Naver taps into digital healthcare with IT technologies, AI platforms – Korea Biomedical Review

Naver, the nation’s largest internet portal, is seeking to enter the digital healthcare market.
Industry officials said that its success would hinge on how the company could use its powerful IT technologies and AI platforms in the healthcare field.
Na Gun-ho, head of Naver’s Healthcare Research Institute, introduced the company’s blueprint for digital healthcare at the Seoul International Biomedical Conference on Thursday.
In digital healthcare, Naver focuses on four major areas – integration and mutual compatibility of medical data, full-cycle healthcare, digital therapeutics, and AI for physicians.
In particular, Naver showed much interest in integrating and managing medical data, including electronic medical records (EMR).
The company is expected to use its cloud business as a bridge to enter the digital healthcare market.
In June, Naver agreed with the Ministry of Health and Welfare to provide certification technology for My Health Records application. In August, local news reports said Naver was mulling an acquisition of ezCaretech, a cloud EMR technology provider.
Na said mutual medical data exchanges among all medical institutions, including primary institutions and all patients, will create a substantial synergy. “Numerous data will be moved from the management area to the treatment area in the future. In addition, there will be more active development of solutions that combine data with medical devices,” he said.
Thus, Naver will connect users on its platform with digital therapeutics-related content provided through smartphone apps and wearable devices.
“Using the concept of gamification, our staff suggested treating children who are addicted to games by making them addicted to other games,” Na said, adding that a related product has already obtained FDA approval.
Korean psychiatrists are continuing to propose creative ideas to treat gaming addiction, he went on to say.
“Naver also thinks what kind of service it can offer for these children and how to apply digital therapeutics contents to those in need,” he said.
Na also emphasized that digital healthcare providers should aggressively respond to the healthcare crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said the pandemic revealed how the entire world suffered from the shortage of medical manpower. Healthcare technology providers should not only help find new diagnostic and treatment methods but help relieve the shortage of healthcare professionals, he said.
Na also introduced an AI technology helping EMR with voice recognition. The technology recognizes the voices of medical staff to store EMR or automatically extracts partial conversations between doctors and patients to keep EMR.
Google’s DeepMind and Microsoft’s acquisition of Nuance showed that companies are working hard to deploy medical resources efficiently, Na pointed out. “As the number of physicians is limited, compared to the increasing healthcare demand, these technologies will help doctors to work as healthcare experts,” he said.
To help the medical community introduce digital healthcare actively, the government should provide institutional incentives, Na went on to say.
He also predicted that there would be a new drug development model in digital therapeutics that balanced between safety and cost, thanks to the development of Covid-19 mRNA vaccines.
The development process of Covid-19 vaccines provided a new viewpoint in clinical trials of new drugs, he said. “Digital therapeutics cannot skip these trials, but it is necessary to consider granting them limited reimbursement so that the developers can receive a quick compensation for the development cost,” he added.