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Telemedicine ignites Chinese healthcare transformation

Editor: Zhang Dan 丨CCTV.com

07-02-2015 16:21 BJT

By Tom McGregor, freelancer based in Beijing

China has entered a ‘New Economy’ era that favors sustainable development and improved social services at the risk of slower economic growth rates. Beijing seeks to boost its healthcare services nationwide, but daunting challenges remain ahead, such as surging costs, over-crowded urban hospitals and a declining number of doctors working in the rural countryside.

China’s population standing at over 1.3 billion faces has to contend with rising rates of chronic illness. Some medical studies have indicated that one out of three Chinese citizens could be suffering from a sickness that requires extensive treatment, which may include regular doctors’ visits, therapy sessions and adhering to prescription medication regimens.

Apparently, telemedicine could bridge the gap to revamp the quality of healthcare for urban and rural residents while minimizing medical costs, as well as reducing over-crowded conditions at 'Big City' hospitals.

What is telemedicine?

Telemedicine can best be understood as e-Health, the process of delivering healthcare and health resources through electronic means. Telemedicine is defined as the use of telecommunications and IT (information technology) to provide clinical solutions to patients via smartphones, emails, two-way video conference calls and other wireless devices, such as wearable and wifi-connected bio sensors.

The telemedicine sector can work in an efficient manner, because certified caregivers have access to a wide-range of medical data and studies along with personal e-Health records, while patients can transmit photos of their ailments and discuss health concerns with doctors by using smartphones at any time of day or night.

Meanwhile, new advances in the telemedicine industry would provide more hi-tech and convenient services for patients. Since users have greater access to information on treatment programs or they can learn more about preventative care. The chronically ill can see fewer emergency care visits to the hospital as well.

Pharmaceuticals saving lives and lowering healthcare costs

Pharmaceutical corporations have spent billions and billions of US dollars on R&D (Research and Development) to bring life-saving drugs to the market. Laboratory scientists have devoted their lives to conduct life-changing clinical studies on medications as they analyze in detail the corresponding benefits and side-effects for patients. Many of the chronically ill must take prescription drugs on a daily basis, especially those who are elderly.

Yet prescription pills are only effective when taken as prescribed, and the elderly often forget to take their medications as scheduled or take the wrong dosage by mistake. Hence, telemedicine can play a pivotal role to resolve such difficulties.

A few companies are offering automatic pill dispensers connected to the Internet. Such devices have a pre-set alarm system that dispenses the proper pills at the previously arranged time for patients. And if by chance a patient does not respond to the alarm for any given reason, the pill machine will issue an automatic warning through emails or text messages.

Big data brings big efficiency

Telemedicine is a tool to store ‘Big Data’ for the benefit of healthcare providers, health insurance companies, pharmaceuticals and most importantly of all, patients. Health-related communications that are transmitted via electronic communications between patients and caregivers can be stored as information into a cloud-based server along with a compilation of e-Health records.

Additionally, pharmaceuticals can conduct more clinical studies on new medicines by communicating with those being tested on social media platforms. Accordingly, if some people are suffering from adverse side-effects, they can disclose the results immediately on the Internet, which can be stored electronically. And if certain drugs under testing have proven to be effective, the information gets stored as well, which could accelerate procedures to introduce the new drug to the market.

Offering high-quality healthcare for one-and-all

Telemedicine can be the right solution at the right time for China. The Chinese people deserve high-quality care, but let’s be honest it’s impossible to open top-notch state-of-the-art healthcare facilities in every small and isolated village in the nation, since costs would be insurmountable.

Fortunately, telemedicine offers a pragmatic cure to connect today’s rural Chinese residents with highly-qualified ‘Big City’ doctors. Chronic ill patients, whether they live in cities or the countryside, can also enjoy receiving enormous benefits from utilizing telemedicine as well.

( The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com. )



Panview offers a new window of understanding the world as well as China through the views, opinions, and analysis of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

Panview offers an alternative angle on China and the rest of the world through the analyses and opinions of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

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