As Korea faces a rapidly aging population,
the country is looking for new ways to combine
technology and the healthcare
According to the World Health
Organization, the average life
expectancy in South Korea is
82.3. Pundits expect this number
to grow even higher in the future,
especially as the country’s latest IT technology
is fusing with healthcare and medical
industries. To further spur lively discussion
on this topic, KOTRA and the
Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy
(MOTIE) held the Global Bio & Medical
Plaza (GBMP) 2017 on the sidelines of
the 33rd Korea International Medical &
Hospital Equipment Show (KIMES) on
March 16-17 in Seoul, South Korea.
This year’s event, which first kicked off in 2008, was comprised of one-on-one business meetings, seminars and forums on the global healthcare industry. Over 200 foreign buyers from 59 countries and 280 Korean companies specializing in medical supplies and equipment attended the event.
“The medical industry is rapidly changing due to technological advancements, which is good news for Korea’s healthcare market,” said Kim Doo Young, KOTRA’s Executive Vice President for Strategic Marketing, during his opening remarks. “With the country soon to welcome the fourth industrial revolution, this convergence of ICT technology and healthcare will bring about new opportunities for innovation. That’s why events like GBMP are so significant.” As one of the world’s fastest growing industries, the medical device market is worth USD 337 billion, with
this number likely to hit USD 440 billion by 2020.
Korea, meanwhile, is home to the ninth
biggest medical device market, and its
export volume is estimated to be worth
USD 2.6 billion.
Against this backdrop, KOTRA invited several guest speakers in the medical and healthcare industry to GBMP, including Dr. Andrew Norden, Deputy Chief Health Officer at IBM Watson Health. Like Korea, IBM is ushering in a new era of technology, aspiring to improve lives and give hope by addressing the world’s most pressing health challenges through cognitive computing. Its cognitive computing platform has an advanced ability to analyze the meaning and context of data in clinical notes and reports, and has been taught to make diagnosis for patients based on medical images. IBM Watson Health is
taking its technology overseas as well, collaborating with a number of big hospitals in Asia. Many hospitals in Asia are currently using Watson for Oncology. “In Korea, Gil Medical Center and Pusan National University Hospital are informing patients about their conditions and possible treatments through our system,” said Norden. “We’re excited to work with more Korean companies and hospitals in the future.”
Along with information on the latest medical trends, GBMP provided seminars for Korean suppliers wishing to enter the overseas markets, including the National Health Service in England and the medical device market in Hungary. Furthermore, Dr. John Wagacha Burton, Senior Public
Health Officer of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, touched upon the agency's operations and collaboration opportunities in Kenya's medical field. One-on-one business meetings and MOU ceremonies were also held during the event, further expanding Korea’s medical network on a global scale. 29 contracts were signed between foreign buyers and Korean suppliers as a result, with export contracts and MOUs amounting to USD 11.3 million. KOTRA doesn’t plan on stopping with events like GBMP to spur the growth of Korea’s healthcare industry. According
to Kim Doo Young, the agency will dispatch a medical mission to Latin America, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and other regions to nurture promising healthcare industries and diversify export markets.
IBM Watson Health’s
Major Cooperation Projects in Korea