Quarterly Trends Report

Q4 2019: China’s internet hospitals

  • Multi Asset
  • Healthcare
  • Greater China

Internet hospitals (IHs) emerged in China in 2014, with the first officially approved facility opening in Guangdong province. They have since expanded, with 158 operating as of mid-2019, and could prove beneficial for alleviating the difficulties people have accessing treatment. In China, there are three tiers of healthcare, but there is generally no gatekeeping – meaning that people can choose where and from which doctor they want treatment. As people tend to head to high-level facilities, even for non-serious symptoms, this has led to overcrowding and long waiting times.

IHs work by allowing patients to head to a local facility to speak to doctors from other areas. Alternatively, apps have been developed that allow patients to contact doctors directly. There are regulations governing what can be done via internet hospitals and how they must be set up, for instance, patients cannot receive a diagnosis on their first visit. In addition, IHs must operate on the basis of a physical hospital and licences must be obtained. 

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