See More on Facebook

Internet healthcare serving homebound patients in China

Online consultations, pharmaceutical deliveries play vital role during outbreak.

Written by

Updated: March 13, 2020

One recent rainy day, Wu Hong was waiting at the gate of her residential community in Wuhan, Hubei province. When a deliveryman with a bag of medicine came into sight, she was greatly relieved.

Wu’s mother-in-law is a breast-cancer patient and needs to take medicine regularly. Wu’s father suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and inhalers have been in short supply. As the novel coronavirus epidemic grew more serious, Wu wasn’t permitted to take her family to the hospital for drug refills. She was left in a state of restless anxiety.

On Feb 26, Wu and her husband saw a news segment on TV saying that the Wuhan government had enabled online reimbursement services for internet healthcare company WeDoctor. That was when they decided to give it a shot.

With simple steps including registration, medical record uploading, online consultation, dispensing under e-prescription, automatic medical insurance settlement and online payment, Wu received the lifesaving drugs on Feb 28.

“As a daughter of chronic disease patients, I am glad to have such a convenient service that is not unlike visiting physical hospitals. And the online reimbursement service is a blessing,” Wu said.

In the battle against the epidemic, those suffering from non-contagion related illnesses are also being looked after.

On Feb 23, the Wuhan Healthcare Security Administration issued 18 measures to ensure epidemic prevention and control as well as routine primary care. Among these measures, one supported the inclusion of medical insurance into internet-based healthcare, which has generated much attention.

The introduction of the measures is a blessing for chronic disease patients as they have a constant need to purchase and collect pharmaceuticals during the ongoing epidemic period, industry experts said.

On March 2, the National Healthcare Security Administration and the National Health Commission jointly issued a guideline on internet-based healthcare during the special epidemic period, noting that online medical services are now included in the national insurance system.

“Due to epidemic prevention and control requirements, numerous physical hospitals across the nation have now introduced online consultation services. However, there is an urgent need to resolve online reimbursements, as medical insurance is an integral part of healthcare,” said Zhang Xiaoxu, a research fellow at, an online healthcare website.

“Although good news regarding epidemic prevention and control efforts is increasingly being seen, we are still in a critical window period where there are limited medical resources and inconvenience in daily offline primary care,” Zhang said.

On Feb 24, Wuhan Union Hospital, Renmin Hospital of Wuhan University and Central Hospital of Wuhan included medical insurance into their online medical services. Patients can enjoy online consultations, online reimbursement and drug deliveries without leaving their homes.

On Feb 25, the Wuhan government agreed to include WeDoctor into the medical insurance system, and one day later, the service was open to the public.

According to WeDoctor, during the epidemic prevention and control period, consultation and treatment fees will be covered by the company, and drug prices will be in line with those in public hospitals. Drugs that conform to reimbursement requirements can be paid by medical insurance.

Other provinces are also taking actions during the special period. Currently, regions including Tianjin, Shanghai, Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Sichuan and Guangdong are in the process of including online service into social medical insurance programs.

“Hospitals have helped patients relieve their anxieties about visiting hospitals during the outbreak of the epidemic,” said Wang Xin, a senior executive of Tianjin WeDoctor Internet Hospital, an online medical consultation service portal under WeDoctor.

On Aug 30, 2019, the National Healthcare Security Administration issued a guideline to improve policies regarding internet-based medical service fees and medical spending reimbursements, and many regions, such as Guangdong, Sichuan and Tianjin, have been taking steps since then.

Zhang said the epidemic battle has prompted healthcare departments at all levels to specify their supportive policies to promote internet healthcare.

“For regions that have introduced online medical reimbursement, a closed loop is formed, from online consultation to drugs, further boosting the development of the internet healthcare sector. Whether for public hospitals or online healthcare platforms, there will be more patients and doctors involved in the sector, bringing more social value and influence to the whole healthcare industry. All parties involved rise as the industry rises, and internet medical service platforms can explore a better mode to make profits,” Zhang added.

Enjoyed this story? Share it.

China Daily
About the Author: China Daily covers domestic and world news through nine print editions and digital media worldwide.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia

Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.

