The Turkish American Chamber of Commerce and Industry Midwest (TACCI-Midwest) held a Medical Tourism Conference, sponsored by Turkish Airlines Inc., aimed at promoting Turkey's role in providing health care for patients coming from the United States. The conference included speeches, presentations as well as special performances by Masters of Kanun and Classical Kemenche, that were used as medical therapies incorporating Turkish classical music. Among the 200 in attendance at the Union League Club of Chicago were Karen Timmons, President and CEO of Joint Commission International (JCI), Renee Marie Stephano, Founder and Editor of Medical Tourism Magazine, Dr. Joel Shalowitz, Director of Health Industry Management at the Kellogg School of Management, Illinois State Representative Bob Biggins and executives from Turkish Accredited Hospitals.
The goal of the conference was to highlight the role that Turkey can play in the emerging medical tourism market. As a stable democracy in a strategically important location, the country is capable of offering patients a convenient option for quality, affordable health care. Congressman Robert Wexler expressed his thoughts in a letter to attendees by noting that he is "a strong supporter of close Turkish-US relations and believes that enhanced cultural and economic ties are both desirable and necessary for reinforcing the two nation's long standing strategic relations." Turkish Consular General, U. Kenan Ipek, expanded on these thoughts by announcing to attendees that "President Obama's recent visit to Turkey emphasizes strategic importance of mutual ties between both countries hope to further strengthen through a variety of efforts, including medical partnerships." Medical tourism spending, which is currently estimated at $60 billion is expected to grow exponentially in coming years. Turkey has a 2% share of the current market and plans to expand its share to 10% in coming years. Various speakers at the conference noted that medical services in Turkey can be performed by quality providers at 10% of the cost of U.S. medical services. This cost advantage is comparable to that of India, a country that already accounts for 14% of the global medical tourism market.