[Photo provided by Hallym University Medical Center]
South Koreans residing abroad would be able to seek remote doctoring by medical staff back at home from as early as next month through regulatory exemption as remote patient-doctor treatment remains illegal in the country.
The Korean law prohibits patient-physician telemedicine for consultation and prescription, while early pilot programs face protests from some civic groups and individual practitioners in fear of losing patients to big-name hospitals.
The latest green light by a deregulation review committee under the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy had been requested by the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) to find synergy in the convergence of advanced IT technology and healthcare services. The project will be led by Inha University Hospital and LifeSemantics for two years.
LifeSemantics, which runs an online platform for telemedicine, aims to provide remote clinical services to patients through Seoul National University Bundang Hospital. Seoul St. Mary`s Hospital and Asan Medical Center.
Under the new system, overseas Korean patients can enter their symptoms in an app to receive a video consultation from doctors in Korea and have prescriptions for necessary medical intervention at local hospitals or pharmacies in their community. Kim Young-mo, president of Inha University Hospital, said Korean nationals in a foreign country will be able to receive prescriptions electronically around over-the-counter medicines in case of first-visit patients, and even prescription drugs in case of second-visit patients.
KCCI chairman Park Yong-man welcomed the decision, emphasizing that a regulatory sandbox is the only hope for enterprises in a situation where amending laws is not easy.
By Lee Byung-moon, Lim Hyung-joon and Minu Kim
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]