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Author's profile photo Christine Donato

Seoul’s Demand for Geriatric Care Grows

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Walking through a crumbling hillside neighborhood that lacks running water, a South Korean man in his late 70’s approaches the long line for the soup kitchen, unbeknownst to him if anyone will appear to administer food.

In Seoul, a Korean War veteran cares for his sick wife, yet medication is scarce and food is out of reach. He is only able to salvage $300 a month from a veteran group and a government welfare fund.

Despite South Korea’s 50 year economic growth, these sad situations are realistic.

The country’s elderly population is on the rise (10.7% of the people in the nation are over age 65), and half of them are living in poverty. This is the highest rate in the industrialized world.  Although a pension system was implemented in 1988 to protect the elderly, many people are not eligible for these benefits, and in current studies, only 37% of South Koreans think that children should look after their parents.  In addition, Korea’s suicide rate among the elderly has more than tripled since 2000.

Part of the issue is that treating the elderly is a low-profit business; so many private hospitals avoid geriatrics. Bunday Hospital Revised Logo.png

Understanding the need to save its elderly, Seoul National University Bundang Hospital (SNUBH), one of four hospitals affiliated with Seoul National University Medical School, opened a new innovative medical center for the elderly in 2003.

The hospital branch is a national medical center specializing in adult and elderly diseases and also provides a general treatment and emergency facility for residents. SNUBH consists of 8 centers and 34 departments. It has over 1,400 beds and accommodates 6,000 patient visits per day.

SNUBH is the first hospital in South Korea and the Asia Pacific region to leverage advanced digital technology—replacing paper charts with electric medical records, computerizing patient-treatment data using the SAP HANA platform, and implementing mobile solutions for data retrieval.

By adopting SAP HANA for its clinical indicator system, SNUBH realized that antibiotics were being administered unnecessarily. With data analysis provided in seconds (when it previously took one to two months), the hospital was able to reduce preventative antibiotic usage from surgical procedures from six days to one. Over 3 months, the use of unnecessary antibiotics was reduced from 5.8% to 1.2%.

This is just one example of how SNUBH is helping combat the growing rate of elderly people forgoing treatment and care when they are sick.  Regardless of whether or not treating the elderly is profitable, SNUBH is complying with a moral duty to help the elderly people of South Korea. With the use of innovative technology, the hospital is able to operate more efficiently and provide more care to more people.

To learn more about the SNUBH and its use of SAP HANA, read the customer journey.

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