Business / Technology

Web-based hospital offers patients a high-tech remedy

By Ma Si in Beijing and Yang Jun in Guiyang (China Daily) Updated: 2016-07-12 10:34
As China steps up efforts to overhaul its overstretched medical system, a tech company in southwestern Guizhou province is taking an innovative approach-setting up an internet hospital exclusively for patients with complicated conditions.

The 39 Internet Hospital, launched by Guiyang Longmaster Information & Technology Co Ltd, is an online platform linking patients throughout China suffering from serious conditions with leading doctors from top-tier cities.

The online initiative, which raised 50 million yuan ($7.5 million) from investors last week, is part of Longmaster's broader effort to revolutionize the medicare sector with a service-oriented approach.

"Many patients travel to top-tier cities to consult experts, while many renowned doctors are burdened with the pressure of dealing with minor ailments," said Wang Wei, chairman of Shenzhen-listed Longmaster.

"We want to help change that," Wang said, adding that the hospital has already recruited more than 200 well-known doctors.

The 39 Internet Hospital is built on the basis of, a leading health information website in China, which has 160 million users. Longmaster acquired for 650 million yuan ($97 million) in 2014.

Unlike peer medical institutions, which only focus on video-based diagnosis, the online venture enables leading medical experts and local doctors to jointly treat patients, helping boost efficiency and save costs.

"Experts can offer guidance to local doctors via video calls, and decide whether patients need to go to major hospitals for diagnosis," said Pang Chenglin, general manager of the 39 Internet Hospital.

With help from doctors in big cities, around 70 percent to 80 percent of patients it has accepted in the past two months have received effective treatment at local hospitals, the company said.

The rest were transferred to the leading hospitals where these experts work.

"We will use the investment of 50 million yuan to recruit more doctors, build up the brand and offer training sessions on how to use the online platform," Pang added.

The government is pushing ahead with reforms to more effectively distribute medical resources.

According to the National Health and Family Planning Commission, China has 987,000 medical institutions as of last May, but class-three hospitals, the top category, only accounted for 0.2 percent.

Internet heavyweights Alibaba Group Holding Ltd and Tencent Holdings Ltd, as well as a string of startups, are seeking opportunities in the sector.

Qin Zexi, an analyst at Beijing-based iResearch Consulting Group, said it remains to be seen how the internet can facilitate medical treatment.

"After all, many patients are unable to accurately describe their symptoms over video calls," Qin said.

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