Online medicine aims to close China’s urban-rural health care gap

For Li Yan, visiting a doctor used to mean a costly and time-consuming trip to the nearest city hospital, over 150 kilometers away from his home in Hongjingzi village in the northwestern Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.

Now, however, the farmer can see an expert from one of Beijing’s top medical facilities at the local county hospital via webcam, and send medical scans over the internet. “I never realized I could see a Beijing specialist at the door of my own home!” Li crowed to the People’s Daily after getting a personalized treatment plan for Hunter’s Syndrome.

To alleviate the chronic problem of uneven distribution in China’s health care system, the government, tech companies, and hospitals have begun turning to technology. According to China’s National Bureau of Statistics, illness is the most common cause of poverty in the country, impoverishing around 30 million people in China in 2015.

This is subscriber exclusive content

Become a subscriber to continue reading

Digital Diagnoses is a story from our issue, “Contagion.” To read the entire issue, become a subscriber and receive the full magazine. Alternatively, you can purchase the digital version from the App Store.


author Sam Davies

Sam Davies is the deputy managing editor at The World of Chinese. He writes mainly about society, sport, and culture, with his pieces touching on diverse topics from the future of China’s ski industry to efforts to prevent juvenile crime.

Related Articles