The purpose of this research is to provide basic information for health policy and the management of adequate supply and demand for health care resources, and to build healthcare knowledge bases. Moreover, this study provides research towards planning and implementation of practical health care businesses for regional and local governments, providing basic information for regional health planning and health policy, and presenting statistics related to the health resource requirements of international organizations such as the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development).
Based on health care law, we conducted a national survey of hospitals, health clinics, and pharmacies from July 1, 2011 to September 30. We collected data on performance, ability, supply organizations, supplies, and health care provider types according to health care service, the quantitative and qualitative level of health care resources, the distribution status of health care resources, and the current situation and attributes of facilities, equipment, and employees of health care facilities. In addition, we examined the current status of medical facilities, staffs, equipment, and pharmacies. Health care facilities directly entered their data based on the health care resource research management system; after, the health director confirmed the data, and we then conducted supervision training on the preparation and results from the health care facilities. We created a supervision system and worked with administrative support in order to improve the efficiency of the research.
According to the results of the health care resources survey (June 2011), the most common medical facility was health clinics and pharmacies (81,664), mostly located in metropolitan areas. Seoul had the most hospitals, dentists, and oriental medicine hospitals. Pediatrics and Internal Medicine facilities were the most common. While Seoul and Gyeonggi-do had the most hospital beds in total, Jeollabuk-do had the most hospital beds compared to its population. Seoul had the greatest number of doctors, dentists, and nurses. The number of health and medical treatment personnel for the population of 100,000 people was in the order of doctors, dentists, and acupuncturist, and expensive medical equipment (such as MRI, CT, PET, ESWL, etc.) was also concentrated in Seoul and Gyeonggi area.
According to our comparative analysis of health care resources, the number of hospital beds for acute disease patients were 1.6 times higher than the OECD average, and twice as much as the UK. Hospital beds for long-term care (senior citizens) were also 3.6 times higher than the average of OECD countries. However, the number of doctors (including acupuncturists) were 1.6 times lower than the OECD average, and the number of nurses was also lower compared to OECD countries. The quantity of major medical equipment (CT, MRI) was 1.48 times more numerous for CT machines and 1.57 times more numerous for MRI machines than the OECD average. Radiation Therapy Equipment (RTE), gamma cameras, and angiography units were less numerous than the OECD average. Extracorporeal Shock Wave Crushers and mammography devices were more numerous than the OECD average.
Through this research, we learned that Korea needs to find ways to reduce imbalances between regions, change health insurance coverage policies for the adequate supply of health care equipment, and to control the supply of beds for patients who suffer acute diseases and those who need long-term care.