E-healthcare is Booming
China’s online healthcare sector is set to see new development opportunities as the COVID-19 pandemic has boosted demand for internet-based healthcare platforms, industry experts said.
Such platforms provide online health and telemedicine services to reduce the burden on hospitals.
DXY, a leading digital healthcare technology company in China, is speeding up its layout across both upstream and downstream, to cover doctors, pharmaceutical enterprises, medical institutions, consumer products companies, as well as online consultation services for the public.
Founded in 2000, DXY boasts about 5.5 million professional users, among whom 2 million are registered doctors, or about 70 percent of the total nationwide. It provides academic discussions, continuing medical education and job recruitment services for medical professionals.
According to the National Health Commission, the “internet plus medical and healthcare” initiative spawned policies that promoted online diagnosis and treatment, internet hospitals and telemedical services.
Other healthcare platforms have created special services where people can interact with doctors online about their symptoms or simply receive more details about preventive measures during the outbreak.
User inquiries at Haodf, which owns and operates an online healthcare community platform that helps patients find doctors, rose by 60 times between February and March.
New users of Ping An Good Doctor, another healthcare platform, surged by a staggering 900 percent. And, between December 2019 and January 2020, online consultations rose by a whopping 800 percent on a yearly basis.
A report by Analysys, a Beijing-based internet consultancy, said revenue of China’s online healthcare industry reached 133.6 billion yuan ($20.5 billion) in 2019, up from 98.5 billion yuan in 2011.
The figure for 2020 will likely be about 200 billion yuan, up some 47 percent, due to the pandemic, the consultancy predicted.
Luo Zhenyu, founder of Dedao, a lifelong learning platform, quenched people’s thirst for insights, forecasts, estimates and predictions with a four-hour-long New Year’s Eve speech in Wuhan, capital of Hubei province, which was hard hit by the COVID-19 outbreak.
The New Year’s Eve speech has become something of a tradition. Titled “Time’s Friend”, the annual event was the sixth in a row, and is one of Dedao’s iconic offerings to keep users “hooked” to the platform.
Dedao started out as an obscure media account, where Luo repackaged complex historical, philosophical or economic topics into a daily 60-second voice message and weekly one-hour video lectures. Soon, they all morphed into a comprehensive knowledge-sharing portal where people pay for a torrent of classes, books and offline events.
Platforms such as Dedao have mushroomed on the back of a trend of people paying for online content they deem useful or valuable.
Data from iResearch forecast the education industry will expand to 4 trillion yuan ($619.2 billion) in 2023. The lifelong education sector will expand quickly as 5G telecom technology can provide educators with an avenue of new possibilities, upgrading e-learning systems, and brightening prospects for the sector.
Cross-border e-commerce is emerging as a new engine driving trade and investment and staving off the impact from COVID-19 on economic activity between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, experts said.
“E-commerce is becoming increasingly important to economic activity as COVID-19 poses great challenges to offline businesses and the current distribution network within the region,” said Xu Ningning, executive president of the China-ASEAN Business Council.
According to a report by market research firm Bain & Co, the number of online shoppers in Southeast Asian nations is expected to double to 310 million in 2020, compared to a year earlier. A report co-released by Google and Temasek Holdings Private Ltd expects the e-commerce market in Southeast Asia will reach $153 billion by 2025.
In recent years, major Chinese e-commerce companies have stepped up investments in e-commerce and e-payment companies in ASEAN member states to explore the area’s market potential. E-commerce giants in ASEAN member states also increased efforts to expand their footprint in the Chinese market.
Alibaba Group Holding Ltd has so far invested about 4 billion yuan ($620 million) in Southeast Asian e-commerce platform Lazada. Lazada CEO James Chang said that during last year’s Singles Day shopping gala, the platform saw about 40 million users visit their app and over 400,000 online sellers make transactions.
Last year, Lazada set up a cross-border e-commerce service center in Nanning, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, aiming at boosting e-commerce and related trade and investment activities between China and ASEAN member states. The service center has incubated over 400 small and medium-sized e-commerce companies and provided livestreaming product selling services to more than 6,000 stores.
Several Southeast Asian brands have entered China’s market and gained popularity on Alibaba’s e-commerce platform Tmall. For example, Philippine cosmetic brand Sunnies Face had seen its sales surge nearly 500 percent year-on-year during Singles Day last year. Singaporean snack brand Irvins also saw sales rise over 50 times on Nov 11, compared with average sales on non-festival days.
Another Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings Ltd also invested in Singapore-based Sea Ltd and became its largest shareholder with a 39.7 percent stake.
“Many business owners from ASEAN member states hold the view that strengthening cooperation with Chinese companies will help generate new revenue in the post-pandemic era, and they expect higher sales through transactions made on Chinese e-commerce platforms and through livestreaming e-commerce sales. Chinese tech companies are also seeking new growth points by expanding their footprints in the ASEAN market,” Xu said.