Online healthcare on its way, Li says

Updated 2018-04-13 09:11:04 China Daily

Premier, State Council let hospitals interact with patients via internet

China will greenlight internet medical services conducted by medical institutions as part of a broader push to promote Internet Plus healthcare, those at a State Council executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang decided on Thursday.

Medical institutions will be allowed to provide online diagnostic services for some common and chronic diseases in patients' follow-up visits to their doctors, according to a decision made at the meeting. The top two levels of hospitals within the country's three-tier system will be encouraged to provide online services, including consultations, reservations and test result inquiries.

"The development of Internet Plus Healthcare is a major initiative to enhance our country's public health services. It will also help facilitate overall economic and social development," Li said.

"As China joins the ranks of middle-income countries, the demand for health services has increased substantially. Internet Plus Healthcare can help alleviate the problem of inaccessible and expensive public health services that have long been a big concern for the general public," he said.

According to the Healthy China 2030 Blueprint released by the Party Central Committee and the State Council, China's Cabinet, in October 2016, efforts will be made to foster new industries, new forms and models of business in the health sector and to develop internet-based health services.

One decision coming out of the meeting says the intelligent review for health insurance will be vigorously applied and the one-stop settlement will be advanced. The real-time sharing of prescription and drug retail sales within medical institutions will be explored, as well, and the system of Internet Plus healthcare standards will be further refined.

Interconnectivity and sharing of medical information will be accelerated, those at the meeting determined, and the quality supervision of medical services and information security will be strengthened.

"We must waste no time in pushing forward the measures once the decision is made," Li said. "In recent years, top-level hospitals in major cities have seen steady increases in the number of outpatients. Medical bills have become a heavy burden on families and high-end medical resources still fall short of meeting the growing demand of the public."

To solve the problem, he said, a two-pronged approach must be taken. One is to establish medical partnerships such as healthcare consortia to enhance cooperation and coordination between major hospitals and community clinics. The other is to bring forward Internet Plus Healthcare to facilitate the sharing of quality medical resources.

The government will see to it that long-distance healthcare services cover all healthcare consortia and county-level hospitals and the quality medical resources in the country's eastern areas be also made available to the central and western regions, according to a decision made during the meeting.

More efforts will be made to ensure that high-speed broadband network will be extended to cover medical institutions at all levels in urban and rural areas. Dedicated internet access services will be set up to meet the needs for long-distance healthcare services.

"Anything involving human life is of utmost importance. The government must step up financial support to establish dedicated internet access services for medical purposes and increase the supply of high-end medical equipment at central hospitals in remote areas," Li said.

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