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OECD Reviews of Health Care Quality: Korea 2012

Raising Standards

image of OECD Reviews of Health Care Quality: Korea 2012

At a time when ever more information is available about the quality of health care, the challenge for policy makers is to better understand the policies and approaches that sit behind the numbers. Korea is the first country report in a new OECD series evaluating the quality of health care across OECD countries – whether care is safe, effective and responsive to patients’ needs. OECD Reviews of Health Care Quality examine what works and what does not work, both to benchmark the efforts of countries and to provide advice on reforms to improve quality of health care. This series of individual country reviews will be followed by a final summary report on the lessons learnt for good policy practices.

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Strengthening primary care

This chapter highlights why bolstering primary care ought to be a major priority for Korea in the years ahead. Korea has one of the world’s most rapidly ageing populations and rising chronic diseases. This is already a major challenge to the health system, as illustrated by high levels of potentially avoidable hospital admissions for key chronic diseases and increasing expenditure on chronic disease-related care. At the same time, the absence of functional gate-keeping and the large number of clinics seeking to provide more “acute” services often leads to patients missing out on less technology intensive but highly cost effective patient counselling to prevent and manage their health condition. To improve the quality of care in the Korean health system, policy makers should support the growth of effective primary care services in communities. Not only will this require more primary care practices and better remuneration for family medicine, but it will also require the development of a regional architecture so that insurance can target funding to areas of need. Collecting better information and bolstering the workforce of primary care professionals are two fundamental reforms that will be needed to help develop better primary health care in Korea.

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