KITA wants medical services to expand to China

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KITA wants medical services to expand to China

The Korean medical service industry will be looking to expand its exports next year to tackle the emerging market in China, as that country’s local medical market has recently grown with the government’s openness to new public and private medical services.

The Korea International Trade Association (KITA) said yesterday at a conference for its 68th anniversary that it will give plans and policy suggestions to the Trade Ministry by October on how to prepare Korean medical service companies to expand overseas.

In order to be effective in the Chinese market, the association said the medical industry should open clinics that offer treatments other than cosmetic surgery, which Korea is already known for. Instead, KITA suggested that companies specialize in skin care, children’s growth clinics and obesity-control clinics. The association said that China would be accepting of Korean services because of the quality, and because Korean clinics could offer treatment at a lower price than other countries.

At the conference at Coex Intercontinental Hotel in southern Seoul, Han Duck-Soo, chairman of KITA, said that creativity and innovation are central to expanding Korea’s medical services abroad.

“It is crucial for Korea to come up with new creative flagship items in both products and services, which would help us retain our competitiveness in trade, because exports are an efficient part of the economy in growth and job creation,” said Han.

KITA said it is planning to research the Chinese market and base its policies on Korean medical service providers already working in the market, and then come up with guidelines to help Korean clinics successfully work in the Chinese system.

“The medical systems in Korea and China are very different,” said Kim Jeong-deok, a researcher at KITA Research Institute. “A lot of Korean doctors already entered the market, but many failed to adjust, because the Chinese medical system emphasizes the industrial role of hospitals, which naturally have a sophisticated management system just like regular companies.”

Kim explained that KITA will help Korean hospitals with strategies, financing and marketing and will help them follow the Chinese government’s regulations.

According to a recent study by KITA, the number of private hospitals in China, which are mostly specialized clinics for beauty and other wellness services, increased 16 percent to 13,384 between 2008 and 2012, whereas state-run hospitals that deal with basic health care decreased 1.7 percent.

BY kim ji-yoon, lee seung-lee []

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