UPDATE : Friday, June 5, 2020
‘Medical paradigm will completely change in 10 years’Expert predicts Korea could be first mover in digital healthcare area
  • By Lee Hye-seon
  • Published 2017.05.31 10:38
  • Updated 2017.05.31 17:08
  • comments 0

The currently consumptive medical system would turn itself into a sustainable one in as early as a decade, by making the most of IT and future medical technologies, an expert said Monday.

“In this era of digital healthcare, the present medical paradigm will change entirely within as early as 10 years,” said Baek Rong-min백롱민, vice president of Seoul National University Bundang Hospital분당서울대병원, during a seminar hosted by the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety at Seoul Millennium Hilton Hotel.

Amid the accelerating development of information-communication technology such as mobile network, application, Internet of Things (IoT), big data and cloud, people are paying close attention to healthcare services that use and integrate them, he added.

The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety held a seminar to commemorate the “10th Medical Equipment Day” at the Seoul Millennium Hotel Monday.

"Medical paradigm has been rapidly evolving from the existing post-treatment method to personalized precision healthcare system aimed to predict diseases,” Baek said. “Medicine has already become a data science and healthcare has been moving in a popular direction, in which all people participate by securing and analyzing refined and meaningful data, and using them for predicting diseases.”

Baek defined the existing medical paradigm as technological medicine, empirical diagnosis and treatment, disease classification by organ location, uniform treatment, and diagnosis and treatment after catching diseases. “That is changing to the understanding of disease mechanism, diagnosis and treatment based on such understanding, classification by molecular and biological causes, personalized treatment, evaluation and prevention of disease risk, and early diagnosis and treatment,” he said.

According to Professor Baek, Korea should improve public health levels and enhance healthcare efficiency to prepare for population aging and the surge of medical expenses, for which and data science is a prerequisite. “That explains why I think precision medicine using refined, meaningful data will develop further,” he said, adding the United States is supporting precision medicine with annual spending of 250 billion won ($220 million). The United Kingdom (110 billion won), China (700 billion won), France (170 billion won) and Japan (96 billion won) are also following the example of the U.S.

“As Korea’s medical system does not have a sustainable structure, the nation should make the medical field a growth engine and seek to establish a virtuous cycle system,” Prof. Baek said. “The government has set about to keep abreast with these advanced countries by making precision medicine as a national task. If a country makes perfect preparations, it can become a frontrunner in two to three years, or in as early as one or two years.”

He noted that the pharmaceutical industry was called “10-10-10” industry; if a company invests 10 trillion won in the research of new drugs for 10 years, it can redeem only 10 percent of that spending from new medicines. “However, big data and fourth industrial revolution will change this paradigm,” he said.

In the past, for example, drugmakers spent time and money to develop a medicine that can cure 80 percent of liver cancer patients, Baek noted. From now on the pharmaceutical companies, knowing the differences among individuals, will develop therapies geared for specific groups, which will save costs while producing more diverse kinds of drugs. The industry will change to a new paradigm which benefits all parties involved -- patients, doctors and drugmakers, he added.

Provided the government backs up the industry’s efforts with appropriate regulations, Korea can be a first mover in the digital healthcare area, Prof. Baek predicted. What’s needed to ensure the success of precision medicine are such things as securing enough data, building up open data platform, cost cuts for genomic analysis, consistent policy support, a proper level of regulations, and improving inspection accuracy.

“If only the government takes a right direction through appropriate regulations, Korea will have a chance to shift from a fast follower to a first mover,” Baek concluded.


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