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Digital era remaking healthcare

China Daily Updated: 2021-12-21


Rural doctor Yuan Ling helps a local village patient conduct 5G remote consultation with experts from Lu'an People's Hospital in Anhui province, in December 2020. [Photo/Xinhua]

While public hospitals, private medical institutions and pharmaceutical companies are all eyeing digital healthcare, they each have a different focus.

EqualOcean Intelligence said that at the current stage, electronic medical records and hospital interconnections are the main areas of emphasis for China's public, 3A-grade hospitals, which are the largest, highest-level facilities.

By 2020, 172 hospitals in China had passed an assessment of electronic medical records, which evaluates the degree to which records are digitized. Among them, 145 were public 3A-grade hospitals, representing 84.3 percent. Between 2016 and 2020, the hospitals that had achieved interconnection with other hospitals surged from nine to 148, according to the National Health Commission.

"Compared to public hospitals, the digitalization process of private medical institutions was rather slow," said Gao, the research director. "In addition, the building of digital client management has been their unique direction."

Gao said that especially the medical aesthetics sector, including plastic surgery, categorizes clients into different groups so that they can use precise marketing strategies to "bring more income to institutions".

Pharmaceutical enterprises are also increasing their investments in digitalization. Digital marketing is the sector that received the most investment, and it also is the most-developed sector.

Multinational pharmaceutical companies spend 10 to 20 percent of their sales revenue on building their digital marketing, while domestic companies usually spend 5 to 10 percent. This spending helped the companies explore grassroots-level markets and increase the efficiency of their communications.

Meanwhile, digital efforts also are being made in drug research and development and exploration of new treatment plans, the report said.

Meng Lilian, chief expert at the Sichuan Tianfu Health Industry Research Institute, said: "China's digital healthcare industry is in a growth stage. On one hand, the infrastructure construction is insufficient, which makes each medical institution independent from each other, and there are information imbalances.

"On the other hand, there are not enough digital products and services to offer to the digital healthcare industry."

Meng said that "to promote the high-quality development of China's digital healthcare industry, both top-level design and concrete efforts are needed. There is steady progress in related work. The government, especially, has invested many resources in the building of application scenarios."

"In addition, effective collaboration is needed among governmental supervision, the supply of digital healthcare products and the response from digital healthcare consumers," he added.

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