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Internet medical service surges in China

wuzhenwic.org Updated: 2021-09-09

China had more than 1,600 internet hospitals as of June this year, a greatly increased number since December 2018.

According to the National Health Commission, the country's internet medical service, supported by policies and advanced technologies, has grown into a key part of the medical service system.

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A man receives medical treatment through the telemedicine video system at a drug store in Hangzhou, East China's Zhejiang province. The drug store offers clinical reception launched by Wuzhen Internet Hospital. [Photo/IC]

Ye Quanfu, head of the commission's National Institute of Hospital Administration, said that in 2020, the number of online consultations provided by 44 internet hospitals administered by the commission was 17 times greater than that in 2019 and the volume of online consultations offered by third party platforms increased more than 20-fold over the same period.

Peking Union Medical College Hospital's internet hospital is the first of its kind to be approved in Beijing. So far, 49 departments and more than 1,000 medical workers at the hospital are taking online consultant work and have provided 200,000 medical services to patients.

Thirty-eight departments and more than 1,200 medical workers are now available for internet diagnosis and treatment at the hospital and have offered 70,000 medical services.

Encouraged by the NHC, medical institutes have taken advantage of internet technologies to improve medical service procedures.

Gao Yong, an official at the NHC's Bureau of Medical Administration, said that by the end of 2020, the appointment rate and the timeslot reservation of the third-grade hospitals were 52 and 82 percent. Online payment is available at 2,337 third-grade hospitals and more than 5,000 second-grade hospitals have online payment and smart guide and diagnosis services.

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic catalyzed development and innovation of the internet medical industry.

The NHC has released several documents on improving internet medical consultant service and promoting construction of smart hospitals since the pandemic burst out, which has boosted development of the industry.

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The internet medical service industry has been emerging in China in recent years thanks to preferential policies and advanced technologies. [Photo/IC]

Internet medical service has played a positive role in meeting patients' medical needs, relieving medical service pressure in the hospital, reducing gatherings and avoiding cross infections.

With continuous development of internet medical service, more services including preoperative evaluation, postoperative follow-up and interpretation of pathological results are also planned to go online, Chang Qing, deputy director at Peking Union Medical College Hospital's Office of Medical Administration, said.

A group service mode will be available in the future to better serve patients who have similar diseases, Chang added.

He also mentioned that a special disease monitoring system can be built based on the internet hospitals which is expected to support monitoring and early warning of severe illness.

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Internet medical service can relieve medical service pressure in the hospital while meeting patients' medical needs. [Photo/IC]

Although developing rapidly, the internet medical service is still in an infancy stage.

Liu Wenxian, deputy head of the NHC's Department of Planning, Development and Informatization, said that with the expansion of medical service from offline to online, medical service mode has changed. The internet-based medical health care should highlight innovation in the service system, industrial standards, network security and talent team building.

He added that government departments will also innovate new ways of supervision and management to support stable and continuous development of the emerging industry.


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