Calls for improved supervision of online healthcare industry
Patients seeking medical treatment in China now need to receive a diagnosis in person from a doctor at a hospital before they can access online consultation services, according to new regulations aimed at improving supervision of the nascent Internet healthcare industry.
The rules also require online service providers to have cooperation agreements with brick-and-mortar hospitals and say that health professionals must read a patient's medical records before they consult or prescribe medicine over the Internet.
The National Health Commission, which released the regulations, said medical consultants need at least three years of clinical experience in order to provide web services, and only prescriptions for common illnesses and chronic diseases are allowed to be issued online.
Li Tiantian, chairman of dxy.cn, an online community for medical consultations and diagnoses said it might not be necessary for first-time patients to get an in-person diagnosis before accessing online services, as some ailments can easily be identified over the internet or through image analysis.
"Such a clear-cut ban is detrimental to innovation," Li said. He suggests launching pilot programs for first-time patients with less complicated diseases.
The approval process for providers of online medical consultations will begin once regulatory platforms are set up at the provincial level.
The online medical consulting market has grown rapidly in China, with more than 1,000 companies formed between 2011 and 2016, according to a report by financial news outlet Yicai citing figures from the founder of an online medical services platform.
The report added that at least 200 billion yuan ($29.1 billion) had been invested in the market in the past four years.
Source: China Daily
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