[Doctor in Monitor, Credit to pixabay]
According to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, more than 3.52 million patients have experienced remote medical service as of January 2022. The Covid-19 pandemic has brought about a telemedicine boom in Korea as average daily cases have recorded more than 0.3 million while the accumulated number of Covid patients surpassed 10 million in March 2022.
Telemedicine is prohibited by the Medical Services Act in Korea, but the government has temporarily allowed it in 2020 in an attempt to prevent the further spread of Covid Patients who need routine checkups for chronic symptoms can now receive prescriptions without the need to physically visithospitals.
A man named Hong living in Gwacheon, Gyeonggi Province said he, his wife and child in elementary school were tested positive for Covid a week ago.
Initially he was worried that they cannot go to the hospital as they have to self-quarantine for a week, but thanks to telemedicine service provided through a smartphone application, he and his family were conveniently able to receive proper medical care delivered to their home.
Many companies are entering into the telemedicine market as more and more people seek to receive remote medical care.
Currently, there are around 20 applications that provide telemedicine services in Korea. These applications have become far more sophisticated; what was once only able to support simple functions such as making reservations or finding hospitals that open on weekends and holidays, can now provide complex telehealth services.
In other words, patients can now enjoy a one-stop service from diagnosis, medical consulting and prescription to delivery of medicine to their doorsteps.
Some well-known telemedicine platforms in Korea are Dr. Now, Goodoc and Dr. Call.
With the rise of the telemedicine industry, the idea that “healthcare is in the palm of your hands” has become a reality.
Teladoc Health, the largest telemedicine company in the United States decided on March 8 to team up with the technological and e-commerce giant, Amazon which has been expanding its telehealth business recently.
Teladoc and Amazon announced that they will launch a voice-activated virtual care on Alexa-supported Echo devices.
Those who need to consult with a doctor can just say, “Alexa, I want to talk to a doctor” to the Echo device. This function will allow customers to get medical help without the need to physically pick up their phones.
Once the request is delivered to Teladoc’s call center, patients will then receive a call back on their Echo device from contracted physicians. Those with minor symptoms such as cold, flu or allergies can go through simple care using the remote service.
Teladoc, which already has more than 70 million users , is projected to attract more customers by teaming up with Amazon.
As more and more people start to experience the new world of “virtual medical care”, the telemedicine market is expected to grow rapidly in Korea.
There are however, growing concerns over liability issues as there has been little talk on who should be held accountable for drug abuse, misdelivery of medicine and medical malpractices.
Dr. Jang of an internal medicine clinic in Icheon warned that telemedicine should not be approached from an industrial, user-beneficial perspective, as there is a higher probability of medical accidents than face-to-face patient care.
He added that excessive reliance on telemedicine may lead to increase in medical spending and drug abuse and those living in rural areas may lose access to medical facilities as hospitals and clinics find it hard to stay in business in the long term.
While there are certain benefits to telemedicine, experts express concerns to the idea.
Woodberry Forest School
SeokJun Kim email@example.com
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