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  • Need to Enhance Digital Healthcare Competitiveness to be Prepared for Market Expansion
    2020-09-15 hit 398

    Need to Enhance Digital Healthcare Competitiveness to be Prepared for Market Expansion

    -  KITA, global market demand has increased since the outbreak of COVID-19, need to pay attention to each country's policy support and growth of companies  - 

    -  Proposed industrial and trade strategies to improve competitiveness of the industry... Emphasized to minimize side effects by introducing telehealth step by step  -

     

    While the global digital healthcare market is rapidly growing, it has been argued that it is required to respond to the expansion of the global market by enhancing Korea's industrial competitiveness with new industrial and trade strategies.

     

    According to a report titled “Industrial and Trade Strategies to Boost Digital Healthcare” issued by the Institute for International Trade (Chairman: Choi Yong-min) of the Korea International Trade Association on September 16th, the demand for telehealth has significantly increased since the outbreak of COVID-19 and the global digital healthcare market is expected to grow at an annual average of 29.5 percent from 106.3 billion dollars in 2019 and reach 639.4 billion dollars by 2026.

     

    After the outbreak of COVID-19, major countries such as the United States and Japan are actively responding to the increased market demand and improving access to medical service while relaxing regulations such as extending the range of telehealth coverage, and the movement and growth of related companies are also speeding up. 'Teladoc health', a telehealth platform company in the United States, has become the world's largest telehealth company with a market value of 29 billion dollars (simple summation basis) through mergers and acquisitions. The number of new users of 'Ping An Good Doctor' skyrocketed 900 percent in January 2020, the beginning of the Corona 19 pandemic, from the previous month.

     

    Most countries in the world is still protecting the telehealth service market that spans across borders by means of not opening the medical-related service market, prohibiting data transfer, localizing data, and imposing tariffs on electronic transmission. However, in recent years, advanced countries are seeking to open the service market including telehealth by taking a comprehensive negotiation approach to open all fields that are not on the list of reservations in the free trade agreement (FTA) service negotiation. In addition, global market opening is widespread and new international trade rules that seek to freely transfer and use data including medical information are established through free trade pacts.

     

    The report suggested industrial strategies to improve domestic telehealth regulations and trade strategies to boost exports by stating, “In order to improve the export competitiveness of the telehealth industry and respond to market pressures from developed countries, industry and trade must be discussed together.”

     

    In order to improve the telehealth regulations, the report stated, “First, we need to establish relevant infrastructure such as technology and data standards, safety evaluation and education systems and alleviate side effects that may be concerned when introducing telehealth,” and added, “Based on this, industrial strategies to maximize the utility of medical consumers such as revitalization of telehealth between doctors and medical personnel, clarification of regulations on telehealth for foreign patients and remote monitoring between doctors and patients, establishment of the data integration base centered on medical consumers, introduction of negative regulation on DTC (direct to consumer) genetic test items, etc. should be promoted.”

     

    As for trade strategies to boost exports, the report proposed to expand the range of the Information Technology Agreement (ITA) coverage to provide tariff-free benefits to home and portable telemedicine devices, to discuss mutual openness of medical services that are digitally provided and data transfer guarantee as key agenda during FTA negotiations, and to preemptively reflect digital trade norms that are highly likely to be agreed in the e-commerce negotiations with the World Trade Organization (WTO) members in Korea's free trade agreement.

     

    Lee Jun-myung, a senior researcher at the Korea International Trade Association, said, “Telehealth should be introduced step by step to minimize side effects while maximizing the utility of medical consumers, and actively respond to the rapidly changing international trade environment,” and added, “It is essential to actively foster the digital healthcare field as future cash cow based on the increased global demand after the outbreak of coronavirus and Korea's outstanding medical technology.”

     


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