By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

India’s Congress suffers setback after key leader defects to BJP

Move by Scindia and 22 legislators could trigger fall of Congress-led govt in central Madhya Pradesh state. The Congress has suffered a political setback following the resignation of Mr Jyotiraditya Scindia and 22 legislators in Madhya Pradesh state, deepening an existential crisis for a party that is struggling for political relevance in modern Indian politics. Mr Scindia, 49, an articulate leader, yesterday joined Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), with legislators loyal to him expected to follow suit. The move could lead to the collapse of the Congress-led Madhya Pradesh government. That would give the BJP a chance to form the government in the Hindi heartland state, which is seen as key objective for

By The Straits Times
March 12, 2020

Chinese Red Cross teams aid Iran’s COVID-19 fight

Humanitarian group to help Iranians with containment measures that worked in China. Voices on the other end of the line cut in and out due to a poor phone connection as officials at the Red Cross Society of China’s headquarters in Beijing attempted to talk to staff members on the ground in Iran on Tuesday morning. As the signal stabilised, the latest developments in controlling the novel coronavirus pneumonia epidemic in Teheran streamed into a conference room packed with Red Cross managers. Zhou Xiaohang, head of a five-member team-four medics and a Farsi interpreter sent to assist with COVID-19 control in Iran-said Iranians are increasingly taking precautions such as wearing face masks and washing their hands more often.

By China Daily
March 11, 2020

Shortage of Masks, Handwash due to panic- buying: Leave some for everyone

Despite repeated calls by global and local health experts and warnings from government, panic-buying grips the country. Global health experts have warned against hoarding masks, handwash and sanitisers during the coronavirus outbreak as it could worsen the situation by depriving those who might need them. Despite this, panic-buying of these products in Dhaka has been triggered by news of the first confirmed coronavirus cases in the country. Across the capital, several pharmacies and superstores have been facing a shortage of masks, antiseptic liquids and sanitisers since Sunday afternoon. The demand for tissue papers has also almost doubled overnight, some retailers claimed. Many of the retail stores, super shops and pharmacies in Karwan Bazar, M

By Daily Star
March 10, 2020

MH17 trial in Malaysia begins today

It was reported that MH17 was shot down by a BUK missile while flying over the conflict-hit eastern Ukraine. The trial will begin today. All eyes will be on the District Court of The Hague at the Schiphol Judicial Complex (JCS) in Badhoevedorp as the criminal proceeding against four men accused of shooting down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 begins. It was reported that MH17 was shot down by a BUK missile while flying over the conflict-hit eastern Ukraine. All 298 people on board, comprising 43 Malaysians, 193 Dutch nationals and 27 Australians, were killed. Members of the Malaysian media here to cover the start of the trial were given a briefing by press secretary for the judge, Yolande Wijnnobel, on what to expect at the start of the much-awai

By The Star
March 9, 2020

OPINION: ‘Righteous’ women

So who is this ‘righteous’ woman that would never dare join Aurat Marchers? ‘TIS the season to be righteous, or so many prominent Pakistanis on TV and social media along with the religious right would have us believe. Pakistan suffers from hypocritical moral policing at the best of times — in homes, colleges and universities, places of religious worship, and the workplace — but the trigger for the current frenzy is the impending Aurat Marches in many cities of the country. Given that these marches only began three years ago, one can only marvel at how rapidly they have gotten under the proverbial skin of their highly agitated opponents. Enough has been said and written about the wider context of the marches and why they threaten the

By ANN Members
March 6, 2020

Umrah pilgrimage suspended for Saudi citizens and residents

Besides Saudi Arabia’s step of suspending umrah pilgrimage, several major gatherings around the world have also been cancelled or postponed. Public events across the world are being curbed to limit the spread of the coronavirus, as the number of infections crossed 94,000 globally. In an unprecedented move, Saudi Arabia has suspended umrah religious pilgrimage for its citizens and residents to the two holy cities of Mecca and Medina, saying it wanted to prevent the virus from spreading through the “intense flow” of crowds to the holy sites. The measures ordered yesterday expanded on restrictions applied last week to Muslims coming from abroad making the same religious pilgrimage and to other incoming tourists. Saudi Arabia has on

By The Straits Times
March 5, 2020