China plans to build a consolidated and coordinated health information platform by 2025 to provide better medical services and guard against public health threats, according to a recent document.
The National Health Commission published a blueprint on Wednesday that charts the course for further integrating the healthcare sector with information technologies during the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) period.
The plan was jointly released by the National Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine and the National Administration of Disease Prevention and Control.
"The plan is expected to provide strong support for the country to avert and address major epidemic and acute public health emergencies … cope with an aging society proactively and establish a high-quality and efficient healthcare service network," the commission said in a statement explaining the document.
The plan said that by 2025, all public medical institutions should be connected to a national health information platform while information sharing between different hospitals should be further stepped up.
Databases containing demographic statistics, health and medical records will be further improved, and each resident is expected to have an online health catalog and a digital health code that would facilitate cross-regional medical consultations, it added.
Meanwhile, an all-encompassing platform dedicated to contagious disease supervision, early warning and emergency response will be rolled out to ramp up early detection and coordinated handling of major epidemics and acute public health emergencies.
The facility will not only be accessible to authorities from county to national levels, but also contain a wide array of information, such as abnormal health events, virology test results, media reports and public complaints, said the document.
It also stressed that both of the newly proposed gigantic information archives should be connected to all levels of hospitals and grassroots medical institutions.
The plan also mentioned expanding the role of online consultations in the countryside and boosting the collection and processing of information on nursery care services and the elderly.
Significant progress has been made in China's health sector in employing information technologies in recent years, with a basic form of the envisioned health information platform taking shape, according to Mao Qun'an, director of the commission's department of planning and information.
Official data show that more than 2,200 hospitals at the tertiary level — the highest among a three-tier grade system for hospitals — have achieved information sharing with each other.
During the COVID-19 epidemic, big data technologies have played a vital role in tracking infections and allocating materials, and online medical consultations have helped meet the demands of patients and reduced the virus' spread.