Internship Opportunity
Internship - Jaseng Hospital of Korean Medicine

Overview of Jaseng’s Herbal Medicine Dispensary Tour – By Diana Ruan

Diana Ruan
Columbia University ‘17

 

An in-depth tour of Jaseng’s herbal medicine dispensary, during which the production of herbal medications can be observed from start to finish, provides a unique opportunity for reassurance that Jaseng prioritizes patient trust by adhering to the highest quality control standards for their medicine’s safety and efficacy.

Internship - Jaseng Hospital of Korean Medicine

The tour of the Sungnam dispensary, which fulfills prescriptions from eleven of the 19 total Jaseng branches in Korea, begins with an introduction in the conference room of the first floor. Jaseng’s particular attention to detail is evident from the moment the introduction begins. You notice that it is carefully crafted to consider the patients’ point of view. Why do people want to come on this tour? They want to make sure that their medicine is made well and made properly. Why is it important for patients to see how their medication is produced? The foundation of the relationship between a patient and Jaseng is trust, and seeing is believing. The tour also helps skeptics of Eastern medicine begin to recognize its integrity and to build trust in it. How can patients see and place their faith in Jaseng’s human-centric values through this tour? There is a reason why over 90 percent of people report positive responses after experiencing a tour of the herbal medication dispensary. At each point of production, it is obvious that safety is the number one priority, followed by innovative methods that make consuming typically unappetizing herbal medicine much more bearable and almost enjoyable.

Following the dispensary introduction, patients are taken up a level to the herbal storage and prescription-fulfilling rooms. The herb storage room is precisely temperature-controlled to maintain the herbs in the best state, and activated charcoal and salt are used to manage humidity and pests. In the storage room, you find that in addition to the meticulous maintenance of the storage conditions, the herbs themselves are of the highest quality obtainable from anywhere in the world. A look at the packaging of the herbs reveals a “GMP” label, which stands for “good manufacturing practice,” awarded by the Korean equivalent of the FDA. The label contains detailed information regarding examination of the herbs, which provides full transparency. Perhaps one of the most intriguing parts of the tour is the deer antlers carefully stored in the room. Ensuring the quality of these deer antlers, used for a wide variety of medications including Youkong-dan (육공단), is so important that Jaseng sends staff to Russia specifically to be first in line to acquire the best possible products. In the prescription-fulfilling room, after a doctor prescribes medication for a patient through the computer system, the prescribed herbs are packaged together and labeled with the patient’s barcode. This barcode is central to each step in the production process, as it assures no mix-ups will occur. The herbs are once again checked for metals, poisons, and harmful herb contamination before moving on to liquid extraction.

Prior to entering the herbal medicine extraction room on the third floor, each person slips on shoe covers to maintain a high level of sanitation and cleanliness in the room. Each extraction machine is customizable for optimal extraction with an adjustable pressure valve. Only specially filtered water is used, and the temperature is optimized to produce the least bitter taste possible to make it more palatable for patients. The liquid herbal concoction “smart” packaging, although three to four times more expensive than typical packaging, is designed for convenience and to make the patient as comfortable and in as good of a mood as possible when consuming the medicine.

Internship - Jaseng Hospital of Korean Medicine

Continuing from the extraction room, you are whisked into a sterile room of people deftly molding a brown substance into balls that are subsequently packaged into beautifully designed and easy-to-open containers. Here you learn that these balls, Gwanjul-go (관절고), are the product of a fermentation process spanning seven days specifically designed to eliminate the bitter taste. While medicine intended for treatment rather than preventative purposes (치약), such as Gwanjul-go, typically tastes bitter, the seven day fermentation process allows the patient to enjoy a much subtler, herbal flavor without an off-putting bitterness. The next room leads you to the molding room, where Youkong-dang (육공단) is molded into small, perfectly rounded balls, a shape that allows patients to easily dissolve the medicine in their mouths. A machine dedicated to producing an herbal mixture with a consistent texture, a ventilator made of stainless steel to prevent rust, and the rotating dehydration machine each demonstrate Jaseng’s effort to make the process of taking medicine as safe and enjoyable as possible.

The tour ends in the delivery room on the first floor, where the guide explains that Jaseng has its own fleet of delivery personnel who deliver medicine to patients in Seoul to make sure patients receiving their medication by the next day at the latest. Each step in the herbal medication production is carefully controlled for the highest possible quality. Those who have the opportunity to attend the tour of the dispensary walk away with a deep appreciation for how Jaseng’s human-centric values command the entire process of medicine production and manifest in the utmost attention to detail. One would be hard-pressed to find any other herbal medication production system in the world that upholds such high standards for safety, efficacy, service, and delivery.