China’s medical and health industry ushers in digital revolution

The sudden outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020 has helped promote the digital revolution of the medical and health industry in China and even the world. AI, big data, robots, 3D printing, wearable devices and virtual reality have become interfaced with medical technology, bringing a new pattern to the entire industry.

Visitors watch a COVID-19 control and prevention platform using AI at an expo in Shenzhen. (Photo/Xinhua)

According to statistics, during the epidemic, the number of online diagnosis and treatment in hospitals under the National Health Commission has increased 17 times compared with the same period last year, and the number of diagnosis and treatment consultations on some third-party online service platforms increased by more than 20 times over the same period.

Some institutions predict that the size of China’s online medical market will reach 200 billion yuan ($30.4 billion) in 2020, a market growth rate of 46.7 percent, the highest growth rate since 2015.

“The epidemic has greatly changed the health care services model. Due to the inconvenience of offline medical treatment, the Internet has become the second battlefield for many hospitals and doctors to fight the epidemic.Internet health care is a major trend that we could not imagine in the past, but will continue to develop in the future,” said Dong Jiahong, an academician at the Chinese Academy of Engineering.

With the continuous popularization and progress of new technology, the application scenarios of digital health are constantly being enriched, and its development space is constantly expanding.

30 provinces have established Internet-related medical service platforms, and there are more than 900 Internet hospitals across the country. The telemedicine collaboration network covers all prefecture-level cities, and more than 5,500 hospitals at or above the second level can provide online services, according to Mao Qunan, Director of the Planning, Development and Informatization Department of the National Health Commission.

“It is estimated that by the end of 2019, the number of digital medical users in China reached 620 million,” said Chen Baiping, managing director and partner at Boston Consulting Group, noting that China has more than 1 million doctors who can consult online, and that there are more than 100 third-party medical platforms. 

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