Online Medicine at a Crossroads

Deloitte Perspective

2016 (Volume V)

Mark Weiser, the father of ubiquitous computing, said that the most influential technology is the one that recedes into the background of our lives. This description precisely fits the Internet. As it embeds itself in traditional industries, the Internet changes how information is distributed, reorganizes how factors of production are combined, optimizes marketing, and improves consumers’ experiences. The Internet has permeated through every aspect of our daily lives, and restructured various sectors such as retail trade, tourism, finance and education.

Without a doubt, the impact of Internet will continue to deepen. What does the future hold for the healthcare industry in such drastic change?

In China, healthcare demand is huge. However, there are many weaknesses in its healthcare system. There is great potential to help it overcome these drawbacks if technologies such as the “Internet of Things” can be applied to the medical industry. Over the last two years, we have seen rapid growth in online diagnosis, treatment and prognosis. It has attracted significant corporate investment and growing interest from private investors to medical professionals.

However, further investment and entrepreneurship in health care is blocked by the monopolistic nature of the traditional medical industry, the lack of a well-established system of professional medical evaluation and regulation, and the inability of online services to really diversify and distinguish themselves. As a consequence, online treatment is not yet well-entrenched within the medical system.

Internet-based medicine, therefore appears to be at a crossroads in China. New policies are needed, and relevant technologies need to be applied and improved. With its first stage of development, the online medical industry is ready for a new stage of development and integration, backed by clearly defined business models.

Yvonne Wu
Deloitte China Partner | National Life Science & Health Care Industry Leader

Andrea Ding
Life Science & Health Care Industry Researcher

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