Major hospitals in southern China’s Guangdong province have set up Internet hospitals from which doctors can consult, diagnose, recommend treatments and facilitate the delivery of drugs to patients.
Internet hospitals have helped reduce outpatient services at major hospitals in the province caused by the COVID-19 epidemic, according to a statement released by the Guangdong Provincial Health Commission.
“The Internet hospitals established by major hospitals in Guangdong are equivalent to the addition of six large or medium-sized hospitals,” the statement said.
They played an important role in reducing the risk of cross-contamination and helped control and prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus in the state, the statement said.
With a population of over 126 million, Guangdong is the most populous province in China.
“Residents can choose the internet version of their local hospitals from their homes to receive health consultation, medical treatment and medicine delivery services after logging into the Yuejiantong WeChat mini-app,” the statement said.
More than 160 major hospitals in the province have set up their Internet hospitals in Yuejiang, which was established by the Guangdong Health Commission, it said.
In addition to general hospitals, specialty hospitals such as traditional Chinese medicine, women’s and children’s, dermatology, and oncology hospitals have established Internet hospitals.
Statistics from the commission showed that internet hospitals in Guangdong had 1.25 million patient visits from Dec. 12 to 31, with an average of 62,400 per day.
Zhou Qirou, a senior doctor at the Second Guangdong Provincial General Hospital, said his internet hospital has played a vital role in the fight against the COVID-19 epidemic in Guangzhou, the provincial capital, in recent months.
Zhou said the Internet Hospital was admitting more than 1,000 patients a day when Guangzhou’s Haizhou district was on lockdown due to the outbreak in October and November.
More than 80 percent of patients at Internet hospitals seek medical care to treat chronic conditions, including high blood pressure and diabetes, he said.
In order to better serve patients, the internet hospital has updated its online platform and medical facilities, and each department of the hospital is required to appoint at least one doctor on duty online to treat patients every day.
Zhou said he believes internet hospitals will continue to grow in the coming months as both the central and state governments have introduced a number of policies and measures to support them.
Major hospitals in Guangzhou have also recently seen an increase in the number of Internet hospital patients.
Doctors working at the Zhujiang Hospital Internet Hospital of Southern Medical University made more than 23,620 patient visits in December. More than 500 medical experts and senior doctors from 50 departments have seen patients online in the past months.
Sun Yat-Sen University’s First Affiliated Hospital Internet Hospital received 53,867 patient visits between December 1 and January 3. In addition, the Internet Hospital of Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hospital, which is also affiliated with the university, has received some visits. 3000 patient visits since December 11.
More than 500 doctors from Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hospital have been working with patients online in recent months.
In a statement, Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hospital noted that Internet hospitals have become an important additional tool for medical centers.