Chengdu-headquartered Medlinker, a China-focused mobile platform for physicians, announced the close of an RMB 1b ($147m) Series D financing round, bringing aggregate funding to date close to $247.5m.
Backers of this fundraising include the likes of CIC Zhongcai, Sequoia Capital, and China Renaissance, with the latter being the exclusive financial advisor. Prior to this, it had raised $60m in a China Electronics Corporation (CEC) led Series C round in December 2017, with other investors such as Tencent, Sequoia Capital & China Renaissance.
The firm also maintains a strategic partnership with CEC meant to initiate new projects that enhance connectivity between patients with doctors and insurers.
Earlier in July, Beijing-based medtech startup LinkDoc also closed an RMB 1-billion ($151m) Series D round backed by the China Investment Corporation.
This new investment in Medlinker comes at a time when new medical device regulations in China expected to see more medtech firms invest more in building and maintaining an effective quality management system to ensure continuous post-approval compliance.
Founded in 2014, Medlinker’s mobile app functions as an academic and practice platform connecting doctors and enabling physicians to communicate, find contacts & discuss treatment measures for specific cases. A WeChat-like group chat feature facilitates the exchange of information among physicians on the platform.
Medlink users have to register with their real name, including personal information such as their contacts, hospitals that they work in and job titles. All relevant certificates have to be uploaded and a two-factor authentication is being carried out to ensure that doctors on-board are licensed and responsible. Patients using the platform can book appointments with doctors.
In an official statement issued by Chengdu Tianfu Software Park (CDHT) in April 2017, which cited information from Greatwall Strategy Consultants, it indicates that Medlinker’s valuation is estimated at close to RMB 5 billion, making it one of a wave of ‘potential unicorns’ in China.
In a statement, Wang Shirui, CEO of Medlinker, credited this rapid growth to the business environment of CDHT, saying, “As we started a business in the Park from the ground up, the Chengdu Hi-tech zone has offered many timely supports, including rent reduction or exemption.”
By 2015, the company claimed to have a registered user base of 100,000 and in 2017 posted that it had more than 430,000 verified doctors on its platform. As at July 2018, the company claims this figure is in excess of 500,000.
This phenomenal push to revolutionize China’s burgeoning medical industry with technology could be, in part, due to the under-usage of primary care services in China, leaving hospitals to bear the brunt of treating patients.
China only provides 2.22 doctors and assisting physicians for every 1,000 people, trailing the OECD’s average of 3.19 doctors for the same number of people. This undersupply of doctors leads to a prolonged and delayed process for patients, in terms of their access to doctors at hospitals.