Following the recent abolishment of visa requirements between Turkey and Syria, the southern province of Hatay has seen a remarkable increase in the number of patients from Syria, as well as from Lebanon, Iraq and Iran, who seek to benefit from better health services in Turkey. Private and public hospitals and clinics are getting an increase in the number of foreign patients. One private specializing in laser eye surgery is now getting 100 Syrian patients each month, in addition to patients from Lebanon, Iraq and Iran who cannot get such treatment at home.
Turkey is also attracting international private equity, as the country possesses all the positive traits for such investment – a young and growing population, a deep pool of managerial expertise, expanding trade links, an economy that is opening up, and fast developing capital markets. One sector attracting private equity is healthcare, and the buyers mostly want minority stakes and o leave the existing management in place.
In December, US private equity firm Carlyle Group took a 40% stake in healthcare group Medical Park and is looking to buy stakes in two other Turkish companies. Medical Park was established in 2005 with two existing hospitals based in Istanbul dating from the mid-1990s. Through the development of new hospital projects in leading cities in Western Turkey, and the acquisition of single hospitals based in North and East Anatolia, Medical Park now owns and operates 13 hospitals with 2000 beds. It is now the second largest healthcare services group in the country, but rapid expansion funded by loans, caught it out in the economic crash of 2009. Carlyle's equity investment will be used primarily to finance the hospital company's continued expansion and reduce debt. Can Delgag of Carlyle commented,” The Turkish healthcare services sector shows great promise as patient demand for services has been high and is expected to grow steadily."Walid Musallam of Carlyle added, "As the global financial crisis eases, we see increased investment opportunities in the MENA region in general and Turkey in particular. We will give all the necessary support to make Medical Park a successful regional player."
Universal Hospitals Group is another heavily indebted private Turkish hospital group looking for new private equity, and may sell its Ege Saglik hospital in Izmir, plus other Black Sea hospitals, to an un-named fund. Universal’s hospitals on the Black Sea coast attract many Russians. Universal is the largest healthcare services group in Turkey with 80 hospitals and clinics in Turkey. It has just opened its first overseas new 120-bed hospital in Albania’s capital city Tirana, as a way of targeting those Albanians unable or unwilling to go to Turkey for treatment. Plans include new hospitals in Sudan, Macedonia, Azerbaijan and Russia.
Turkey’s Ministry of Health oversees more than 1000 public hospitals throughout the country and there are also 375 private hospitals. The ministry has teamed up with JCI to transform Turkey’s health care system by developing its own set of standards to measure hospital quality. To that end, JCI helped the ministry develop a road map highlighting key areas of focus: hospital design, medication management, infection control, medical transport, patient safety and quality improvement, care continuum, and primary care. There are now 70 trained local surveyors ready to evaluate hospitals as it relates to patient safety. The ministry’s next goal is to develop primary health care standards. Turkey pursues its desire to have its own hospital accreditation system and has been tightening the rules on cosmetic surgery clinics.