The system consists of VDR-1000, a unit that can measure biometric information such as ECG (electrocardiogram), pulse wave, pulse, respiration and blood pressure, and a central monitoring system called VMA-1000, which allows medical personnel to monitor the condition of patients.
"Because the medical team can measure biometric signals of patients hospitalized with infectious diseases in real-time, it can minimize the possibility of secondary infection in the hospital and streamline the operation of insufficient medical personnel," the Ministry of Science and ICT said in a statement.
The system has been certified by the state-run National Institute of Medical Device Safety Information (NIDS) as a second-class medical device, opening the way for use at domestic hospitals and exports, the ministry said, adding the Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI), a state research body, was involved in the development of the system.
In preparation for the second wave of COVID-19, the testing period was shortened through cooperation with the Daegu-Gyeongbuk Medical Innovation Foundation (DGMIF), a medical device testing body.
South Korean hospitals are willing to purchase the system and talks are under way with Waa Group, Inc, a Los Angeles-based consulting company, to export it to Kuwait. An unnamed medical device company, which is to receive technology transfer from ETRI, is pursuing overseas certification, the science ministry said.
The ministry suggested that the new system would be a solution for COVID-19 patients to be housed at temporary healthcare centers. "It is expected to contribute not only to managing patients with viral infectious diseases but also to the efficiency of medical treatment at hospitals," ETRI's medical IT convergence research section head Kim Kyu-hyung was quoted as saying.
Kim said that a joint study was conducted with Seoul National University (SNU) Hospital to test a remote patient management system for the treatment of COVID-19 patients at SNU's temporary healthcare center in Mungyeong, about 130 kilometers (80 miles) southeast of Seoul. The center treated 118 clinically healthy patients from March 5 to April 9.
"COVID-19 is changing the existing medical paradigm," Bae Ye-seul, an SNU Hospital professor, said in a research paper published in early July, saying hospitals should establish an operating system that actively utilizes information and communications technology.
To prevent a queue in patients waiting for beds at isolation wards, patients have been divided into two groups. Critical patients were treated at negative pressure wards and those showing light symptoms or asymptomatic patients were sent to state-designated "living and treatment support centers" that served as temporary hospitals.
Government and private buildings equipped with lodging and dining facilities in remote areas have been used as temporary hospitals. Health officials described the temporary treatment system as the backbone of "K-quarantine."
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