Istanbul-based Dentakay is a leader in the health tourism sector. Founded by Dr Gulay Akay, who has 16 years’ experience in dentistry, and her husband CEO Onur Akay, the clinic is the go-to destination for those seeking the perfect Hollywood smile. We chat to Onur about the booming UK market
When did you set up the business?
My wife has been a dentist for over 20 years. She had a small clinic but we set up the medical tourism part of the business around three and a half years ago.
What is your main market?
Our main market – 35 per cent – is from UK with the US at 25-30 per cent. Business is booming now – when we started we were seeing just five or six patients a month from the UK – now we are receiving almost 300.
Is this a result of the NHS crisis in the UK?
Yes, the NHS crisis is the main reason for the rise in UK patients – they cannot get appointments, there are long waiting times for appointments, it’s much cheaper in Turkey compared to the UK and also the high quality of service.
Do people combine a visit to your clinic with a holiday?
Actually, people started coming on vacation before medical tourism started. Now they come specially to have their treatments but during the treatment, they spend time shopping, sightseeing and enjoying Turkish cuisine. We also have clinics in the southern part of Turkey, where there are many places to visit, there are beaches and the sea, and many other activities to do alongside having their treatments.
Why have you been so successful?
The main reason is that we focus on high-quality treatments –` we have over 50 experienced doctors we work with. Secondly, we have huge laboratories that have been established a long time and we use top brands with quality materials to treat our patients. The most important thing is we have a customer care department.
What are the most popular treatments?
All the treatments in our clinics – orthodontics, root canals, crowns, implants – are popular, but international patients come mainly for implant surgery and a “Hollywood smile”.
What happens with the aftercare and any problems?
It’s important for us to follow up and reassure patients that if there are complications, we will offer a solution. Because, at the end of the day, people are coming to another country to have their treatment and want to feel safe. So, we communicate with them, offer them advice. We work with dentists around the world but if a problem can’t be fixed locally, then we will call them back and try to fix it. But the number of patients who face problems is very low – around two per cent – and half of those problems we can usually deal with over the phone as we have consultants working day and night.
Do you plan to open more clinics around the world?
We recently opened a clinic in Saudi Arabia so we can even combine medical tourism with religious tourism for those wanting to make a pilgrimage to Mecca. Saudi is a growing market – they are really opening up to the world. We are also planning to open a clinic in Budapest because so many UK patients are going there.
What about London?
We are opening an office here in London (in Grosvenor Gardens) but we may open a franchise clinic here. Our focus now is on franchises and developing partnerships so patients feel safe and secure in the knowledge that if they have a problem when they return home, they can go into a local branch of Dentakay and get it fixed.