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‘We should handle personal medical data like Apple does’Chief of presidential panel calls for taking individual-led approach to build public consensus
  • By Park Gi-taek
  • Published 2019.11.12 11:43
  • Updated 2019.11.12 12:15
  • comments 0

As the integration of artificial intelligence and big data became a critical issue in the healthcare industry, Korea should handle personal medical data as Apple does, an expert said.

Chang Byung-gyu, the chairperson of the Presidential Committee on the Fourth Industrial Revolution (PCFIR), expressed his opinion through a keynote speech at an academic conference, hosted by the Korean Society of Medical Informatics (KOSMI) at Kyungpook National University in Daegu, Friday.

Chang Byung-gyu, the chairperson of the Presidential Committee on the Fourth Industrial Revolution (PCFIR), delivers his keynote speech during a conference by the Korean Society of Medical Informatics (KOSMI) at Kyungpook National University in Daegu, Friday.

Speaking on “the Fourth Industrial Revolution and Biohealth,” Chang said the use of personal data was crucial for the advancement of the healthcare industry. “The presidential committee thinks that Apple’s individual-led approach will be better than Finland’s centralized approach to building the public consensus,” Chang said.

According to Chang, the Finnish government collects personal data, including individual genetic information of the country’s entire population of 5.5 million. It allows the data use for research and industrial development purposes. The Korean presidential committee had initially wished to benchmark Finland’s model but gave up the plan due to strong public resistance.

Since Korean people had experienced a large-scale leakage of personal information in the past, they would have felt concerned and found it difficult to accept the committee’s plan, Chang explained.

“As the public felt this way, we thought it would be difficult to induce a social consensus and an agreement for legislation. It took seven to eight years for Finnish people to reach a consensus,” he went on to say.

What the presidential committee pursues was similar to what Apple did, Chang noted.

Apple chose to let medical institutions provide personal data for individuals, and made individuals have the ownership of the data and submit it to institutions like insurers when necessary, he said. In Korea, the “Apple’s way” will be better to build a consensus and open opportunities to use personal information, he added.

Chang also said that Koreans tend to have a misunderstanding of telemedicine and the use of personal data and distrust the government.

However, Korea has a national health insurance system, which allows a basis for big data use, and medical schools have outstanding students, which makes the future of Korean medicine bright, he noted.

“If the government actively responds to create a social consensus, the future of the healthcare industry will be bright,” Chang said.

Another expert called on the government to shift its policy on telemedicine.

Lee Young-sung, former National Evidence-based Healthcare Collaborating Agency (NECA), said the telemedicine policy should move from “core care” of treating diseases to “complementary care” for secondary management of patients who have been treated for diseases such as cancer or hypertension.

“Unlike in the U.S., where distance medical care is inevitable, telemedicine is less beneficial in Korea geographically and functionally. It’s not easy for the government to provide incentives for this,” Lee said. “Besides, primary hospitals worry their patients could be taken away to large hospitals if telemedicine is allowed. If we use telemedicine as a secondary option, we can reduce such concern.”

Chung Ho-young, president of KOSMI, said the medical community should look for the proper model for telemedicine.


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