The digital health sector in South Korea: A promising investment target for global companies


The growth of South Korea’s digital health sector

With the advancement of medical digitalisation, the rapid increase in the elderly population, and the government’s policies to grow the digital health industry, South Korea is witnessing substantial growth in its digital health sector. Approximately 16% of South Korea’s population is aged 65 or older, and this figure is expected to surpass 25% by 2025. To address the rising medical costs and consistently provide world-class healthcare services, the South Korean government has long encouraged investments in the digital healthcare industry. According to the Korea Health Industry Development Institute’s (KHIDI) report in December 2020, the digital health sector in Korea is estimated to be worth $5.3 billion, marking a significant increase of 40%  compared to 2015.

South Korea’s healthcare landscape is highly receptive to the adoption of health IT. All tertiary hospitals already have embraced these technologies, utilising EMR systems to digitise patient data and store clinical images digitally, which are further analysed by AI. Moreover, the government plans to establish 18 smart hospitals by 2025, offering substantial opportunities to health IT solution providers.

The country also has plans to develop the AI-based medical solutions market. The AI-based healthcare market was estimated to be at $257 million in 2020 and is projected to reach $2.1 billion by 2025. 

Although remote telemedicine is currently prohibited in South Korea, the government recognises its potential. A survey revealed that 54% of South Koreans are willing to try remote telemedicine, and even with a 20% participation rate of South Korea’s population, a $1.9 billion market could be expected.

Given the government’s initiatives, digital maturity of major hospitals, ability of large enterprises to develop technologies, and increasing investments for startups in the digital health sector, South Korea provides a promising opportunity for global healthcare companies seeking technology licensing, investment, and partnership for global growth.

Showcasing the transformation of the healthcare Industry

The Korean Hospital Association (KHA) is organising the K-HOSPITAL+HEALTH TECH FAIR, a prominent event that emphasises the advancements in hospitals and digital health fields. KHA, the largest healthcare industry association in South Korea with 3,468 member hospitals nationwide, has been hosting this exhibition since 2014. From its inception, the event has encompassed various fields within the hospital and medical industry, and since 2018, it has expanded to include the digital health sector.

Happening on 14-16 September 2023 at COEX in Seoul, this year’s fair will focus on medical software (e.g., AI-based solutions, metaverse, etc.), medical information systems, and medical robotics. Attendees can explore medical AI and an emergency medical care special zone hosted by the National IT Industry Promotion Agency (NIPA) and exemplary smart hospital cases presented by KHIDI. Renowned South Korean IT companies like Naver and Kakao will also be present to showcase their innovative medical technologies. 

The KHA is also expanding its role as an enabler of innovation by hosting simultaneous events such as the K-Digital Healthcare Summit, Hospital AI Logistics Forum, and Hospital ESG Forum. The K-Digital Healthcare Summit is expected to attract considerable attention, offering participants an opportunity to share and explore medical innovation technology and new ideas. If you are interested in this exhibition, pre-register at the current official website and check event-related information here.


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