S. Korea suggests deregulation study to allow partial telemedicine service

2020.05.14 15:55:24

S. Korea’s Vice Finance Minister Kim Yong-beom (center) speaks at a press briefing on May 14, 2020. [Photo by Yonhap]이미지 확대

S. Korea’s Vice Finance Minister Kim Yong-beom (center) speaks at a press briefing on May 14, 2020. [Photo by Yonhap]

South Korea may finally be moving to lift the barriers on telemedicine after years of stalling due to strong opposition from doctors through the event of COVID-19 outbreak after ruling party and senior government officials publicly made the calls.

“The finance ministry agrees with the opinions of the presidential office on the need of enabling remote healthcare system in the country,” said Kim Yong-beom, first vice finance minister on Thursday.

Kim’s remarks were made in a briefing at Seoul government complex after Kim Yeon-myung, senior presidential secretary for social affairs, told reporters on Wednesday that the government will analyze 170,000 cases of medical treatment that was provided over the phone amid coronavirus pandemic under infectious disease prevention law. The chief secretary said the government will study institutionalization of telemedicine.

Given the sensitivity of the issue as it is vehemently protested by doctors on concerns of abuse and health risk, officials from the government and ruling force maintained the deregulation will concern “non face-to-face” service not telemedicine treatment.

Kim noted that temporary measures introduced amid COVID-19 showed the need to introduce non-face-to-face healthcare. Active discussion, however, will be needed among lawmakers such as amending medical law to establish foundation.

Meanwhile, during the briefing, Kim also said it is highly likely that the Korean economy will continue to struggle from slowdown in exports for a while, given falling international oil prices and time difference in the lockdown impact of major countries.

“Exports are continuing to shrink after April,” Kim said. “Lockdowns in major countries, however, in May, are slowly being lifted, which can act positively to our exports.”

Kim also reiterated the government’s utmost efforts to bring job stabilization on top of the agenda and minimize job losses amid coronavirus pandemic and expand job safety net.

By Pulse

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