Despite growth, many reluctant to utilize online medical services
The COVID-19 pandemic has not resulted in an explosive growth in the number of online medical service users in the Yangtze River Delta, according to a report released by Shanghai Jiao Tong University over the weekend.
The report said only 22.07 percent of residents in the region have used online medical services after the virus outbreak.
“How to attract those who do not understand online medical services and have not used them remains a key issue in the development of the online medical industry,” said Zhang Lufa, executive dean of the university' institute of health in the Yangtze River Delta.
The conclusions were made based on research on policies, case and data studies, interviews with industrial insiders and questionnaires with patients and medics.
Nearly 80 percent of surveyed residents said they had never sought medical services online and about 19.05 percent said they lacked knowledge about the industry. More than 60 percent of the surveyed medics thought online medical service systems were established by hospitals.
The report said “incomprehension” and “distrust” were the main reasons that prevent patients from seeking online medical services. And more than half of the surveyed patients believed online medical services were still not mature enough in communication between patients and medics. There were also privacy concerns.
But the report also pointed out that online hospitals in China are growing faster, with more than 70 percent of surveyed doctors saying their hospitals have or are developing online service systems.
Several industrial insiders said breakthroughs in Internet technology, online payment approaches and service operation models are needed to ensure further development of the emerging industry.
The report predicted that online medical services dominated by physical hospitals will grow fast while third-party platforms will face challenges.
It said commercial insurance, medicine and medical equipment related manufacturers will become important forces to drive further development of the online medical service industry.