Would you consult a doctor online?

Would you consult a doctor online? Source: Shutterstock

Is Asia comfortable with app-based healthcare solutions?

AROUND the world, there’s a shortage of good doctors. However, in China, the shortage is quite apparent.

This is especially true in remote parts of the country where patients struggle to get timely treatment and doctors are overworked and stressed.

According to data acquired by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, there are 1.5 doctors for every 1,000 people in China, compared with 2.5 in the US.

The solution? AI and app-based healthcare. Of the country’s 1.3 billion people, Ping An Good Doctor app had 228 million active users by the end of June according to the company’s filings. In November last year, that number was 180 million.

And although the company is still a loss-making entity, it’s gaining popularity in the country. According to the South China Morning Post, monthly active users, who tapped on the app for online medical and wellness consultation services, reached 48.6 million, climbing 51 percent year on year.

Launched in 2015, the Ping An Good Doctor app provides free diagnosis, treatment, and online appointment bookings to patients in China.

It also allows users to speak to healthcare professionals via text messages, photos, and videos. The app also provides content on healthcare and supports a microblog-style discussion forum on health-related topics.

The Ping An Good Doctor app also has an online store that sells medications, health care products, cosmetics, and gift vouchers for medical services.

The future is exciting — in Singapore and Indonesia

From the looks of it, the app – and app-based healthcare services are clearly picking up in Asia. So much so that the growth has inspired the company to tie up with Grab for an expansion into Singapore.

The joint venture will give people in Southeast Asia access to artificial intelligence-assisted online medical consultations, medicine delivery, and appointment bookings.

“We will quickly replicate most of our services in China to the new Southeast Asia platform. We will even bring our traditional Chinese medicine services there, as there are many Chinese immigrants in Southeast Asia,” Ping An Good Doctor Chairman and Chief Executive Wang Tao said recently.

Grab will have a 30 percent stake in the joint venture, with Ping An Good Doctor holding the rest. Based on comments Grab made to the SCMP, next stop for Ping An Good Doctor might be Indonesia.