The local medical associations, including the Korean Hospital Association, the Association of Korean Medicine, the Korean Pharmaceutical Association, and the Korean Nurses Association, all together raised an objection to the South Korean government’s plan to introduce telemedicine.
The government is currently planning to introduce telemedicine on a limited scale through medical law revision so that it can be practiced in military bases, correctional facilities, deep-sea fishing vessels, and remote mountain and island areas.
The grounds for the medical associations’ objection include the possibility that patients would flock to major hospitals and the likelihood of more medical accidents. “In principle, every medical activity should be face-to-face, and telemedicine is not suitable for accurate diagnosis and treatment,” the associations said.
They also mentioned that limited telemedicine would lead to full telemedicine in the end. “We are well aware of the advantages of telemedicine, but a hurried introduction will have a negative impact on neighborhood hospitals and clinics, which are already suffering from a decline in the number of customers,” they added. Some of them remarked that the introduction of telemedicine will set the stage for a full-scale introduction of for-profit hospitals.
Biotech firms and pharmaceutical companies, however, are claiming that now is the right time to introduce telemedicine for development of the new industry. They note that the U.S., Japan and China have already introduced telemedicine.