Pandemic accelerates China's shift to digital healthcare
China is set to undergo a medical industry transformation over the next decade with an accelerated shift to digital healthcare. That’s according to new research from Deloitte China.
While the pandemic has certainly accelerated the shift to virtual care, Deloitte’s report, titled Internet Hospitals in China: The new step into digital healthcare, acknowledges that other conditions including greater public acceptance and favourable policies and sector reforms are contributing to the rapid development of China’s online hospital ecosystem.
"As the online economy has developed, and with mindsets and business models changing due to COVID-19, new infrastructure construction and sharply growing demand for hospital transformation, it is now time for online hospitals to enter a development boom," says Jens Ewert, Deloitte China Life Sciences & Health Care Industry Leader.
"In the next 10 years, the medical industry will undergo an unprecedented transformation with radical innovation and changes to the nature of services and processes, evolving from traditional medical services to smart health management."
As of 2020, investment and fundraising in the online hospital market hit RMB30 billion, far exceeding 2019 levels.
Multiple factors fuelling China’s online hospitals
A number of factors are fuelling the expansion of China’s online hospitals and virtual care.
With the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, over the last year or more, the Chinese public has gradually accepted online diagnosis and treatment, door-to-door medicine delivery, online payment and other services. In fact, data from the National Health Commission reveals that online consultations increased 20-fold YOY during the pandemic.
Policies have also been introduced to promote online sales of prescription medicines and allow medical insurance payouts to online hospitals, both major moves in the opening up of the online hospital ecosystem and which form a complete closed online loop from consultation and prescription, to settlement and medicine delivery.
Implementation of further sector reforms is set to advance the establishment of level-to-level diagnosis and the overall health management system, while construction of new infrastructure, such as 5G networks, will create a conducive environment for industry development.
"Online hospitals are set to create an internet-based closed loop covering medicine, drugs and insurance, or a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) model,” says Yvonne Wu, Deloitte Asia Pacific and China Life Sciences & Health Care Risk Advisory Leader.
And an online HMO has plenty of advantages, from reducing medical expenses and resource waste due to the fact that it has no geographical limits and can reach more user groups. “It will also promote full-lifecycle medical services and gradually create an ecosystem that realizes the core value of smart healthcare, covering patient education, clinical service, treatment, payment and health management,” adds Wu.
Medical services management in the spotlight
Deloitte China reveals that at the heart of online hospitals is medical services management, which covers four service types – remote consultation and treatment, remote diagnosis, after-hospital care and health management.
Online hospitals have two main operating models - hospital + internet (online hospitals associated with offline medical institutions) and internet + hospital (separate online hospitals established by medical institutions).
And each model delivers both advantages and disadvantages in terms of resources, platform operation and technical capability, the depth and range of accessible medical information, integrity of government regulation, patient satisfaction, overall process management and medical insurance.
According to Wu, "Integration and cooperation between the two models is the ideal approach” as this not only strengthens the connection between online and offline medical institutions, but also “enables offline hospitals to leverage the internet for channel expansion”.
She adds: “The amassment of medical resources will transform medical service processes and extend the medical ecosystem, thereby driving industry reform and innovation, as well as the equal distribution of medical resources and medical service efficiency."
DBS Bank expands digital trade finance on Contour platform
DBS Bank has boosted its digitalisation extending its offerings on trade finance network Contour to corporate customers in four key Asia-Pacific markets – Australia, China, Hong Kong and Singapore.
Singapore-based DBS was the first bank to sign up to Contour’s beta network and completed the first fully digital Letter of Credit (LC) transaction on Contour last year. The bank has moved to Contour’s production network to offer streamlined digital LC transactions for customers, to help digitise global trade.
Contour’s network focuses on digitising paper-based trade finance processes which can be expensive and time-consuming.
APAC is seen as a key region for digitisation of trade finance as banks and corporates seek to mitigate risk and enhance cost efficiency, including moving away from traditional paper-based LC processes.
Via Contour, which is also based in Singapore, DBS will be able to provide a fully digital end-to-end LC settlement process for customers in Australia, China, Hong Kong and Singapore, including the transfer of electronic trade and title documents – increasing efficiency in the process by up to 90%.
Digitised trade finance builds resilient ecosystem
“Our partnership with Contour aligns with DBS’ ongoing efforts to drive greater efficiencies in trade and unlock strategic value for our corporate customers,” said Sriram Muthukrishnan, Group Head of Trade Product Management, DBS Bank.
“We recognise that digitisation is a powerful enabler to simplify the highly complex nature of trade finance, especially for processes relating to letters of credit. Digitising trade processes is also an increasingly relevant and heightened priority for corporates to survive and thrive in the new normal and will form an integral component for resilient trade ecosystems of the future.”
Contour’s decentralised network increases security as it validates all identities and leverages technology partners to match trade documents to real-time data. Contour also offers a sustainable way for companies to reduce their carbon footprint.
“The addition of another major Asian bank to our production network highlights Contour’s growing presence in APAC as an industry standard for digitising trade finance documentation,” said Carl Wegner, CEO at Contour.
“DBS has been an important partner for Contour in our work to support Singapore’s position as a key trading hub and has already participated in a number of successful transactions on our network. We’re delighted to facilitate its transition to offering live services to customers in these four markets. This is another important step on our journey to becoming the new digital end-to-end infrastructure for global trade.”