It's possible for Chinese patients to get treatment from doctors as far away as the US by sending case histories via the Internet or undergoing video diagnosis, and it's the same vice versa.
The Internet has provided more possibilities for telemedicine and transnational cooperation on medical research. American online healthcare networks are seeking cooperation with Chinese hospitals and doctors.
More Health, a California company providing online healthcare services, is cooperating with 306 Hospital of the People's Liberation Army and several others to provide online diagnosis and other online services.
"More than half of mobile healthcare apps are based in the US, and only about four percent are in Asia. California is the most advanced in this area, and Chinese doctors' involvement will greatly help with the ‘digital divide'," said Jeff Leader, chief marketing officer of More Health.
Gu Jianwen, director of the 306 Hospital, said services include not only diagnosing and treating existing diseases, but also research into potential health problems humans will face in future such as Alzheimer's and Aids, as well as infectious diseases such as SARS.
Qu Changmin, director of the Gastroenterology Department at the 306 Hospital, expressed his willingness to cooperate with online healthcare companies, taking the field of gastroenterology as an example.
"China has made big progresses on gastroenterology but the clinical treatment ability and database are not well developed, which are what the American medical field is good at," Qu said, adding that cooperation between two countries via the Internet can help to make the best of the both sides.
He Xiaodong, medical director of the General Surgery Department of Peking Union Medical College Hospital, is one of more than 200 doctors in China to have joined More Health and provide medical services online for patients all over the world.
"With the Internet, patients with difficult diseases can be co-diagnosed by professional doctors around the world. Doctors in both countries can cooperate in research and share databases. It's also good for medical education and research," said He.
However, the online cooperation on medical services, especially with China and other developing countries is still on the starting stage with obstacles to overcome.
"Communications between doctors from China and the US have been smooth and enlightening, but more efforts are still needed for a better cooperation because of different laws and cultures in the two countries." He Xiaodong said.
Yan Dongjie contributed to the story. Contact the writer at email@example.com