Digital healthcare companies should prove that their devices can improve the quality of patient care if they want their products to get national health insurance coverage, experts said.
The digital healthcare industry should also pursue a shift in people’s perception that using medical devices with digital technologies such as AI or metaverse could save the nation’s medical costs.
Officials in the digital healthcare sector expressed those opinions at AI World Congress 2022 on Thursday, organized by the Ministry of Science, ICT, and other stakeholders.
Bin Jun-gil, CEO of Neurophet, a developer of AI-based medical solutions to treat neurological diseases, said it was not enough to hear feedback from a doctor that the AI-backed solution was merely “helpful.”
“Companies should go further from shortening time for patient care and satisfying patients. If they complain why their product doesn’t get reimbursement, it is too much to ask,” Bin said.
Instead, digital health companies should focus on solving unsolved problems in clinical care or cutting medical costs dramatically, he added.
Chang Yoon-jung, a professor of family medicine at the National Cancer Center who led the NCC’s project for a metaverse platform, “Dr. Meta,” said digital health products, if reimbursed, should ensure the improvement of the general public’s health.
If companies insist on allowing reimbursement without dramatic benefits from their devices, it will inevitably increase the nation’s medical costs, she said.
“Digital healthcare technologies should demonstrate that they can improve the quality of healthcare and people’s health,” she added.
Another expert noted that digital healthcare technologies could reduce overall medical costs.
Kang Sang-woo, general manager of strategic marketing at Coreline Soft, a medical image software developer, introduced his experience of conducting a national lung cancer screening program jointly with the NCC.
“The cost of reducing the incidence of the disease through early screening is much less than the cost of treating the disease. A study showed that this could save up to 1.5 trillion won ($1.16 billion) annually,” he said.
Thus, the digital healthcare industry should be more aggressive in forming a plan that adopting digital healthcare technology would benefit the entire society, Kang emphasized.
He went on to say that the industry should accumulate data through early diagnosis shortly and make a system to prevent a disease or disease progression by predicting diseases with the accumulated data.
“They could provide health screening at no cost for people who have poor access to medical care or conduct a campaign to raise awareness that early diagnosis and health checkups should become normal to prevent a disease,” he added.