APAC Series Ep. 4: What is Fueling Hesitancy Towards Telemedicine in South Korea? (Mira Kang)
In South Korea, life expectancy at birth was 82.7 years in 2017, higher than the OECD average of 80.8. At the moment, Korea has one of the youngest populations among OECD countries, with only 13.8% aged 65 or over. This is expected to increase considerably in the next decades. At HIMSS 2023 in Chicago Mira Kang Vice Chief Medical Information Officer at the Samsung Medical Center in South Korea explained why a country that is an IT powerhouse and has fast-speed internet is widely available, isn’t embracing telemedicine. Koreans access a lot of services through their mobile phones, and hospitals are introducing AI, robots and data-driven precision medicine.
The health security system in Korea has two components: mandatory social health insurance, which provides healthcare coverage to all citizens, and is funded through contributions from those who are insured and government subsidies. The second part is the medical aid program, which is a form of public assistance that uses government subsidies to provide low-income groups with healthcare services. While the rest of the world is increasingly looking at virtual care and telemedicine for healthcare sustainability and ease of access to healthcare services, telemedicine will likely be forbidden again soon since the pandemic has ended.