Citation, abstract and a comment from me below.
CITATION: Characteristics of Online Health Care Services From China's Largest Online Medical Platform: Cross-sectional Survey Study
Journal of Medical Internet Research. Jiang, Xuehan et al. 2020
BACKGROUND: Internet hospitals in China are in great demand due to limited and unevenly distributed health care resources, lack of family doctors, increased burdens of chronic diseases, and rapid growth of the aged population. The COVID-19 epidemic catalyzed the expansion of online health care services. In recent years, internet hospitals have been rapidly developed. Ping An Good Doctor is the largest, national online medical entry point in China and is a widely used platform providing online health care services.
OBJECTIVE: This study aims to give a comprehensive description of the characteristics of the online consultations and inquisitions in Ping An Good Doctor. The analyses tried to answer the following questions: (1) What are the characteristics of the consultations in Ping An Good Doctor in terms of department and disease profiles? (2) Who uses the online health services most frequently? and (3) How is the user experience of the online consultations of Ping An Good Doctor?
METHODS: A total of 35.3 million consultations and inquisitions over the course of 1 year were analyzed with respect to the distributions of departments and diseases, user profiles, and consulting behaviors.
CONCLUSIONS: The prevalence of internet hospitals, such as Ping An Good Doctor, illustrated the great demand for online health care services that can go beyond geographical limitations. Our analyses showed that nondisease-specific issues and moderate health problems were much more frequently consulted about than severe clinical conditions. This indicated that internet hospitals played the role of the family doctor, which helped to relieve the stress placed on offline hospitals and facilitated people's lives. In addition, good user experiences, especially regarding disease-related inquisitions, suggested that online health services can help solve health problems. With support from the government and acceptance by the public, online health care services could develop at a fast pace and greatly benefit people's daily lives.
COMMENT (NPW): The authors of this paper all worked for Ping An Healthcare Technologies, which may well have introduced bias. In contrast with the paper from India I shared earlier today (which showed 75% of telemedicine patients were men) this China study indicates that younger women are most likely to use the Ping An Good Doctor service.