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August 16, 2018

Korea to build database for medical big data

PUBLISHED : February 09, 2018 - 17:13

UPDATED : February 09, 2018 - 17:13

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[THE INVESTOR] The South Korean government will consolidate medical data from hospitals across the country and establish a comprehensive database, as part of its goal to foster the country’s lucrative pharmaceutical and healthcare industries, officials said on Feb. 9.

Its extended vision is to create some 35,000 new jobs in the growing bio and healthcare sector and to pull up the nation’s global market share from the current 1.8 percent to 4 percent by 2022.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy on Feb. 9 held a conference with local bio & healthcare players at Wonju Medical Industry Techno Valley and announced the government’s short- and mid-term development strategies for the industry.

The event was attended by officials from Daewoong Pharm, Mediana Samsung Seoul Hospital, Korea Biotechnology Industry Organization and other local medical organizations.

As a pilot step, the ministry is to select six major hospitals within the first half of the year and collect genetic and biometric data of some 10 million people to create a bio database on bio information, according to officials.

The big data will be used for the research and development of new pharmaceuticals, to predict major diseases and to detect unusual symptoms in the medically vulnerable clusters.

For the sake of personal information protection, hospitals are to carry out an initial data analysis and hand over the statistic results only, officials explained.

“Our country retains a world-top level bio database, thanks to the vast digital medical system,” said Trade Minister Paik Un-gyu.

“Through further deregulations and a phased public fund program, we will help local pharmaceutical and medical device companies expand into the global market.”

Once the initial database settles in, the government will seek to extend its capacities through collaboration with various sectors, such as automobile, telecommunications, information technology, and cosmetics.

An example is a biosensor function to be installed in cars that may detect unusual health symptoms of the driver and contact 119 emergency call centers when necessary.

Also, a healthcare smart city pilot project is to kick off from 2020 to provide citizens with a comprehensive healthcare management service based upon personal health information, weather and environmental factors.

On Feb. 9’s announcement came as a follow-up action to the government’s recent gesture to expand its subsidies and system support for medical big data.

In the bio industry officials’ New Year conference last month, the ministry pledged to inject more money into new pharmaceutical R&D and to establish an innovative industrial ecosystem.

By Bae Hyun-jung/The Korea Herald (tellme@heraldcorp.com)

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