With one year's operation, China's first internet hospital in Wuzhen has tried multiple practices never seen in the country before.[Special coverage]
Though it was just a few days before the Second World Internet Conference in December last year that the Wuzhen Internet Hospital was founded, it now already has more than 260,000 doctors and over 7,400 medical teams from across the country.
"The doctors and teams are all based in other traditional hospitals, while we also have a team of about 300 doctors working exclusively for us", said Peng Dezhen, deputy head of the Wuzhen-based hospital.
Founded by We Doctor, a company based in Shanghai, the internet hospital has finished three rounds of financing and now has a value of more than $3 billion, according to Peng.
Via a website and a smartphone application called We Doctor, more patients are turning to the platform for better medical services.
Peng explained how the platform works.
"For most patients, visits to traditional hospitals are still needed, since they should receive certain inspections and examinations there," said Peng. "Before that, they may need some advice from doctors, such as what might be the problem and which department in the hospitals they should go to for an examination.
"Getting an examination doesn't mean patients will receive the best treatment, as large hospitals are crowded and many leading specialists there are busy dealing only with minor ailments," he added. "With the examination results, the patients can also consult certain specialists online", said Peng, adding that the cost of a consultation ranges from 10 yuan to 250 yuan in most cases.
The doctors and patients can communicate in various ways, such as real-time messages, phone calls and video conversations.
For more complicated cases, certain teams will also be accessible to the patients, offering them more comprehensive solutions.
"With such practices, the patients from underdeveloped places can also enjoy highly qualified medical services", said Peng.
The internet hospital is now seeking cooperation with more hospitals across the country.
Such practices have also been supported by the authorities. The State Council issued multiple guidelines last year, aimed at improving the medical sector, as the authorities are eager to ensure the medical system becomes more sustainable and accessible.
The authorities also encourage hospitals to offer patients more accessible medical services via the internet, according to a guideline released by the State Council in July last year.
The Wuzhen-based Internet Hospital is like a headquarters, and it plans to establish 32 branches across China before the end of this year.
We Doctor is also cooperating with the authorities in Jiangsu province to build a cloud platform, which will include local residents' heath records, hospital records, medical insurance and payment information.
"Upon completion, the information will be shared among all the cooperating hospitals and all the patients should bring when seeing a doctor is their smartphone", said Peng.