Healthcare In China Seen Increased Use Of Digital Technologies

Data-driven technologies have made it possible for the general public to find out if they have recently been in close proximity to any confirmed cases of the coronavirus.

Healthcare In China Seen Increased Use Of Digital Technologies

China has seen an increased integration of digital technologies in healthcare delivery, which accelerated during the outbreak of COVID-19.

The National Health Commission (NHC) of the People’s Republic of China issued a notice to strengthen the use of digital solutions to support the response to the pandemic on February 2, 2020.

This directive enhanced public-private partnerships, enabling national and local health authorities to collaborate with private companies.

Through the provision of digital solutions to reduce coronavirus spread and, concurrently, accelerate access to adequate healthcare as the pandemic developed, this arrangement empowered digital technology providers to drive technological innovation in healthcare delivery.

A woman in her 30s became the first person in China to undergo the longest-distance gallbladder removal surgery. The successful remote surgery was carried out by a doctor located more than 4,500 kilometres (2,800 miles) away from the patient.

5G technology and a four-arm laparoscopic robot enabled the surgeon to effectively operate on the patient in a hospital located in the country’s far northwest, Xinjiang. Liu Chunming, a 48-year-old man who nearly died after a car crash in Taihe, a remote county in China’s southeast Jiangxi province, survived serious abdominal injuries thanks to specialist doctors who led his treatment from 1,000 km (621 miles) away.

Digital technology supported live video feeds and software that shared the patient’s scans and files, leading to his recovery. This is a growing trend in China, fostering uniform resource distribution across urban and rural areas.

These digital technology companies have offered a variety of services that have been essential to combating COVID-19 during the immediate outbreak response and later in the impact mitigation stage, from building information and communication technology (ICT) to aggregating and analysing data at scale to improving the accessibility of virtual or artificial intelligence (AI)-powered tools.

For instance, data-driven technologies have made it possible for the general public to find out if they have recently been in close proximity to any confirmed cases of the coronavirus.

These technologies include a mobile application that was initially created by an independent software developer and aggregates data on COVID-19 cases from all-level public surveillance systems and the national transportation authorities.

The mobile application, a crucial tool in stopping the coronavirus’s spread in China, provides the general public with a useful digital tool to assess exposure levels and gives detailed instructions on the importance of observing people’s health as they go about their daily lives.

Digital technologies have changed the game in the health sector during this challenging time, when COVID-19 has disrupted various social and economic activities, especially for offline medical diagnosis and treatment channels, an integral part of the development of the health system.

According to NHC data, COVID-19 has severely hampered the ability of offline medical diagnosis and treatment channels to function. There were 250 million visits to medical and health facilities in China overall in February 2020. (excluding Hubei Province).

Medical and healthcare visits had decreased by 45.7 percent from one month to the next and 38.2 percent year over year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, 10.434 million patients were discharged in February 2020, a decrease of 35.6 percent annually and 47.7 percent monthly.

China has expanded online medical services, including internet hospitals, integrated the internet into healthcare, and provided online diagnosis, online consultation and treatment, follow-up treatment, and health management to advance health equity in order to address this urgent challenge and reduce the mounting pressure on offline healthcare facilities.

In the fight against COVID-19, China is currently home to more than 1,600 internet hospitals, a crucial resource that improves access to healthcare through remote healthcare services while at the same time reducing crowded offline meetings at physical hospitals throughout the nation.

During the early years of COVID-19, nearly 49 million people took online diagnosis and treatment in China. In 2022, the NHC issued a notice to expand online medical services to provide faster and more convenient medical treatment, reducing the risk of cross-infections.

China’s 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) includes a development plan for the medical equipment industry, which includes integrating ICT into the industry, creating new medical robots and digital health platforms, and accelerating, complementing and optimizing healthcare services across rural and urban areas. Digital technologies have been instrumental in the fight against COVID-19 and expanding universal health coverage.