Kakao creates healthcare division to explore digital health solution biz overseas

2021.12.03 12:42:13 | 2021.12.03 13:48:30

[Photo provided by Kakao Corp.]이미지 확대

[Photo provided by Kakao Corp.]

Kakao Corp. has created a team for healthcare business and recruited a medical specialist to explore global business opportunities with South Korea’s accredited medical care service combined with IT prowess.

Korea’s leading platform operator Kakao announced Thursday it will launch a digital healthcare unit as a “company-in-company" on Dec. 6 under the helm of Hwang Hee, a pediatric neurology professor at Seoul National University Bundang Hospital. Hwang, who also serves as executive vice president at electronic health record company ezCaretech Co., is one of the 50 innovation leaders in digital healthcare selected by the U.S. Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society in 2019.

Kakao will offer healthcare solutions backed by its rich platform knowhow from businesses ranging from the country’s dominant chat app to mobile banking and taxi-hailing. The company will primarily target overseas markets with digital healthcare solutions, such as lifecycle-based health management planning, remote doctoring, and other medical service areas under strict regulations in Korea.

The digital healthcare unit will operate as an independent company within Kakao to seek rapid growth, said a Kakao official, adding that the company will beef up the team for business development and investment.

Kakao has well prepared for the digital healthcare business. It set up a medical data center jointly with Asan Medical Center in January 2019 and a digital healthcare center together with Yonsei University Health System four months later. The internet giant made an investment in customized vitamins and supplements service startup Monolabs in September 2020 and acquired a 20 percent stake in medical big data company Humanscape for 15 billion won ($12.7 million).

Its Venture investment unit Kakao Ventures has invested in various medical technology startups, from artificial intelligence-based diagnosis diagnostics provider Lunit to real-time brain imaging solution provider Obelab and dementia prevention app developer Emocog.

On Friday, Kakao shares rose 0.41 percent to trade at 123,000 won around noon in Seoul.

By Oh Dae-seok and Cho Jeehyun

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