PEOPLE [Let’s Talk Jobs] A Day in the International Healthcare Center, the Helping Hand to International Patients 2024.05.08

At the Intersection of International Patients and Asan Medical Center


▲ (from the left) Professor Eunjeong Choi of the International Healthcare Center and Unit Manager Min Jee Hong of Asan Medical International



Determining Primary Care and Referring International Patients to Specialized Departments


18 years at the International Healthcare Center

Patients from various nationalities are steadily coming into the International Healthcare Center. Professor Eunjeong Choi, also known as Grace Choi, a specialist in family medicine, conducts primary consultations and refers cases requiring specialized treatment to other departments. Having worked at the International Healthcare Center for 18 years, Professor Choi also oversees overall coordination. She reviews all medical records, verifies local treatment details during pre-consultations, and requests additional information as necessary. There is a significant intermediate role in ensuring accurate prescription and seamless transitions to other departments' treatments.


"We are aligning our treatment here with the ongoing local treatment," Professor Choi explains. "A slight adjustment in medication should suffice." Professor Choi suggests optimal measures from the patient's perspective, resulting in reduced burdens of stay and costs for the patients. "Other hospitals just tell you to come, but Asan Medical Center is indeed different!"



▲ [Left] Professor Eunjeong Choi (first on the right) is examining a patient with lymphedema who has come from the United Arab Emirates.

▲ [Right] Unit Manager Min Jee Hong (in the middle) is reviewing major issues of outpatient patients with coordinators and nurses.



Operating a Hospital within Asan Medical Center for Foreigners


International Patient Support and Assistance

Remote consultation inquiries are steadily increasing. Within the International Healthcare Unit of Asan Medical International, inquiries are responded to considering time zone differences and languages, and medical records are organized and transferred to relevant departments. Unit Manager Min Jee Hong, also known as April Hong, often finds herself realizing the founding purpose of the hospital—to assist difficult neighbors—when confronted with the diverse backgrounds and often challenging local medical conditions of the patients. Therefore, the International Healthcare Center actively seeks to assist international patients with everything from scheduling appointments to room assignments, consultations, payments, and post-discharge outpatient arrangements. Each time patients express gratitude for receiving excellent treatment in Korea and safely returning to their daily lives, it serves as a new source of motivation.



Aiming to integrate the uniqueness of international patient care with the strengths of Asan Medical Center


Insights from Experience

There was an instance where an Indian government official on a business trip to Korea had a traffic accident and was transferred to Asan Medical Center. It was a critical situation where limb amputation was being considered. Professor Choi kept a close eye on the news of the international patient's admission. However, despite treatment, the patient's recovery and test indicators did not show improvement. Reflecting on past experiences, where adjusting treatments according to the patient's culture, religion, and dietary habits often led to dramatic therapeutic effects, Professor Choi decided to visit the patient personally. There, she discovered that the Hindu patient, due to communication issues, had been following a vegetarian diet excluding not only beef but also chicken and pork. After modifying the diet, the patient's condition noticeably improved, ultimately enabling the patient to walk out of the hospital.


Recently, a patient from the Middle East underwent colon cancer surgery and received subsequent cancer treatment. In consideration of the side effects of cancer treatment, a rehabilitation program was coordinated with the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, and tumor prediction tests were conducted to evaluate the necessity of further treatment. Both the patient and Professor Choi were impressed by the collaborative system of Asan Medical Center. Reflecting on these experiences, Professor Choi suggests the possibility of establishing a program tailored for high-risk international pregnant women, contemplating the role the International Healthcare Center can play in providing specialized treatments spanning from obstetrics to neonatology.



▲ [Left] Professor Eunjeong Choi (on the left) and Unit Manager Min Jee Hong are reviewing test results sent by international patients.

▲ [Right] Unit Manager Min Jee Hong (first on the left) is explaining the treatment procedure to a patient from Kazakhstan.



Pride in Demonstrating the Excellence of Asan Medical Center through Premier Service and Medicine


Our Patients from Around the World

The parents of a child with epilepsy expressed their gratitude through a virtual message. Despite being overseas, they completed pediatric neurology consultations while adjusting medications based on locally conducted tests. With remote consultations now enabling previously unimaginable medical services such as neurology and dermatology, Professor Choi finds numerous rewarding moments in her work. As the International Healthcare Center continues to receive patients from diverse backgrounds with various illnesses, Asan Medical Center expands its scope to include high-complexity critical care treatments sought by international patients.


Unit Manager Hong also recently had a meaningful experience. A severely ill patient from Vietnam arrived to receive a bone marrow transplant but unfortunately passed away before treatment could commence. Since then, the International Healthcare Center has been inundated with inquiries regarding immigration procedures from embassies and airports. The following day, as the family departed safely on the airplane, they expressed gratitude for the continuous support they received and the assistance provided in navigating complex procedures. Although the desired outcome was not achieved, the provision of the best possible assistance and comfort to the patient's family remains paramount.


With each passing day, the International Healthcare Center navigates through various administrative procedures and insurance services from different countries while swiftly conducting medical treatments. This ongoing process reinforces the belief that patients who experience the services of Asan Medical Center will spread the word globally.