The Chinese government has been in the process of modernizing its telemedicine law and policy and associated infrastructure for nearly 2 years now, to support broad, domestic application of telemedicine. We outline one of the most recent developments below.

On June 21, 2016, the State Council of China, China’s highest executive body, issued Guiding Opinions on Promoting and Regulating Healthcare Big-Data Applications and Developments [国务院办公厅关于促进和规范健康医疗大数据应用发展的指导意见] (“Guidance”), which provides a roadmap of what China plans to achieve by 2020 in modernizing China’s health care industry with information technology.

Among the development targets, the Guidance states that, by the end of 2017, national and provincial population health information platforms must be interconnected to share health care data and resources among different agencies and sectors. By 2020, an open and multi-tiered national health care information application platforms should be completed which should allow sharing of health care data and resources from different geographical regions. In addition, digitalization of health records and health cards for urban and rural residents should be substantially completed by 2020.

To archive these development targets, the Guidance further highlighted fourteen core tasks, including “full establishment of a telemedicine application system.” Specifically, the Guidance calls for implementation of cloud-based services, construction of health care service integration platforms to provide remote consultation, remote video, remote pathology, and ECG remote diagnostic services, and optimization of mechanisms for mutual-validation and sharing of test results.

The Guidance represents another step forward taken by the Chinese government to promote and regulate a modernized and digitalized health care industry, and more specifically to put in place key infrastructure and practices necessary for application of telemedicine.

What’s Next: Opportunities and Risks

These developments present significant opportunities for foreign health care providers and other investors. The expansion of opportunities also presents risks for foreign investors, particularly as an increasing array of potential partners in this sector in China offer opportunities to U.S. health care industry representatives for investment and patient services. We recount these and other observations from our work advising U.S. health care providers in the China market in our blog series available here.