The Chinese healthcare system has many issues it is trying to overcome. Most of them have at their root a general mistrust of the Chinese people for the government, its institutions, and even its healthcare providers. As an example, patients commute to major urban centers, which are already suffering from overcrowding, due to a lack of trust in the care at local clinics. There is a belief by some, including Florian Then a partner at McKinsey and Company, that telemedicine can help relieve some of these issues.
Market intelligence from IDC reports that there are 847 million mobile phones in China in 2015 and about 83% of Chinese internet users access the web via mobile phone. The hope would be to use this existing infrastructure to augment resources such as providing urban doctor support to rural physicians via telemedicine and offering intensive online education to patients on chronic disease topics.
It is estimated by the research firm IHS that the Chinese government spent around $13 million on telemedicine in 2013 but this number may need to be larger. One of the biggest hurdles, however, seems to be physician participation and lack of an incentive to partner with the government in this initiative. According to a report compiled by Benjamin Niu, an analyst at IHS, Chinas next several steps in telemedicine could lay the foundation for the sort of innovation the country has built a reputation for: creating something entirely new out of necessity and the systemic failure of the established way things are being done today.