While the world invests in Precision Medicine, Korea still stick to big data
Nam Do Yeong | namdo0@ | 2018-05-08 10:46:51

A new medical paradigm so called `Precision Medical` is in boom in the era of the 4th Industrial Revolution. Domestic problems such as the protection of personal information are at its best while the developed countries are in a hurry to invest.

The National Institutes of Health, on May 6 (local time) has revealed that it is recruiting volunteers for the ALL of Us which is the largest medical care project ever undertaken. NIH collects 1 million participants and collects genetic information, biometric information, electronic medical record (EHR) and lifestyle information based on the project.

The main goal of the project is to gather information from all racial and ethnic groups in the United States to create precision medical big data that researchers can use extensively. A precision is a new medical paradigm which seeks to find causes of illnesses through these big data and to find customized preventive and remedial measures. US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar stated, "All of Us has the potential to revolutionize the method we study diseases and medicine. We expect to create an effective scientific foundation for a personalized healthcare era."

Countries are hurrying to invest in precision medical care as an alternative to reducing the surge in medical expenses due to aging. The United States is expected to invest USD 1.455 billion (about KRW 1.5 trillion) in precision medicine for 10 years from 2017. Also, private companies like `23 and `also collect more than two millions genetic information and research on new drug development. Earlier, UK invested USD 250 million in 2006-2010, collecting 500,000 DNA samples and health information from the nation. China, on the other hand, plans to form a so called "National Precision Medical Strategy Expert Committee" in 2015 and to invest CNY 60 billion (about KRW 10 trillion) by 2030.

Meanwhile, domestic residents are working closely with medical institutions to introduce precision medicine. However, they are not getting out of the way because of related regulations. The 4th Industrial Revolution Committee said that it would implement artificial intelligence (AI) based precision medicine from 2020 at the end of last year. For now, Korea University Medical Center participates in the project of the Ministry of Health and Welfare to develop cancer diagnosis and treatment system and hospital information system (P-HIS) based on precision medical care. 25 medical institutions including 19 hospitals and 19 information and communication technology companies participate in the development of so called "Dr. Answer", an AI-based precision medical solution of the Ministry of Science and Technology.

However, the collection and use of Big Data, the core of precision healthcare implementation, is hampered by regulations. Due to the Personal Information Protection Act, it is not easy to collect large-scale medical information and the standardization of information is insufficient.

There is a concern about leakage accidents when large-scale distribution of medical information, which is sensitive information despite the Ministry of Health and Welfare enacts the "Special Law on Healthcare Medical Big Data" to establish a legal basis and conduct related pilot projects.

Park Do-joon, director of the National Institute of Health, pointed out, "A huge database of biometric information should be built for the population in order for precision medical care to be implemented properly."

By Nam Do Yeong namdo0@

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