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Bahrain buys Korea health system

Mar 08,2017
South Korea signed a contract Monday to export its health insurance information management system to Bahrain. It was Korea’s first export of the system.

South Korea’s Health Insurance and Review and Assessment Service (HIRA) signed a contract with Bahrain’s Supreme Health Council (SCH) at the Shilla Hotel in central Seoul on Monday to work on a 15.5 billion won ($13.4 million) project to reform the Bahrain National Health Insurance System. Including the hardware and software, the total value of the project is expected to be over 25 billion won.

HIRA is used for Korea’s National Health Insurance Service.

HIRA invited international organizations such as the World Bank, the World Health Organization (WHO) and 21 countries to a “Sustainable UHC (Universal Health Coverage) through Stronger Health Systems” conference in January 2016.

After hearing explanations of South Korea’s Health Insurance and Review and Assessment Service, Sheikh Mohammad Bin Abdulla Al Khalifa, President Lieutenant General of Bahrain’s Supreme Health Council (SCH), said, “Oh, this is a system from my dreams. It would be great if Bahrain had this too.”

Initially, Khalifa wanted to import a health insurance information management system from European countries or Japan. Unstable oil prices and skyrocketing expenses are increasingly worrying Middle Eastern countries that offer free healthcare to their citizens.

After shopping around, Khalifa chose South Korea’s system. Last March, Khalifa invited HIRA President Sohn Myong-sei to Bahrain and the agreement was reached after signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

The systems exported are the Drug Utilization Review (DUR), National Health Insurance Sharing Service (NHISS) and the Smart Utilization of Electronic Medical Records (SUN) systems.

The DUR system examines the safety of pharmaceuticals and medical supply, the NHISS system considers the applicability of medical treatment and evaluates the quality of medical treatment. Of these systems, Bahrain took particular notice of the SUN system. With the SUN system, Bahrain can apply a statistical system for national policy that analyzes the expenses of a specific disease and the total cost of medical treatment. Bahrain was impressed by the South Korean system, which deals with over 50 million insurance policy holders, automatically analyzing more than 1.5 billion medical records per year and forecasting the size of medical expenses.

There are hopes that the HIRA system will be exported to other countries.

BY CHU IN-YOUNG [hwang.hosub@joongang.co.kr]