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Chinese patients want personalized health services and Internet-based medical care

Insights from 2016 China Patients Survey

SUMMARY

As China seeks to improve healthcare delivery to its 1.3 billion people, Internet-based healthcare services—which have been flourishing thanks to the rapid growth of the Internet, and expanding Internet and mobile usage—offer solutions to plug several inefficiencies in the system. Digital healthcare can help in solving issues like overcrowding of large hospitals, in providing a personalized healthcare service, and in achieving the country's goal of healthcare for everyone.

BACKGROUND

Can digital healthcare really make a difference? Can it help China in providing its people safer, cheaper, more effective and more convenient medical services? To find a clear answer to that, Accenture, WeDoctor (formerly guahao.com) and the China Health Promotion Foundation (CHPF) cosponsored a survey of the medical treatment and health management behaviors of the Chinese people, with the objective of understanding the challenges people face in seeking healthcare and to see how electronic medical care can improve the efficiency of the country's healthcare system.

ANALYSIS

There has been some improvement in healthcare following the reforms in recent years. Since the latest round of reforms in 2009, a new medical and health care framework that focuses on four key pillars—public health services, medical services, medical security and medicine supply—has been put in place. However, the pain points highlighted in our survey and people's preference for large hospitals only when it comes to healthcare indicate that medical care reforms have not been able to meet the expectations of the people. The state needs to focus on four key areas:

  1. Improvement in the overall healthcare experience

  2. Improvement in the hierarchical system of hospitals for diagnosis and treatment

  3. More personalized medical and health management services at affordable prices

  4. Embrace the Internet-based medical care

SUGGESTION

Admittedly, China's medical care reforms have not yet been able to address the difficulties and inconveniences faced by patients. But the expectations of the people provide clear directions for the government to focus on as it works on improving the healthcare system.

A holistic approach or a full-node experience emerges as the top priority for reform. This will need to be complemented with reform of the hierarchical hospital system for diagnosis and treatment.

Improving information and communication on medical care on the Internet is another key requirement that will help optimize medical resources and meet the growing expectations in healthcare. Successful healthcare reform is not about having bigger hospitals, it is about meeting the needs of patients.