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Oriental medicine practitioners hit record high in 2017
  • By Lee Min-ju
  • Published 2019.03.05 14:23
  • Updated 2019.03.05 14:23
  • comments 0

The number of Oriental medicine practitioners in the healthcare sector hit a record-breaking number of 24,560 in 2017, industry data showed. The revenue of the Oriental medicine industry surged to 9.42 trillion won ($8.36 billion), up 14.9 percent from 2015.

The Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine(KIOM)’s survey from October to November last year showed that the number of doctors practicing Oriental medicine in Korea went up to 24,560 in 2017, which was the highest figure in history.

The number of Oriental medicine practitioners steadily increased from 23,178 in 2015 to 24,560 in 2017. The number of Oriental medicine clinics also rose from 13,605 in 2015 to 14,155 in 2017. During the same period, the number of Oriental medicine hospitals went up from 260 to 312.

As the nation adds about 700 new Oriental medicine practitioners each year, the number of Oriental medicine doctors is expected to reach 30,000 in 2019, KIOM said.

With more doctors and workers in the related sector, the Oriental medicine industry’s total revenue jumped to 9.42 trillion won in 2017, jumping 1.22 trillion won, or 14.9 percent, from 2015.

The turnover of the Oriental medicine sector was mainly driven by Oriental medicine hospitals and clinics’ healthcare business.

The sales of the healthcare business climbed 825.3 billion won in 2017, or 17.4 percent from 2015, and the revenue of the manufacturing business also increased 12.5 percent, or 411.5 billion won, during the same period. However, the retail business of the Oriental medicine sector decreased by 13 billion won, or 7.8 percent.

The total number of Oriental medicine businesses remained almost the same at 29,479 in 2017, compared to 2015. In the healthcare business and manufacturing, the figure rose 4.3 percent and 2.3 percent, respectively. However, in the retail business, the number went down 6 percent.

Exports in the Oriental medicine sector shrank in 2017, compared to 2015. The Oriental medicine exports plummeted to 157.2 billion won in 2017 from 302 billion won in 2015.

By item, ginseng-containing foods plunged to 81.3 billion won in 2017 from 145.9 billion won in 2015. Other items such as drinks using Oriental herbs (30.5 billion won), food extracts and processed food (12.3 billion won), and Oriental medicine-based cosmetic products (6.9 billion won) suffered declines in exports in 2017, compared to 2015.

Manufacturing of Oriental medicine drugs and Oriental medical devices were the only sector that saw an increase in exports in 2017 compared to 2015.

The proportion of exporters among manufacturers of Oriental medicine also decreased to 1.3 percent in 2017 from 1.8 percent in 2015.

In the survey, about 22 percent of the manufacturers of Oriental medicine said they lacked professionals for exports and overseas business. Up to 13 percent said their size of business was too small and 12.4 percent said they suffered the problem of low brand recognition.

About 29 percent of the respondents said they needed “discovery of overseas sales targets” the most when it comes to the government’s support for the Oriental medicine sector’s exports and preparation for overseas market entries.

The request for “export financing and credit guarantees” came next with 27.6 percent, followed by “connections to local enterprises after gathering overseas market information.”

Oriental medicine hospitals have 30,000 outpatient visits on average

The number of annual outpatient visits per year recorded 21,982 at Oriental medicine hospitals in 2017, 7,966 at Oriental medicine clinics, and 1,242 at similar Oriental medicine businesses.

Out of the total revenue, insured income took up 57.4 percent, and non-insured, 42.6 percent.

In Oriental medicine hospitals, non-insured income accounted for 52.5 percent of the revenue and insured one, 47.5 percent.

A majority of 60 percent of healthcare businesses in the Oriental medicine sector said “excessive competition among hospitals and clinics” was the biggest hurdle in their business operation.

Among other problems were “difficulties in supplying Oriental herbs” (10.5 percent) and “the government’s inappropriate policy” (9.4 percent).


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