''Unwavering Spirit of Challenge'' Collaboration between the Korea Cancer Cneter Hospital and meerecompany to generate synergy



The Korea Cancer Center Hospital, which was founded as a radiation medicine research institute in 1963, will celebrate its 60th anniversary next year. It was renamed Korea Institute of Radiological & Medical Sciences in 2007 as it fell under the umbrella of the Ministry of Science and ICT. The Korea Institute of Radiological & Medical Sciences, which consists of the Korea Cancer Center Hospital, the National Radiation Emergency Medical Center, and the Korea RadioIsotope Center for Pharmaceuticals, is strengthening its function as a platform where R&D research achievements and hospitals create positive synergy. In particular, joint research efforts for the clinical application and commercialization of biomedical technology are led by the Korea Cancer Center. Recent efforts have been focused on the advancement of the medical equipment in Korea. We had an interview with General Director Young Jun Hong of the Korea Cancer Center to hear about its future plans and the path it aims to follow with regard to the recently launched "Robotics Surgery Center."

General Director Hong first made it clear that he has no bias against Korean medical equipment. "We are using "Revo-i" for robotics surgery at the Korea Cancer Center Hospital," he said. "The hospital specializes in cancer treatment and has a 60-year history in the field. We can help to upgrade the model to be optimized for specialized cancer surgery if we identify shortcomings in the current model, based on the extensive experience of the medical staff at our hospital, and carry out joint research with meerecompany researchers.

He warned against views that discount Korean medical equipment. "Impossible is nothing when Korea is among the most advanced countries," and "Some people discount Korean medical equipment as having less quality. However, if the Korea Cancer Center Hospital verifies its quality and performance, more doctors will start using it and build trust in its performance," he added.

Taking the COVID-19 test kit as an example, General Director Hong said, "Although domestic test kits have long been sufficiently verified, doctors have not used them,” and said that we need to judge the level of domestic medical technology based on an objective standard.

General Director Hong highlighted that "The Korea Cancer Center Hospital has a 'Biobank' that stores human-derived materials, which has the advantage of shortening the time needed for evaluations." "It can generate structured and accurate verification data on the performance of domestic medical equipment, as well as suitability based on cancer patient data."

Robotics, once put on the back burner, return to the forefront thanks to collaboration efforts

He admits that there are numerous obstacles that need to be overcome before domestic medical equipment such as Revo-i can be successfully introduced.

He said "Surgery robots are expensive, costing millions of dollars," and "As a public cancer center, we have been focusing on radiation therapy. Therefore, using expensive imported surgery robots hasn't been our area of priority."

He recalled when Professor Gang-hyun Song returned from overseas to study robotics surgery and highlighted the need for introducing surgery robots. He also said the turning point was during the COVID-19 pandemic when people realized that using robotics to perform surgery could be more beneficial for both the patients and the surgeons.

In addition, when it came to the realization that robotic surgery could be applied to the treatment of radiation-exposed patients, which is one of the missions of the hospital, there was no reason to postpone this introduction any longer. The fact that other hospitals are using them had no impact on our decision.

The high price tag of surgery robotics was also a huge barrier. Because of this situation, we worked with meerecompany and introduced domestically developed surgery robotics.

Where there is a will there is a way... The goal is to develop equipment made in Korea instead of making profits

General Director Hong says that there are still people who are biased against Korean equipment, saying it is inferior without even trying them first. However, he believes a good part of Korean medical technology is as good as that of other advanced countries, if not better.

Whereas other medical institutions introduce surgical robots for profit, the Korea Cancer Center Hospital aims to introduce domestic medical equipment to identify areas that need improvement, and also to find and upgrade them. Such efforts would be in line with its mission.

He thinks very highly of meerecompany, which challenged the global market where equipment from U.S. companies dominates. Indeed, meerecompany has continued to invest for the past 10 years in a business field that even bigger companies gave up on and finally made a breakthrough.

Hong said, "meerecompany didn't give up on its business despite losing money." Many Korean and foreign medical staff who have visited the hospital said, "The 'Revo-i' is so advanced that the quality of robotics surgery technology will be vastly improved if it is widely used." "The more 'Revo-i’ is used in the wider global medical market, the better its performance will become," they predicted.

Hong said he was initially concerned about how the robot will be received among medical staff who have no previous experience. However, he soon realized that his worries were groundless.

Director Hong said, “Among the medical staff, there were people who had experienced robotic surgery as fellows, but most of them were accustomed to competitors' technology, so I was worried about how they would react.” “But such worries were unfounded. All of the medical staff sympathized with the great purpose of developing domestic medical devices, received training with affection, and became confident in the technology in the process," he said. The change has been encouraging, and he has high hopes for the future as well.

Synergy is expected due to the unwavering "spirit of challenge"

He said that the perception of Korean medical equipment among medical staff has greatly improved. General Director Hong said, "There are areas that require improvement, but many medical devices have resolved existing issues through upgrades. This goes for "Revo-i" as well. "The obstacle is certainly surmountable if we cooperate with the developer," he stressed.

"Various breakthrough technologies will be derived and developed out of ‘Revo-i’. Gang-hyun Song, the Director of the Robotics Surgery Center has come up with all sorts of ideas. meerecompany can certainly tap into those ideas and work with the hospital while turning ideas into actual commercial products. I expect good results will be realized through this process," he said.

The speed of responding to feedback about "Revo-i" is beating everyone's expectations.

Along with this, General Director Hong cited the fast response speed to feedback as an advantage of "Revo-i." Director Hong revealed that medical staff tends to complain about existing products because their wishes were not reflected nearly quickly enough. He emphasized that "The speed in responding to feedback about Revo-i far surpasses that of foreign companies."

General Director Hong said, "In order to change how medical staff perceives domestic medical devices, the Korea Cancer Center Hospital can play a role in analyzing the benefits and downsides of them in clinical trials while using them for various applications after introducing the equipment and gaining trust." "We have to do this as part of our mission, especially since not many institutions can do it." "This is the responsibility of the Korea Cancer Center Hospital," he stressed.

However, in order for "Revo-i" to be more widely accepted in other medical institutions, they stated that they need "clinical evidence," the language of experts.

According to General Director Hong, "Published theses are what make doctors at other hospitals want to use ‘Revo-i’ and think that it will be okay to use it." "You need to have research results. Therefore, the Korea Cancer Center Hospital needs to have more experience with 'Revo-i,' challenge new areas and publish all this as an academic thesis. This is the language of experts. It is evidence that makes it possible," he stressed.

Policy improvement is needed for promoting Korean medical equipment

He also emphasizes that regulatory improvements are needed, such as shortening the time for domestic medical equipment from development to clinical application.

General Director Hong said, "Revo-i has been approved by the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety and is already in use, but when improvements are made in the future or new devices derived from it are released, regulations will need to be updated for clinical application." "An enormous amount of time is needed for a medical device to be developed and clinically applied, and we need to find a way to shorten that," he pointed out. He repeatedly emphasized that quality domestic medical technology should not be dragged down by the system.

Article : http://www.whosaeng.com/139667