Telehealth in China: the largest market of them all?

click to enlargeIs China ready for telehealth, and the needed investment? It turns out that according to this article, the market does strongly resemble Western, Latin America and APAC countries in its needs and aging, dispersed population. The numbers (left) say yes. The market divides into three for the writer:

  1. A supplement to the public community care system, which has motivated most of the interest the Chinese government has in telehealth to care for millions (defined in the article as patient-doctor video consults, but doesn’t appear to exclude remote patient vital signs monitoring) as well as EHRs, scheduling, online access to diagnostic test results, and e-prescribing.
  2. Rural health care, not as unique as the writer seems to believe. Virtual consults and telehealth are used, and paid for, by CMS in US rural areas and on Native American reservations by the Indian Health Service. We also wrote about it in Brazil [TTA 27 Feb].
  3. Second opinions by Western physicians desired by high net worth individuals and upper middle class families. Again, not that unusual as this resembles the health tourism practiced by the affluent in Latin America and the adoption of video consults. This is denoted as the narrowest and chanciest of the three markets.

Chinese patients in (1) and (2), for the most part, would see any of these as an improvement. Their experience is that they get little time with a physician, don’t have a personal relationship with one or more doctors, and don’t expect much of a personal relationship with their doctor. So telehealth and RPM would be huge upgrades for China.  From Healthintelasia. Illustration from Analysis Group

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