Most Koreans want to continue using telemedicine in the future: survey

Most South Koreans are willing to use telemedicine again in the future, especially those living in rural towns and cities, according to a survey report commissioned by the Korea Health Industry Development Institute, an institution affiliated with the Ministry of Health and Welfare.

RECOMMENDATIONS

The said survey was conducted online by Hankook Research in September and involved around 1,700 respondents aged 19 and over. It sought to assess respondents’ knowledge about telemedicine services, their preferred medium, reason and intention, satisfaction, as well as their level of competence in digital health.

In terms of awareness, eight in 10 respondents said they were aware that telemedicine was temporarily allowed in the country, although around the same number of respondents said they had not received any promotion or education about it.

Over 70% said they had a voice or video phone consultation; about 88% said they received online advice and treatment within five minutes.

When asked why they chose telemedicine, more than a third said it is for convenience and due to COVID-19 isolation protocols.

It is also worth noting that 13% of respondents had difficulty explaining their symptoms during teleconsultations, particularly those with chronic illnesses.

Overall, six in 10 respondents were satisfied with their experience, and 88% said they are open to using telemedicine in the future. The survey revealed that people living in rural towns and villages with less access to healthcare are more willing to try telemedicine again than people living in major cities.

In future use, respondents said they would like to see the inclusion of at-home or portable health monitoring devices, the use of real-time medical information, and access to online booking and pickup.

Regarding their level of competence in digital health, it is found that many are able to search for health information and use it to practice a healthy lifestyle, while there is low competence in the use of health information for the management of diseases and health.

The survey also found that female participants have a greater ability to search for health information than men, although the latter showed greater ability to assess the reliability of available health information and use health management tools.

Those who were highly proficient in digital health felt more confident explaining their symptoms through voice or video consultations. They also tend to use other hospital services such as access to health information, online booking and payment.

BECAUSE IT IS IMPORTANT

According to KHIDI, the survey results indicate the need for supportive government policies to strengthen the digital health capabilities of patients as the broader South Korean healthcare system pursues digital transformation. Samsung Medical Center, for example, has been leading the pack in digital transformation, having demonstrated its superiority in EMR technology and infrastructure after obtaining validations for HIMSS Digital Maturity models.

THE BIGGEST TREND

A recently commissioned global study by Zoom seems to suggest a different future for healthcare: Most telemedicine users during the pandemic are now preferring a hybrid mode of care post-COVID-19.

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