Digital health care for seniors blue ocean in S. Korea: report

With the emerging digital health care market sparked by the coronavirus pandemic, demand for digital health care services for seniors is continuing to grow in South Korea, a report showed Tuesday(12 Jul).

According to Samjong KPMG, a Seoul-based consulting firm, the digital literacy level of the elderly here has surged by 4.8 percentage points to 69.1 percent last year, compared to 2019.

The report said seniors are emerging as key customer base for digital health care, noting that one out of three Koreans will be categorized as elderly by 2040.

In particular, the medical service industry, using artificial intelligence, big data and smart devices for chronic disease, is expected to expand. Eight out of 10 elderly people suffer from long-term illness and 55 percent of them have more than two chronic health conditions, the report showed.

Following the digital transformation of the medical industry, it will be possible to monitor disease symptoms and to give timely medical treatments, it added.

The report stressed that it is important for digital health care companies to join hands with medical institutions. Based on this partnership, companies can work on quality research and development and provide smart devices to hospital patients with chronic illnesses.

Acquiring health care startups and expanding business is another strategy to increase the profitability of smart medical devices and service companies. For instance, Livongo, a medical app operator for diabetic patients in the US, took over weight tracker app Retrofit in 2018 and mental health care startup myStrength in 2019. The company was acquired in 2020 by Teladoc Health, a US-based remote medical care company, in a move to boost its business to remote health care.

“Senior towns in Korea are on their way to growing fast like the ones in Japan in five years. Large corporations and hospitals are already working in partnership with residential areas for the elderly here. (Health care companies) should also consider senior towns as new platforms to provide health care services with innovative technology,” said Park Kyung-su, director at Samjong KPMG.



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