Aovid-19 has shifted the way our world operates. While we were already experiencing increased digitization transforming industries from retail to education, Covid-19 has forced digital health into the spotlight making it extremely consequential at this time. With the need for quality healthcare and the rise of technology, right now the industry in China is seeing a period of major growth. Despite its slow start, China has now caught up to, if not surpassed, other countries in the world in its digital health policies.
Before the pandemic: healthcare systems across the globe are facing mounting pressure.
Regardless of current circumstances, healthcare systems around the world were already facing intensifying pressure. As the global population continues to age, the industry faces a serious shortage of workers. This shortage in the workforce is expected to grow substantially by 2030. To fill this gap, governments around the world are looking towards digital health as the answer, already laying the policy foundation to support the development of digital health and ultimately address the shortage.
While China in particular has made significant progress in healthcare reforms, the country is still facing challenges such as the worker shortage mentioned above, resource imbalance, and high out-of-pocket cost. These issues, compounded by covid-19, and accompanied by the growth of China’s technology sector, have created conditions for the growth of digital health.
While it is promoting nationwide public security surveillance, the Chinese government recognizes the rising privacy issue caused by companies in the private sector. It has been strengthening legislation and regulation over data privacy since at least 2017.
Explaining the buzzword: What is digital health?
Digital health refers to the application of internet & mobile technologies, artificial intelligence (AI), information technology (IT), and big data to support healthcare in the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, monitoring, and management of health-related issues.
Digital health solutions have improved healthcare services in China, and have helped the country make progress towards its healthcare reform agenda. Over the next few years, patients in China can expect to see and experience the benefits brought by China’s RMB 225bn digital health market.
Sample pages from SCMP Research China Digital Health Report 2021
The information and sample pages above are taken from the China Digital Health 2021. Click here for more information.
The disruption of Covid-19.
Our children have started zooming alongside our online meetings and regardless of experience or comfort level, Covid-19 thrust a huge portion of the world into the digital world as we practiced social distancing and worked, learned, exercised, and entertained ourselves from home.
The pandemic has also become an unexpected catalyst for digital health adoption. People are now forced to utilise virtual health services to limit non-essential contact and practice social distancing. Vaccination distribution and management is also becoming digitized in our new world. Digital health companies have arisen to guide patients through the vaccine process helping them book appointments, provide digital vaccine certificates, and track side-effects all through digital services. More advanced digital solutions like AI-driven diagnosis, and vaccine development, are also proving their worth.
As soon as the pandemic began, the World Health Organization recognized digital health as one of the newest tools in the kit to combat surmounting pressure on the healthcare system. In Sri Lanka, when cases were first reported, apps were developed and rolled out that managed and redistributed patients when the healthcare system was overwhelmed and at its peak.
Looking forward: the rise of technology and the growth of digital health.
With the backdrop of Covid-19 and the technology transformations in the industry, digital health services like the use of internet and mobile technology to provide health information and deliver all-in healthcare services virtually and remotely may be implemented going forward regardless of a healthcare crisis.
Countries around the world, including China, have turned to digital health services and are considering a “vaccine passport” or other forms of digital health certificates to ensure safe travels in the future. Companies and governments are also working together to advance digital health and contact tracing.
The four main sectors of digital health, Internet healthcare, AI in healthcare, healthcare IT, and big data in healthcare are seeing major growth around the world and in China. Technology solutions are increasingly able to perform tasks that can alleviate the pressure on healthcare systems. Specifically, the growth in data volume and computing power has enabled the growth of digital health.
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Cover of SCMP Research China Digital Health Report 2021