Health care sector in turmoil over telemedicine

Late last year, the Ministry of Health and Welfare released a final plan to start telemedicine in 2015. “Telemedicine” refers to the use of information technologies for the delivery of clinical care. Related ministries also announced a joint plan to allow hospitals to establish subsidiaries to engage in incidental businesses, mergers and acquisitions among medical institutions, and to lift the cap on the number of foreign patients.

The Korea Medical Association (KMA), a lobby group of physicians, said last week that it would finalize a walkout plan on Jan. 11, saying it would not “tolerate” the government’s plan to allow telemedicine and for-profit hospital subsidiaries.

A senior KMA member said Wednesday that the group would likely launch a nationwide walkout this month. But the group will decide later on whether to stage an all-out strike after observing the public sentiment, noting that the recent train workers’ walkout was not as welcomed by the public as past strikes. The KMA is one of the major groups of doctors who are concerned that the government’s recent plan could pave the way for the privatization of medical services and hurt their business.

For full article, see Korea Herald.

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