#3 South Korea Can Play in Global Digital Transformation in Healthcare

Transformation of healthcare is a hot topic as this major industry is on the move to revolutionize its conservative processes, to invent new products, and to adapt and improve infrastructure innovations already implemented in other industries. Globally, massive investments are made into custom solutions to meet the unique needs of healthcare providers and customers.

In the healthcare industry transformation, we are observing multiple trends that are shaping what healthcare will be like in the future. The objective of this article is not so much to tell what is happening, although we are going to mention that to make sure we are on the same page.

Drivers and trends. Digital Transformation enables changes along the end-to-end healthcare value chain, including the design and manufacturing of products, procurement logistics, and consumption by end-users. It aims at fundamentally changing how healthcare is produced and consumed.

Healthcare on-demand is the primary driver and disrupting force of this traditional industry. Why is it happening now? The aging population around the world cannot use the same healthcare model previous generations did – there are not enough hospitals, clinics, doctors, and financial resources to meet the needs of more humans living longer with fewer children to support them.

From the consumer standpoint, it will be AI-based diagnostic and treatment database (Virtual Doctor) enabled by image and voice recognition (Smart Interface), integrated with doctor/pharmacy (Fulfillment) to proactively assist in sickness and health protection, embodied by a robot-companion with a high EQ.

Enablers of the New Healthcare Model

To implement this vision, innovators enable remote care and monitoring using wearables, mobile-based solutions deployed to predict future events that utilize big data analytics, and AI crunching massive amounts of data ever more effectively.

To satisfy the demand for new solutions, hundreds of startups and large companies invest in major and minor improvements to the value chain in their specialty areas, similar to honey bees working together for the success of their hive. At the micro-level, it can fall apart from chaotically pulling in different directions.

Nobody has designed or implemented the ultimate destination yet because it’s so complex and multi-layered – no one player knows everything. Market giants like CVSHealth, Walmart, GE Health, and Amazon, seek partners and reliable makers of elements and integrate them into branded end-to-end processes. Who will get there first? Will there be new entrants who can solve the end-to-end Digital Transformation?

Winning Game for Korean Makers

The annual U.S. spending in healthcare and long-term care combined amounts to almost $4 trillion, with an average outcome. The South Korean health system is #1 among developed countries and can share the experience of hectically searching for solutions to improve health outcomes with the U.S. We recommend that any successful Korean healthcare industry players should consider expansion into the U.S., with the help of an experienced local agency, due to market complexity and significant differences.

Also, South Korea is the leading nation by the number of robots used in manufacturing; our export primarily consists of high-tech and robotics (>60%). During the export slowdown phase, Korea should find new applications for its robotics before robotics know-how degrades. If businesses can’t sell robots, they won’t hire new workers, and if university grads cannot find jobs in robotics, this type of career will decrease in popularity and the hard-earned know-how of South Koreans will disintegrate.

Korean makers can find their place in the medical future by manufacturing hardware/robots powered by software from powerhouses like IBM Watson and Google AI, thereby forming a new type of global Digital Transformation force. Because in Digital Transformation, digital (hardware and software) comes first, so this collaboration can beat major players like CVSHealth and Walmart, who do not have the critical digital know-how – in fact, they are struggling with technical solutions while excelling in customer-facing apps and better store experience.