What To Know
- China has unveiled a number of ambitious cloud initiatives intended to address the challenges of an aging population facing an increased threat of chronic disease while the national physician shortage looms
- Unique opportunity as one million Chinese enterprises are poised to the join the cloud by 2020 (Ministry of Industry and Information Technology) while cloud sales are positioned to grow from 5% to 20% of the Chinese IT market (CBR, 2018).
- Interoperable healthcare IT solutions and high-value healthcare services–particularly, diagnostic imaging services–gain traction in China’s 5-year plan
We closed out 2018 at Interop & Cloud Connect China | Ningbo where Florent Saint-Clair presented on behalf of Dicom Systems, Inc on the long-term and immediate value hospitals gain by utilizing the cloud. Although Ningbo boasts only 8 million inhabitants (China’s population is nearing 1.4 billion), the emerging Smart City is at the forefront of IT innovation, which is why UBM selected the Chinese sub-province as an example of public/private collaboration for sharing vital healthcare information between hospitals. Dicom Systems was invited to present on our case studies of successfully connecting hospital sites via the cloud while building an infrastructure that would leverage the accelerated compute power for future innovation and AI algorithm development. Our engagement in China as HIT thought leaders dates back to 2016 when Florent was first invited to present at Cloud CIO China. As a proponent of the healthcare cloud, Dicom Systems has a growing interest in China’s accelerated growth–and we believe it should be on everyone’s radar.
Five Facts to Know About Cloud Innovation in China
#1 Healthy China Initiative
About 95% of the population has at least some form of healthcare coverage. However, public healthcare only covers 50% of costs, and China has been pushing to move it to around 70% with the “Healthy China 2020 Initiative.” The demand for healthcare has turned China into a powerhouse market for healthcare vendors. China itself is pushing to invest in strong health companies, especially domestically, while also developing their own research into solutions on providing healthcare for an aging population. Calls by Beijing to increase access to healthcare coverage while reducing cost barriers has brought on a significant increase in investments and the push for innovation domestically. Cloud computing, telemedicine, artificial intelligence, and the substantial proliferation of diagnostic imaging are among the areas of focus.
#2 Expansion of Alibaba Cloud
China’s cloud computing growth has been robust, especially due to the success of the famous, homegrown e-commerce firm Alibaba Group. The cloud division of Alibaba, Aliyun, reported revenue growth of $710 million in 2018, up 93% YOY from 2017. Their focus on scale and dominating the Chinese market have transformed them into the fastest growing cloud business worldwide. In addition, Alibaba has become the second largest cloud provider in the Asia Pacific behind only Amazon Web Services. According to CNBC, “Alibaba is also helping Chinese companies that want to expand abroad and also increasingly winning business from large customers elsewhere that are looking to crack the China market, which has long been a challenge for outsiders.”
#3 Doctor Shortage
According to the World Health Organization, there are 1.8 doctors for 1,000 people in China. The motivation for artificial intelligence growth and development could, in part, be explained by doctor shortages. Physicians report the need to automate some of their more repetitive work, and increase their availability, productivity, and workflow.
#4 Paving The Way for Telehealth Adoption
Early results from telehealth and mhealth initiatives have compelled vendors to rethink their direction after the first wave of Chinese consumer-facing apps received a mixed reception: many failed to include physicians, make monetization transparent, and successfully transition trust from hospitals to technology interfaces. In 2017, Shanghai Century Hengkang Medical (Consulting), a government-backed telemedicine organization, announced it would be launching a new online platform for hospitals that would enable interoperability by allowing for data storage and retrieval, and the ability to share information with other hospitals on the platform. According to a McKinsey study, digitization could reshape China’s healthcare system with the use of AI and other technologies, and by 2030, impact up to 45% of revenue within the country’s health care industry.
#5 Growth in Utilization of Diagnostic Imaging
China has spent $279 billion USD on research and development in 2017, a growth of about 14.4% reported CNBC. China is expected to spend one trillion USD on healthcare, which will account for about 7% of their total GDP (Reuters). Diagnostic imaging services are expected to take part in that share, with an expected increase in sales. China is dealing with an aging and rising population due to the implementation and abolishment of the one-child policy, respectively, setting the stage for an increase in the number of patients requiring high-value medical services such MRIs and CTs. According to GlobalData Healthcare, “Diagnostic imaging devices such as MRI or PET systems require specialized set-ups, including safety mechanisms for the machines and workflow set-ups for radiologists.” A service previously accessible by comprehensive, Tier 3 hospitals, China has a 5-year plan dedicated to providing imaging technology for rural hospitals.
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Read about the Unifier in action in emerging markets: Dicom Systems Installs First Enterprise Imaging Platform in Kilimanjaro, Supports Rural Health
Photos provided courtesy of Florent Saint-Clair. Additional research provided by Kyle Sung.