated public and private institutions. Some of the world’s most prominent medical devices companies have played an instrumental role in their development.
“GE has been very involved,” explains GE Healthcare General Manager Yelda Ulu Colin. “We provided more than 90 percent of the medical equipment for Mersin, Turkey’s first successful PPP hospital. We have a huge portfolio (from imaging to life sciences and operations), and we supplied them with nearly every type of medical equipment that was needed. We are also equipping Bilkent hospital, the largest PPP hospital in all of Europe. It is a key achievement for us at GE, and Mr Kieran Murphey, our global CEO, has visited the campus many times.”
“We are also perhaps the only technology company that invested independent capital in the PPP projects – we have invested USD 1.3 billion in the Izmir and Kocaeli projects, demonstrating our commitment to Turkey,” continues Colin. “Furthermore, with our GE Solutions and Partners department, we have provided consultancy, planning and customer support at the administrative level to the city hospital construction projects in Turkey.”
The PPP model does not only blend public and private entities during the construction and outfitting of the City Hospitals, though – it has fostered a continuing partnership between industry and the social healthcare system in the everyday provision of care. “We have been working with the government on the City Hospital project since the very beginning – we consulted them in making these projects feasible and effective,” says Şevket On, managing director of Siemens Healthineers Turkey. “We are currently finalizing a deal with Bilkent and Marsin hospitals that will make us their official laboratory operators for five years, which will further strengthen our relationship with the public healthcare system.”
Turkish industry, government and society is pleased with the City Hospitals project. “The scheme that the government has come up with is good for business and great for the Turkish people – as a Turkish citizen myself, I know that my family and I will soon have access to the best medical technology on the market in every corner of the country,” notes Yelda Colin. “I am proud of this project, and our staff is proud of the work that they are doing in helping Turkey become a healthier country.”
At a total cost of EUR 600 million, the hospital in Gaziantep will be significant in both size and patient-reach, but critically in its location, as it is situated next to the Syrian border
The City Hospitals project has been embraced by international actors, too, looking to both profit from the high-tech centres and maximize social welfare. “At a total cost of EUR 600 million, the hospital in Gaziantep will be significant in both size and patient-reach, but critically in its location, as it is situated next to the Syrian border,” comments Massimo d’Eufemia, head representative of the European Investment Bank in Turkey. “Healthcare camps are built to improve the quality of health for Turkish citizens, but also Syrians who are often refugees in these areas, highlighting the EU’s support for people living in an inhumane environment on the border.”
Moving forward, it seems as if Turkey’s decision to invest heavily in its hospital sector will further payoff by attracting the world’s top medical technological products.
“Regarding next steps, I think that the PPP hospitals in Turkey are perfect candidates to implement GE’s Command Center,” professes Yelda Colin. “This is a service providing high technology IT and monitoring systems that keep track of a hospital’s key performance indicators. It helps administrators anticipate logistical overflows and prevent any bottlenecks. This is a necessity in the PPP hospitals, as they are quite large and must provide services within the terms of the concession agreement between stakeholders. The Command Center could help both the public and the private entities in this partnership.
All signs indicate that Turkey will press on with its commitment to building top-of-the-line hospitals, despite the global trend to focus heavily on outpatient services. Should it continue at this rate and with this level of enthusiasm from the private and public sphere, the country may prove itself an alternate model for healthcare development worldwide.