March 1, 2023
SEOUL – President Yoon Suk Yeol on Tuesday vowed to foster growth of the nation’s biohealth industry, aiming to establish it as a key contributor to the economy on par with the semiconductors industry. Urging lawmakers to pass the digital health care bill, he said he believes it will not only safeguard personal information but also enhance the industry’s competitiveness.
Noting that the global market size of the industry is nearly 2,600 trillion won ($1.96 trillion) and the growth potential is enormous, Yoon said at a meeting on Tuesday, “The government intends to provide full support to develop the biohealth industry into a key strategic industry.” The meeting was attended by Minister of Health and Welfare Cho Kyoo-hong, related officials, firms and academics.
Yoon vowed to actively promote the creation of a Korean version of the Boston bio cluster so that startups and young people can “challenge and lead the field.” Boston is the No. 1 biotech hub in the world, with a large concentration of the life science industry at over 120 companies.
The president also emphasized the utilization of data in the biohealth industry, urging lawmakers to pass a pending digital health care bill. “The government needs to improve and organize systems related to data so that the biohealth industry can gain competitiveness through data utilization,” he said.
The bill was proposed by Rep. Kang Ki-yoon of the ruling People Power Party last year to promote the use of health and medical data in the digital health care industry. The government believes that when the bill is passed, sensitive personal information can be pseudonymized and deidentified to protect privacy and increase competitiveness in the biohealth industry. However, it faces opposition from within the medical field on charges the bill represents only the interests of those companies that possess or develop related technologies.
During the meeting, Yoon was briefed on a strategy to create a new market for the biohealth industry by Health Minister Cho. The strategy includes the innovation of medical, health and care services by promoting a service called My Data.
My Data is a personal information management system for the finance and public sectors that users can use to manage their personal data. The government plans to expand the service into communication, transportation, health and medical care.
The government also plans to provide scattered personal health information in a standardized form to individuals and medical staff through medical My Data services. The project will begin operations from June and will activate a platform that connects and combines health care big data. The data will also be made available for research purposes.
Prior to the meeting, President Yoon toured and demonstrated artificial joint surgery robots, scoliosis braces and other robotic medical products and digital health care devices.