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JD.com’s health care subsidiary to drive telemedicine in China with new family-friendly service

JD Health enables a family of up to eight people to get their health records preserved in its system, while providing all members with remote access to doctors.

Image credit to N509FZ on Wikimedia Commons.

JD Health, e-commerce giant JD.com’s health care subsidiary, aims to redefine the standard for telemedicine in China through a new service that provides whole families with remote access to general practitioners.

Its new JD Family Doctor service enables a family of up to eight people to get their health records preserved in its system after one member signs up. The whole family also gets access to 24-hour online consultation services—using text, photographs, video or voice calls—provided by general practitioners.

“I hope we can set a new standard in the industry,” said Xin Lijun, chief executive of JD Health, at a press conference launching the service on Tuesday in Beijing. The aim of the new service is to “not let users move around medical resources, but let resources move around users”, he said.

“JD Family Doctor will be closely integrated with the country’s primary health care system,” Xin said without elaborating. He added that the personalized approach of the service, referring to doctors’ access to relevant family medical records, would help “improve the entire family doctor experience in China.”

That new approach to telemedicine represents how China’s private sector is seizing the enormous opportunity to help shape the country’s heath care market, which is projected to be worth RMB 16 trillion (USD 2.3 trillion) by 2030.

In the last round of reforms Beijing carried out about a decade ago, it targeted universal health insurance coverage and the provision of affordable health care services for all by this year. The coronavirus pandemic drew in online medical service providers to fill some of the gaps left behind by the last round of reforms—and it is these enterprises that China is expected to call upon, as it strengthens the national health care infrastructure over the coming decade.

A service for 50 million families

Remote access to health services, from consultations to the sales of medical products, is the private sector’s entry point into China’s fast-expanding health tech market, especially in a country with the world’s largest population of smartphone users.

JD Family Doctor expects to serve about 50 million families over the next five years, according to Xin.

For users with mild or chronic conditions, doctors can be accessed within seconds on the platform, according to JD Health. Users with complex conditions can find leading doctors in various fields through the platform, either for online consultation or to make an offline appointment.

Competition, however, is expected to intensify over the years, as JD Health takes on more platforms that connect doctors with patients in China. These include the likes of Ping An Healthcare & Technology, a unit of China’s largest insurer Ping An, as well as Tencent Trusted Doctors from Tencent Holdings.

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Spun off from JD.com in May last year, JD Health was ranked as the most valuable among 22 new unicorns—start-ups valued at more than USD 1 billion—that emerged in China in 2019. The company was the youngest unicorn—at 15 months old with a USD 7 billion valuation—listed in this year’s edition of the Hurun Global Unicorn Index.

On Monday, JD Health said it raised more than USD 830 million from private equity firm Hillhouse Capital Group in its Series B preferred share financing, the proceeds of which will be used to strengthen its pharmacy supply chain operations.

Parent JD.com on Monday reported a 33.8% increase in second-quarter revenue to RMB 201.1 billion, ahead of the RMB 190.7 billion consensus from a Bloomberg poll of analysts’ estimates.

This article was originally published by the South China Morning Post.