On June 21, 2016, the State Council issued the Guiding Opinions on Promoting and Regulating the Development of the Application of Healthcare Big Data (“Guiding Opinions“). The Guiding Opinions declare that healthcare big data is a fundamental, strategic national resource; recognize that its development will have a significant impact on healthcare and medical treatment; and formulate programmatic plans for development goals, key tasks, and an organizational framework. Given the Guiding Opinions’ embrace of digitization, the use of data, and information sharing, we expect that a foreseeable campaign to promote the development of big data in healthcare sector is ahead of us, and that we might see evolutionary or even revolutionary changes occur in the healthcare sector.

What is “big data in healthcare”?

Big data in healthcare refers to the aggregation of multiple aspects of healthcare-related information covering the full life-cycle of a large constituency of people, covering personal health, medical services, disease control and prevention, food safety, health preservation, among other things.

How do the Guiding Opinions affect China?

Experts commonly believe that this campaign will not only be a boon to the health industry of the country, bringing improvements to the current pattern of medical treatment, but will also accelerate the development of economy and society in China as a whole.

The public stands to benefit, as big data will significantly facilitate medical treatment activities of patients. Patients will be able to seek consultations on-line, make doctor appointments via Internet, and to pay bills through mobile devices, greatly increasing convenience and access to health care. And examination and test results will be mutually recognized among medical institutes in the future, facilitating collaboration and better accommodating patients who transfer institutions.

For businesses in this sector, this campaign signals a promising future for the development of Internet healthcare and medical treatment. The government will be collaborating with private entities closely, and encourage private investment in the areas of foundational works, application development and operations. As a newly emerging field, it is widely believed that big data in healthcare will become a new area that will stimulate China’s economic growth. Market participants who are able to grasp this opportunity will greatly benefit from it.

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