On April 21, 2016, China's highest executive body, the State
Council of People's Republic of China ("PRC"),
circulated a Key Work Plan for Deepening the Medical and Health
Care System Reform in 2016 ("2016 Work Plan") to
highlight key tasks for its ministries and departments as well as
provincial-level governments to deepen medical reform in 2016. Such
key tasks include speeding up the establishment of a hierarchical
medical treatment system and promoting the use of health care and
medical big data in certain mature regions and industries as
To establish a hierarchical medical treatment system, patients with
different needs will be directed to hospitals at different levels
as opposed to one prestigious hospital. This preliminary ranking
process in the 2016 Work Plan is widely viewed as a win for the
digital health and telemedicine industry. The 2016 Work Plan is
also expressly aimed at driving online medical appointment payment
systems and developing telemedicine and telepharmaceutical
Chinese local governments are anticipated to provide follow-up
guidance to implement the 2016 Work Plan. On May 16, 2016, the
Shanghai government held a meeting regarding further medical and
health care system reform, and Yang Xiong, the mayor of Shanghai,
pointed out at this meeting that the government will embrace the
"internet plus medical treatment" modalities promoted by
the 2016 Work Plan.
Some pioneering industrial players have already made movements in
this regard. For example, on December 7, 2015, the first online
hospital in China was incorporated in Wuzhen, Zhejiang Province,
and its services include making appointments with a doctor online,
providing telemedical treatment, and issuing e-prescriptions. On
January 18, 2016, Ali Health (a subsidiary of the Alibaba Group)
entered into a cooperation agreement with a hospital in Wuhan,
Hubei Province, under which they will establish a virtual hospital
to conduct medical treatment, prescribe medicines, and sell and
even deliver drugs and therapies. Additionally, Tencent, a leading
Chinese internet service company, is also working on an online
platform that provides integrated physician information to assist
patients in making well-informed decisions when choosing
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What happens if a patient, particularly a mental health patient,.
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