Digital Revolution of Chinese Health

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In the first of our features on Digital Game Changers, we look at how China’s health sector is being rapidly digitized.

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Digital Health in China

According to report by Boston Consulting Group last year, spending on digital health care services in China will grow exponentially hitting 110 billion USD in 2020.

Today, 80% of Chinese drug sales take place within hospitals, each doctor facing an average of 50 to 60 patients each day, a largely unsustainable situation.

As China mobile penetration rate and demands on the hospitals increase, we see a growth in the need for digital services such as online appointment booking, online drug purchasing and remote patient diagnosis.

Official and Brand Enthusiasm 

Anticipating the rise of digital health, the Chinese government invested an estimated 9.5 billion RMB into developing health information technology (electronic medical records), making it easier to register for online pharmacy products online.

As e-commerce grows rapidly in China – with the rise of brands such as Taobao, Tmall and JD.com – the provision of health services online is emerging as a new super industry.  Local digital companies including Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent are already developing health care search and e-commerce services as part of their platforms.

Also driven by consumer trend of self monitoring 

The digitization of health also fits with trends we are observing at SMART.  We have noticed an increasing number of netizens monitoring their health and exercise via their mobile phones.  Urban residents can be seen measuring their heart rates with their phones as part of their personal wellness program.  Apple, Samsung and Huawei are further fuelling this behavior with their promotion of smart watch devices.

This emerging trend provides a behavioral context for an increasing use of digital formats to purchase pharmaceuticals according to self-diagnosis on their mobile device.

Due to China’s ageing population and frail hospital services, the digitalization of health is emerging as a natural solution in a society increasingly connected through digital platforms.

For these reasons expect China to be a pioneer in digitalizing health services globally.

Stay tuned for the next in our series on Digital Game Changers.

About Author

Tracy Zhang

As a Masters graduate of Foreign Trade, Tracy started her career helping supermarket brand City Shop to source the ‘hunger’ of Shanghai’s internationalizing consumers. Now that she has found her passion in consumer research, she is helping develop Resonance's ground-breaking ethnographic offer.

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