Web brings medics to grassroots

Updated: 2013-04-13 14:31

By Liu Jie (China Daily)

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China has set medical informatization as an impartment part of its medical reform. The former Ministry of Health said that it would invest 61.1 billion yuan ($9.83 billion) by 2015 in building a nationwide healthcare information system.

Statistics from market intelligence agency International Data Center show that China spent 14.6 billion yuan in medical information system building in 2012, up 28.9 percent from a year earlier. The expenditure is expected to reach 33.9 billion yuan in 2016.

Diversified demand

GE Healthcare said its Internet-based telemedicare strategy is eyeing various demands in China, and it is studying local conditions to make its technologies more tailored.

In the grassroots market, including urban community healthcare centers, township-level hospitals and village clinics, long-distance diagnosis is the current focus. "On the other hand, we are making use of informatization to help big hospitals in key cities - our high-end clients - streamline and rationalize management systems," said Duan.

Shanghai Re Medical Co is a newcomer to the sector. As a business jointly established by Shanghai Jiaotong University's medical school and a group of professionals two years ago, it is now engaged in providing remote and mobile cardiovascular disease diagnosis services for community clinics and rural healthcare centers.

The company's target group is China's 230 million patients with cardiovascular disease who seek help at community clinics and rural medical institutes where cardiologists are in short supply.

By the end of last year, its network reached 170 residential community clinics in Shanghai, covering 20 million people. The cost of the service is around 30 percent that of a professional cardiologist.

James Xiao, a senior manager with PricewaterhouseCoopers China Pharmaceutical & Life Science, said that China has 32,000 community clinics and more than 37,000 township and village medical centers, which indicates the huge market potential of this service.

"With an aging society, the service will be more popular."

Internet-based mobile services are needed not only by patients but also hospitals, not only in the grassroots market but also in the high-end sector.

Zhou Shenlai, vice-president of Beijing Anzhen Hospital - a key hospital specializing in cardiovascular diseases, said that making full use of the Internet and digital data to rationalize its workflow and increase work efficiency is an urgent task for the hospital.

"We are in the early stage of this process, we need cooperation with both the government and our suppliers, such as medical equipment companies and drugmakers. We buy their hard products, and also need them to offer their soft strength - comprehensive solutions," Zhou said.

Internet-based medical demands of patients and doctors are different, but they have common goals - convenience, effectiveness and affordability.

For patients, such a service refers to using medical equipment and mobile devices, such as cellphones and iPads, to collect physical data and deliver information to practitioners, researchers, and conduct interactive communication.

For doctors and hospitals, an all-round system is needed. With electric health records - a systematic collection of electronic health information about individual patients or populations - are popularized, all examination, diagnosis and treatment steps can be implemented in a rapid, safe and efficient way.