By Nina Deka, Senior Research Analyst, ROBO Global
The National Healthcare Security Administration of China issued its anticipated guidelines on pricing and insurance coverage for internet medical services, marking a significant milestone for telemedicine adoption in China. This news is in line with our view that global telehealth adoption is accelerating, and is a positive catalyst for the ROBO Global Healthcare Technology and Innovation Index (HTEC). Ping An Healthcare and Technology Company, a member of HTEC, is the market leader for telemedicine services in China, and well positioned for this trend.
New reimbursement policies should accelerate telemedicine adoption
The NHSA is a national agency in China that oversees state-backed health insurance plans. It recently issued new guidelines that specify what type of online medical services are considered legally reimbursable, such as consultations through which a doctor can diagnose and prescribe treatment for certain acute or chronic illnesses. The guidelines also require local governments to coordinate reimbursement policies within the scope of their responsibility. This means that local governments will begin to provide reimbursement coverage for internet medical services, such as those provided by Ping An (e.g. medical consults, diagnosis, prescription drug delivery). We expect local governments to gradually enact new policies over time, and as each region goes live, it will accelerate adoption for telemedicine among its providers. The provider value proposition is clear. They will not only get paid for online visits, but they will also be able to expand their reach, particularly to patients who live in rural areas.
Ping An is particularly well positioned for this trend
We recently discussed telemedicine and the growth we’re seeing with US-based Teladoc, another member of the HTEC Index. The need for better healthcare access is a global issue, and China is another example of a market that sees telemedicine as a solution. Ping An is a market leader in China and is already well-positioned for this trend. The company has 289 million registered users, and conducts 656,000 medical consultations per day. Ping An also has a license to operate in three local governments, and is currently in discussions with more. It has also partnered with 50 hospitals across China to jointly construct internet hospitals. We believe that as the reimbursement environment improves, demand for Ping An’s services will increase, and growth could further accelerate.
Ping An is a one-stop portal to the entire healthcare ecosystem
Ping An uses an AI-assisted integrated technology platform, an in-house medical team, and a network of healthcare providers to provide online medical services to patients in the family doctor and consumer markets. It also has a Health Mall that sells medicine, supplements, and medical devices. Beyond “sick care,” Ping An also offers personalized wellness programs.
AI Doctor is at the core of Ping An’s platform
Ping An recently showcased nine AI-driven products at the 2019 World AI Conference. The one that got the most attention was AI Doctor, which utilizes artificial intelligence to assist the company’s physicians with diagnosis. It covers over 3,000 diseases, and is continuously trained with 530 million consultation records. The system doesn’t replace doctors. It actually improves the speed and efficiency of their diagnostic process. In addition to Ping An’s own medical team, 150 hospital customers are using AI Doctor today.