Life of a Life-Saver
Professor Ko Yong in Hanyang University hospital
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Countless doctors are striving day and night to save another life in Korea. Especially in university hospitals, where patients with grave illnesses visit, doctors are trying to make every second count. In the midst of Hanyang University Hospital in the Neurosurgery Department, Ko Yong (Department of Medicine, ‘81) was also working hard in his position, caring for both the patients and the citizen’s health insurance.
A step toward the development of health insurance
Ko received the Minister prize from the Ministry of Health and Welfare on the 29th of December last year, for improving the system of Korea’s health insurance. Ko started off explaining the insurance systems of hospitals that most citizens do not know. “There is an organization named the Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service (HIRAS), which assesses hospitals’ usage of medical supplies and drugs to the patients, according to the insurance standard,” explained Ko. Various expensive drugs and supplies are needed in order to save the patient, and hospitals claim this differs between the severeness of the illnesses. Once the HIRAS decides that the hospital has not met the standards, they reduce the amount of financial aid, leaving the hospital with huge deficits. This creates a vicious cycle as hospitals then start to avoid patients with certain illnesses, since they already know they would not be able to receive the amount of money required to run the hospital.
In order to protect these hospitals, another organization named Health Insurance Dispute Medication Committee (HIDMC) exists. This organization gives further assessment on the hospitals that assert unfairness, and Ko has been working with this organization for four years. He applied evidence-based-medicine to his standards and gave the hospitals another assessment. “Quite a lot of the people in HIRAS lack practical experience in hospitals. Therefore, I wrote a book named, ‘Neurosurgery Health Insurance Payroll Criteria Consultation Guide’ including various actual examples, so that the evaluators could interpret the criteria in the right direction,” explained Ko.
The book, ‘Neurosurgery Health Insurance Payroll Criteria Consultation Guide’ is the first book in the field of neurosurgery that has all the specific criteria and exceptions based on actual medical treatment. This book is especially important to the hospitals since their management of the hospital depends on this one assessment. “Say that a hospital used a 100 million won to save a patient. If the HIRAS decides they are going to reduce seven thousand won of their support money, the hospital has no option but to close their hospital,” said Ko. By giving the hospital a safer environment to cure patients without the risk of deficits, he was able to be recognized by an organization that is in charge of all medical affairs. “Allowing all doctors like me to concentrate solely on the treatment of patients felt fruitful,” commented Ko.
To save more lives in Korea
The dream of becoming a doctor started when Ko was an elementary school student. “My grandfather passed away from a cerebral hemorrhage when I was only a second grader in elementary school. Back then, there were only a few neurosurgeons, and as a result, they could not cure my grandfather in the hospital. That’s why I was determined to become a neurosurgeon,” reminisced Ko. He devoted his life into medical studies since then.
Now, as a professor, a doctor, and as a leader of various organizations, 24 hours is not enough. “I start my day with a conference around half past seven in the morning. I then make my rounds to observe my patients, write research in my lab, and treat patients that need help. I have conferences in each organization a couple of times a month and continue my studies to improve the health insurance system,” explained Ko. He commented that he feels a sense of accomplishment when his patients walk out of the hospital healthy after recovering from a grave illness. Although he is continuing various research, his top priority still lies in the lives of his patients.
Ko emphasized the quality of life for all people. “Due to the characteristics of neurosurgery, there are a lot of people in a vegetative state. However, I exert my abilities as much as I can so that my patients can live a humane life,” commented Ko. He also conveyed his words that all Hanyangians, just like him, to have pride in themselves and our school, and to do their best, no matter what. Thanks to doctors like Ko, a citizens’ quality of life is improving day by day, without us even noticing.
On Jung-yun firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos by Choi Min-ju
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