Internet hospitals facilitate medical treatment

A resident of east China's Shandong Province, surnamed Zhu, was recently able to experience the convenience of medical consultation through an Internet hospital.

A resident of east China's Shandong Province, surnamed Zhu, was recently able to experience the convenience of medical consultation through an Internet hospital.

Zhu and her parents, who are from the city of Yantai, on December 20 found that they had developed symptoms including a sore throat and fever, but they didn't have suitable medicines at home.

After her neighbourhood committee introduced her to the WeChat mini-program operated by the Internet hospital of Yantai Yuhuangding Hospital, Zhu described their symptoms on the form provided.

Later, a doctor replied and prescribed her targeted medicines in less than 20 minutes based on the consultation.

In the afternoon of the same day, the hospital contacted a courier to collect the medicines from a designated pharmacy and deliver them to Zhu.

Yin Shaohua, director of the Yantai Yuhuangding Hospital's outpatient department, said that to cope with the increasing demand for consultations, the hospital on December 16 added fever clinic windows for different groups on its WeChat mini-program, including fever clinics for adults, children and those who want to seek COVID-19 consultations with traditional Chinese medicine experts.

On December 16, the online fever clinics opened for the first time. The next day, 128 online consultations were recorded. On December 22, that number was 757. Yin said that this can help reduce cross-infection and meet patients' needs for diversified medical care.

Additionally, the Internet hospital has launched various services, including online consultation services for different specialities, online medicine prescriptions, and door-to-door medicine delivery, so that patients can see a doctor at home.

"Our Internet hospital has cooperated with offline designated pharmacies. After consultations, prescriptions and order placements are completed through the mini-program, patients can come to the hospital or a designated pharmacy to collect their medicines, or they can choose to have their medicines delivered to their homes," said Zhang Zhenzhen, who works in the hospital's network information office.

Zhang said that the qualification of the designated pharmacies has been assessed, and the medicines they sell are the same as those prescribed in hospitals to ensure the effectiveness of treatment.

Shandong has opened 174 Internet hospitals to provide online diagnosis and treatment, medication guidance and psychological counselling services for patients with fevers or chronic diseases.

As the COVID-19 response has shifted from infection prevention to medical treatment, China has taken a combination of measures to boost access to medical treatment and drugs, improve health services for the elderly and other key groups, accelerate vaccination, and strengthen COVID-19 prevention and control work in rural areas.

China is also expanding the capacity of fever clinics at medical institutions. By the end of October, there were 19,400 fever clinics or consulting rooms at community health care centres and at the township level across the country.

In northwest China's Shaanxi Province, residents can also enjoy the convenience brought by Internet hospitals.

On Tuesday, a resident surnamed Jiang from the provincial capital city of Xi'an consulted Wu Hongyan, a paediatrics doctor at the First Affiliated Hospital of Xi'an Jiaotong University, through its Internet hospital.

During the video consultation, Wu inquired about Jiang's son's age, weight and symptoms, and observed the child's condition. She said that Jiang should help his son take antipyretics, ensure the boy drinks plenty of water, pay attention to his perspiration, and take the boy to the hospital if his fever continues beyond 48 hours.

Jiang said he was reassured after the consultation.

"The Internet hospital provides convenience for patients who do not need to go to the hospital for the time being, but need advice from doctors," Wu said, adding that she now sees 10 to 20-plus parents through online consultations every day.

Wu gives medication and care instructions, and advises parents to pay close attention to their children's health. Children who show specific symptoms are advised to go directly to the hospital.

In addition to providing Internet hospital services, Shaanxi is strengthening its supply of drugs to meet residents' needs, expanding its critical care resources, and increasing its number of fever clinics.

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