A possible step forward in a global setback, for Korea’s healthcare

June 22, 2020

Whether you live in Korea or use a Korean healthcare app, you may know that telemedicine is banned there for reasons ranging from safety and privacy concerns, to discordance between its government and physicians. People in Korea have also generally always been able to access its doctors pretty easily, so they didn’t necessarily see a need for remote care.

A new reality and changing perspective

Though telemedicine hasn’t been able to garner social consensus, COVID-19 has—at least temporarily—changed that. The sudden surge of cases overwhelmed the health system, almost eliminating the availability of non-COVID care.

This development urged the Ministry of Health and Welfare of South Korea to temporarily allow doctors to remotely treat patients to prevent the spread of infection at hospitals. The country was also able to use telehealth tools to monitor the non-serious cases sent to community recovery centers (CRC) to free capacity for the serious cases at acute and tertiary hospitals.

Was the ministry’s allowance an opportunity for Korea to understand the usefulness of telehealth in delivering certain services, and its potential value to the medical industry?

Taking initiative to flatten the curve

South Korea has been commended for its rapid response to the pandemic. Combining public and private sector forces, it promptly enforced self-isolation and social distancing, and originated drive-through diagnostic testing while speedily delivering results. It also tightened border control and initiated contact mapping, which all showed the country’s innovation in flattening the curve of transmission. 

Countries all over the world soon followed suit, finding themselves taking similar actions and increasingly accepting telehealth—especially with voice and video chat—as a viable way to get care in the safety of their own homes.

The potential benefit of experience

Now with a greater understanding of how telehealth can support the healthcare industry in multiple ways, the government is currently amid discussions to allow it as a “new normal” following COVID-19. Already, the growing acceptance has drawn in-app messaging solutions enabling the service.

Korean patients can now use in-app messaging for healthcare platforms to enter their personal information and symptoms. They’ll then get a call back from their doctor to discuss their condition and next steps. Doctors are seeing how mobile technologies can help them more easily, conveniently, and effectively deliver care—without apprehension of privacy and safety issues.

To ensure that these communications are effective and safe, Sendbird solutions enable healthcare apps to incorporate fully secure and globally compliant messaging technology. In today’s world of COVID and possibly long thereafter, it can facilitate care and save resources, while improving the experience for patients and doctors in Korea and all over the world.

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