Mobile Health Around the Globe: ICT-Powered HealthCare in Korea
With the diffusion of smartphones and growing demands for faster data services in Korea, Information and Communications Technology (ICT) convergence in various industries is expected to bring new business opportunities that can revitalize the Korean market. Korean ICT companies are focusing on developing various innovative solutions and services that can integrate life patterns of consumers through ICT.
With the diffusion of smartphones and growing demands for faster data services in Korea, Information and Communications Technology (ICT) convergence in various industries is expected to bring new business opportunities that can revitalize the Korean market. Korean ICT companies are focusing on developing various innovative solutions and services that can integrate life patterns of consumers through ICT. Especially, mobile operators are expected to play significant roles in maximizing strong network infrastructure and advanced ICT to accommodate rapidly changing trends and expand their business areas beyond telecommunications.
Health care is one of the sectors rapidly evolving with ICT convergence in Korea. As part of the ICT convergence movement, SK Telecom, Korea’s largest mobile operator, has been focusing on developing prevention and management-centered health care service as well as building ICT-powered hospitals through the establishment of Healthconnect in January 2012. Healthconnect was established as a joint venture with Seoul National University Hospital (SNUH), South Korea’s top medical center, and has become a pioneer of the mobile healthcare market with its solutions Health-On, Patient Guide, and Bedside Station.
Health-On (photo below) provides customized, convenient, and integrated health management service through tracking lifestyle patterns including calorie intake and exercise and consultation from health/nutrition/fitness professionals. Health-On focuses on the prevention of disease through proper diet and exercise, utilizing a smartphone application and activity tracker wristband to provide motivation through real-time information and alerts. Prior to commercialization on March 27, 2013, a 3-month trial run with SK Telecom employees showed positive results, as participants witnessed decreases in their BMI, weight, and body fat; expressed high satisfaction and motivation as a result of Health-On; and noted a significant increase in health awareness.
While Health-On allows for self-management of health, SK Telecom’s smart hospital solutions offer a wide range of services designed to bring enhanced convenience and benefits for those who do need to pay a visit to the hospital. The Patient Guide and Bedside Station are solutions that provide a smart hospital environment by offering personalized medical services for patients through mobile devices, for the first time in the world.
Supported by SK Telecom’s differentiated indoor positioning technology and 3D-mapping technology, Patient Guide (photo at right) is a solution that allows hospitals to provide a wide-range of guidance services for outpatients based on a full mobile/ICT system. The free Patient Guide application can be downloaded on patients’ smartphones and delivers personalized support during visits to the hospital. Also, Bedside Station (photo below) provides upgraded medical services and diverse useful features through a 15-inch smart device (tablet PC) that is connected to each hospital bed. Patients can view hospital’s general information (e.g. introduction, notice, event, etc); check personalized information including health records, treatment/examination schedule, and prescribed medication; request room cleaning/change and menu change; pay hospital bills; and enjoy entertainment services like TV and Internet.
Medical services are expected to gradually evolve to a more patient-friendly and personalized system, as ICT and mobile platforms offer customers and patients convenient access to medical care and health management. This convenience extends not only to the patients, but also to medical professionals, as better guidance provided for patients without additional manpower results in more efficient operation of hospitals. Moreover, SK Telecom has utilized its unique positioning as a leading ICT company to open up a new direction for business beyond the telecom sector. Innovative solutions and services based on ICT convergence have opened up new possibilities for all parties.
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