[Letters] The telemedicine revolution

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[Letters] The telemedicine revolution

The government’s amendment of the medical law, which permits the use of information technology in telemedicine, is a revolution as most people will benefit.

Until now, people have experienced a lot of inconvenience in both time and expense because of repeated tests, prescriptions and medical certificates when they move from one hospital to another.

According to Health Insurance Review and Assessment Services statistics, hospital convalescence costs last year were 39.4 trillion won ($35.2 billion).

One of the ways to reduce this huge amount is the combination of IT with health care.

Through U-Healthcare, including telemedicine, people will save time and money.

But Korea’s late entry into U-Healthcare is somewhat shameful since Korea has regarded itself as a leader in the IT industry.

In advanced countries, including Japan, governments are already operating or investing in systems such as U-Healthcare.

With U-Healthcare relying on sensors in digital devices, such as cell phones or IPTV, people can have a checkup and receive medical advice wherever they are.

Korea is entering a period when people will be able to check their blood pressure, blood sugar and heart rate by simply wearing “health wear” and receive information about drugs by touching a cell phone to the electronic tags of medicine.

For instance, Korea Digital Media Industry Association last month demonstrated the use of IPTV in the diagnosis and prevention of dementia.

Participants, including members of the National Assembly, were impressed by the demonstration which involved Kim Sam-sun, 84-year-old woman, and Jo Mi-Jeong, a nurse from Gangseogu Community Health Center.

The association is trying to expand the program with the help of local governments to community health centers and senior community centers across the country.

Carrying forward a U-Healthcare business, Lee Joo-sik from SK Broadband said, “SK Group considers the U-Healthcare system with IPTV as a socially important activity so it plans to expand the system to underprivileged people.”

However, U-Healthcare, which deserves to be called a dream medical system, still has a lot of work ahead to succeed.

First, it requires the active participation and cooperation between medical and industrial circles.

Measures are also needed to deal with such problems as the protection of patients’ personal information, the standardization of medical equipment, and responsibility for medical malpractice.

Above all, the government’s determination to improve and achieve a health care policy in cooperation with medical associations is essential.

Legislation that would organize the U-Healthcare industry would help accelerate this important shift in medical care.

Kim Won-ho,

president of the Korea Digital Media Industry Association
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