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You no longer need to visit a hospital for a medical diagnosis in China

Ningbo Municipal Health and Family Planning Commission and Neusoft Xikang Healthcare Technology Co., Ltd. ("Neusoft Xikang") have jointly announced that China’s first cloud hospital is now open for business. The solution is built on Neusoft technology and is one of the new ways that Chinese people can seek and obtain medical attention faster.

There are no GP’s in China, thus people tend to queue for sometimes hours outside hospitals in order to be registered, and then obtain an appointment with a doctor. There are however solutions to this, Guahao has signed up more than a thousand hospitals (opens in new tab) for its registration solution and is looking at the problem from the patients point of view, offering services as a portal to the doctors. Services also include an initial diagnosis and referral to an appropriate doctor.

The Ningbo solution is delivering four dedicated clinics that relate to diabetes, hypertension, psychology and family planning. Initially the scheme has managed to attract 226 registered cloud doctors, but by July 2015 Ningbo hopes that the number will climb to 10 clinics and more than a 1000 doctors. Ningbo has also linked itself to 68 pharmacies in the region so that the platform can transfer prescriptions electronically.

Using the new platform Ningbo hopes to purchase additional services from the government, enabling it to grow from the income. The health market is huge in China and forecasted to be $70 billion (£47 billion) by 2020 according to Boston Consulting Group. (opens in new tab) There are five parts to the Ningbo solution:

Wang Renyuan, Director of Ningbo Municipal Health and Family Planning Commission spoke at the inauguration of the hospital saying "The aim of launching Ningbo Cloud Hospital is to maximise the supply of medical resources, particularly premium medical resources, while driving medical reform by reshaping the existing medical service system and healthcare model.

“During the construction period, Ningbo Cloud Hospital was able to fully integrate its online and offline diagnosis services, thanks to the solid foundation of health information and smart healthcare infrastructure in Ningbo, as well as the strong technical support from Neusoft Xikang. Along with the development and operation of Ningbo Cloud Hospital, we expect the cloud hospital platform will allow more local residents to enjoy high-quality and safe diagnosis services, and better healthcare services. It will also help to build a smart, healthy, and beautiful Ningbo."

Dr. Liu Jiren, Chairman & CEO of Neusoft commented: "The way we live and work now will be changed by the integration of information technology and traditional industry, and the transformation will be accelerated by the advance of new technologies, such as cloud computing, big data, mobile internet, and internet of things. The healthcare products and services provided by Ningbo Cloud Hospital are becoming daily consumer goods just like the water, electricity and gas supplied in a city.

"Ningbo Cloud Hospital will become a new infrastructure platform for Ningbo, which will not only bring changes to the traditional healthcare model, but also enable more high quality healthcare resources with better hospitals and doctors."

While this is a regional solution, one wonders whether Neusoft will be able to expand the model to the other cities in China, of which there are more than 300 with 1 million or more inhabitants. The Guahao solution is already nationwide and recently received a significant investment from Tencent, certainly this a market that is worth watching and some of the new ideas in China can be transported back to the US and Europe.

In the UK for instance the electronic transmission of prescriptions would be far more efficient and one wonders how long before we see greater integration. The NHS has spent millions on trying to unify healthcare solutions, if the Chinese can solve a problem far larger perhaps the UK should pay closer attention to what is being achieved there.

Image Credit: Flickr (Social Finance (opens in new tab))