Severance Hospital’s New Leap for Telemedicine with Infomining

In September 1894, missionaries from the U.S. Presbyterian Church, including Oliver R. Avison and Underwood, who ran Jejungwon (Gwanghyewon), brought Jejungwon’s right to operate from the government to the mission. Missionaries were now able to run hospitals autonomously, but government support was cut off instead.

There was a huge shortage of manpower and poor facilities. In response, Avison and Underwood traveled back and forth to the United States to get donations for the operation of the Jejungwon, and as a result in 1899, Louis Severance (1838-1913), one of the most famous businessmen in the United States, donated a large amount of subsidies to Jejungwon. Accordingly, Jejungwon completed a new hospital in front of Seoul Station on September 23, 1904, and named it Severance Hospital after its sponsor.

Severance Hospital was the first modern general hospital in Joseon. Severance Hospital could take the form of a modern general hospital because of the expansion through Severance’s donation. In addition, since the first medical education was conducted by Allen and Underwood in Jejungwon in 1886, apprenticeship medical education has been conducted in Jejungwon by Avison and others, and in 1899, university-style medical education began in earnest. In 1909, Jejungwon Medical Center was renamed Severance School, and the Japanese colonial days operated Severance Medical School. Meanwhile, a new university course was established in 1915 at the Kyungshin Academy established by Underwood, and the University of Korean Christianity (English Munmyeong) was established, and Underwood was the principal, and Severance Hospital director Evison was the vice principal. In 1917, the Japanese approved the school as a “Yeonhee College.”

Severance Hospital and Yeonhee College, where the core management was the same, have been aiming for integration since its establishment. However, the integration was slow because it was difficult to reach an agreement between various professors and directors. Meanwhile, with the establishment of Kyungsung Imperial University in 1924, the integration of Severance’ exhibition and performance specialists took a rapid rise, and a proposal for the integration of both schools came out in 1926. However, the integration failed due to Japanese interference.

After liberation, in 1946, the Severance Exhibition was Severance Medical School, and Yeonhee College became Yeonhee University, and integrated discussions between the two schools resumed. On the premise of the integration of both schools, freshmen from Severance Medical School completed the preliminary course at Yeonhee University from 1949. However, due to the outbreak of the Korean War, the integration of the two schools was stopped. After the ceasefire, the launch of the integrated Yonsei University was formalized in 1955, and the foundation was established in 1956, followed by the official opening of Yonsei University from the new semester on January 5, 1957. Severance Medical School has become a new Yonsei University medical school named after Yeon-hee and Severance.

Since then, construction has begun to expand and relocate the saturated Severance Hospital from a narrow site at Seoul Station to Sinchon, and in 1962, the new hospital and medical school building were completed and relocated. The Yonsei Foundation Severance Building was built in 1993 at the site of an old hospital in front of Seoul Station. The building itself is not a hospital, but a general office building or a health check-up center called Severance Check-up.

Hospital buildings are now divided into quite a large area by continuing to add wards and hospital buildings around the old main building (Jejunggwan), which was built in 1962.

Around 1990, new hospitals boasting state-of-the-art facilities such as Asan Hospital and Samsung Hospital were opened in Seoul, causing some changes in the positions of Seoul National University Hospital, Severance Hospital, and St. Mary’s Hospital, which were the big three in Seoul in the past. Outpatient treatment was still conducted around the main building built in 1962, but the problem of aging facilities and lack of space was serious, so a separate “Ophthalmology Hospital” building was built next to the main building in 1996.

Severance Hospital built a new main building to replace the old main building and completed it in 2005. Since then, old buildings have been sequentially demolished and new buildings have been built there.

Severance Hospital signed a contract in January 2022 to introduce artificial intelligence solution programs to 150 wards with Infomining’s Hatti Hearti Solution Health Watch Device (blood pressure/electrocardiogram/blood sugar/body temperature). Severance said it will gradually push for 2,000 wards and 1,500 wards newly built on Songdo, Incheon, following 150 wards. Now that non-face-to-face treatment and patient care around the world have become an inevitable reality, it is thought that this solution is used because the efficiency and accuracy of infomining are comparable to those of general medical devices.Currently, Infomining’s health watch device is about to be reviewed as a medical grade device in Korea, and is being introduced and promoted by large university hospitals such as Yeungnam University Medical Center and Chungnam National University Hospital.

Telemedicine allows patients to use video call equipment at home without going directly to the hospital, or to connect to a doctor at a uniformly installed telemedicine facility to conduct face-to-face examinations such as interviews. Diagnosis and prescription are made without facilitation. If an imaging test was performed or a blood test was performed, all of them must be available to the doctor at the same time for complete remote treatment.

The original purpose is to first receive telemedicine if a patient occurs in remote areas, and to avoid the hassle of having to go to the hospital every time in managing chronic diseases, even if it is not a wallpaper.

If medicine develops and imaging technology develops as it is now and leads to the world, you can see a foreign doctor remotely, or if you use robotic surgery, you can have a foreign renowned doctor undergo surgery in another country. In fact, the reading of the Department of Radiology can be read by a doctor in any country in the world by sending only pictures. In the case of hospitalization, it is thought that it will be an intensive patient, urgent treatment due to an acute disease, or surgery.

This telemedicine is likely to be activated indefinitely in the future. Almost all hospitals are connected to each other by electronic systems, so anyone can see their personal medical experience anywhere, and no matter which hospital they treat, the records will remain in the national health care institution. In this case, how to manage personal privacy will emerge as a big problem.

No matter what illness you receive at home, you will be able to install a medical monitoring device provided by the company at home, observe the patient on video at all times in the hospital, or check the details of the monitor instrument.

Unlike the above, recently referred to untact medical treatment is a telephone treatment that simply asks over the phone and administers drugs, and is generally difficult to change and especially issues prescriptions for additional medication or informs the test results over the phone.

A typical non-face-to-face treatment is to stay at home and treat people with mild symptoms during the recent implementation of With Corona. It would be possible for a doctor to regularly check the patient over the phone, but it would not be easy to talk to the doctor when the patient suddenly changes or has doubts. I think there will be many difficulties.

Now, in many countries, individual life and individual health are being transformed into a system managed by the state. These telemedicine systems are required to be gradually implemented as national research institutes are established to establish the system. Mammoth research is needed that requires joint participation of medical institutions, doctors, governments, electronic companies, medical insurance organizations, and patients.


Sam Kim

Asia Journal