Visiting a hospital doctor can be a complicated business in China with onerous paperwork and lengthy queues before and after consultations, not to mention the long lines of people who are waiting to pay fees for registration, testing and treatment.
Patients in China used to have to set aside at least half a day for visiting a hospital doctor, but Tencent Healthcare has now launched a digital card, which is minimising red tape and saving patients 45 minutes per hospital visit on average.
Dr Alex Ng, Vice President of Tencent Healthcare, presented the closing keynote speech at this week’s HIMSS21 APAC Conference where he said the new digital card – which has been launched in twenty Chinese provinces – will help save valuable time, as well as offer e-health insurance. He added that the card can swiftly confirm the COVID-19 status of cardholders, enabling them to travel if they are clear of the virus.
“It is not uncommon for patients in China to spend hours and hours waiting for a few minutes of consultation or a few minutes of medical testing. And what is more frustrating, is that patients used to have to create a different ID at different hospitals because they issued no common ID across institutions within China,” said Dr Ng.
According to Dr Ng, elderly patients with chronic diseases, who were scheduled to see cardiologists in one hospital and respiratory specialists in another, had to present different ID cards in different hospitals, which was “a hassle”, especially if they lost their wallets.
The new card provides a unique ID that is electronic, which enables patients to use a single card in all hospitals that sign up to the program. Ng commented: “Once you are actually at the hospitals, rather than filling out complicated forms and verifying your credentials, all you need to do is rock up to the check-in station and scan your card and they will know you are here, and you are supposed to see the doctor in that speciality, and you can go line up.”
Medical e-health insurance is also being offered with the digital ID card. This is another form of ID, allowing patients to use medical insurance payment in all hospital settings and pharmacies as well. The unique ID can then be linked to the healthcare provisions’ system, which is managed by the National Health Commission, and the payment system is managed by the Medical Security Bureau.
Ng went on to say that the electronic healthcare card has also proven useful in the pandemic as test results and vaccination records can also be linked to the healthcare card: “If you have a COVID test that is negative in the last seven days, then you can use it for travelling and get a green card.”