Mobile carriers here are accelerating the investment in healthcare industry, which is considered the next-generation growth engine.
KT, the nation's largest fixed-line operator, held the future forum at a Chinese restaurant in Gwanghwamun, Seoul, on August 25 to present the company’s healthcare business development direction and its smart fitness band “NeoFit” to be launched next month.
There are three large healthcare areas KT is focusing on – bioinformatics, which analyzes dielectric data using cloud platform, disease diagnosis solutions, which diagnose various diseases with mobile diagnosis devices like Yodak and My CheckUp, and customized personal healthcare services based on wearable devices. To this end, the company established a joint venture “Angel Bio” with Gencurix in October last year and developed cancer gene diagnosis and examination services. KT also entered into partnership with Korea University Guro Hospital and Seoul National University Hospital. In addition, KT and Yonsei University Health System provided mobile diagnosis solutions to Rwanda of Africa last month, while the company jointly developed beacon-based navigation solutions with Pusan National University Hospital.
NeoFit is a smart healthcare wrist band which can automatically check and analyze every movement of users around the clock and their workout rates by body part, allowing the device to gather massive datasets and offer customized healthcare services. KT said that the new smart band can also precisely track and monitor more than 100 physical activities of users so it will release fitness-specialized services and expand them to various sectors, such as outdoor activities and sports, with specialized service provider by sector.
In addition, SK Telecom, the nation's largest mobile carrier, also released ICT-based customized healthcare services and smart hospital solutions through “Health Connect,” a joint venture established with Seoul National University Hospital. LG U+ carried out healthcare businesses in cooperation with Boryung Pharmaceutical and Jaseng Hospital of Korean Medicine.
However, some say that there are still many limitations in Korea due to various regulations, such as medical care law and privacy law, and resistance in the healthcare industry which considers healthcare services the previous step of medical practice.
This is why mobile carriers turn their eyes to global markets. The most representative case would be SK Telecom. The company is focusing its healthcare service business on the Chinese market, rather than the domestic market, after it struggled due to controversy over personal medical data leakage in Health Connect in the past. SK Telecom bought a 49 percent stake in Chinese medical equipment maker Xian Tianlong Science and Technology in 2013 and founded a joint venture with Chinese medical corporation VISTA the same year. The company also opened SK Telecom Healthcare R&D Center and Shenzhen VISTA-SK Medical Center in Shenzhen, China, in 2014. This April, it also established ICT-based healthcare center in Wuxi, China. KT is also seeking to export mobile diagnosis solutions to African countries, including Rwanda, and Central Asian countries