Q&A with China’s online medical unicorn backed by Tencent

Starting as a platform providing registration services for patients, Guahao.com, now We Doctor Group, is a market leader in China’s online medical services sector. The group set up China’s first “online hospital” in Wuzhen, a southern town in Zhejiang province, in December 2015. It was valued at USD 1.5 billion last September after finishing a new round of financing worth USD 400 million. Tencent had previously led a USD 100 million Series C round of financing in the company. A spokesperson from We Doctor told AllChinaTech how the company stays competitive.

What were the milestones for you in growing the business?

Since we founded our company in 2010, over the past six years, we experienced three development stages. In the first stage, we chose registration services as our entry point. Our name was Guahao.com, or “registration” in English. We focused on providing online registration, consultation and guidance services for patients from 2010 to 2012. Since 2013, we’ve transferred all services that need to be handled by the service personnel in the hospital to our website and app.

In the second stage, we changed our name to We Doctor after we finished the round of financing in September 2015. We developed an “online medical group” that is an online organization where doctors from different areas, with different expertise, can communicate and cooperate with each other. More than 7,000 expert teams have been built.

In the third stage, we established China’s first online hospital, Wu.gov.cn, in December 2015 in Wuzhen, an Internet innovation and development pilot zone. In the online hospital, doctors can provide online diagnosis and treatment to patients, and senior doctors can provide remote consultation services to junior doctors at basic hospitals.

Our growth secret is that we keep “running fast”, or more accurately, “running fast towards the right direction”, by virtue of our sensitivity to the medical industry’s demands and market development.

Innovation is a major part of our core competitiveness. We keep innovating in our methods, technology and team management in order to meet the core demands of China’s medical and health businesses.

Screenshot from Guahao.com.

What’s your niche for grabbing market share?

What a patient needs is not simply registration, diagnosis and treatment, but all services in the medical service chain including hospital services, pharmaceuticals and insurance. After the three development stages, we integrated our resources in the hospital, pharmaceutical and insurance fields.

In terms of hospitals, we have our online hospital Wu.gov.cn. The hospital provides online medical services including diagnosis and remote consultation. As an open platform, our online hospital can be integrated with large hospitals so as to improve patients’ medical care experience and utilize high-quality medical resources. Additionally, we can help resolve the difficulties of hard access to and high cost of medical care services which are faced by most people in China.

As for pharmaceutical, we are entitled to pilot online e-prescription and we can deliver pharmaceuticals to patients. We have cooperated with pharmaceutical providers including SinoPharm Group and Jinxiang.com. In addition, we try to provide better medicine management services for users by cooperating with transnational medical companies including Pfizer and AstraZeneca.

From the aspect of insurance, we provide insurance services for patients and doctors on our platform through cooperation with Chinese renowned insurance companies like Taikang. Moreover, we have implemented an insurance plan, Accountable Care Organization (ACO), to follow the model of America’s medical group Kaiser Permanente so as to provide a comprehensive health insurance service for users. By now we’ve provided this service to two million users.

How different are you compared to other online medical services providers?

We established cooperation with major hospital and doctors, and our massive team allows us to provide remote medical services to a larger number of people. To  date, we have provided services for 500 million patients. You could say we have abundant medical resources.

In the medical ecosystem, we’ve positioned ourselves as an online platform. Through this platform, doctors can connect with patients and with other doctors and hospitals. We, as a platform providing basic services, are willing to cooperate with other medical service providers to solve the difficulties most people have in obtaining medical care services.

How do you view the online medical market in China?

China’s online medical market scale was RMB 1.86 billion (USD 286 million) in 2012 but it is expected to reach RMB 12.5 billion in 2017. The online medical industry has large potential.

At present, the online medical industry is still growing in China. There are few companies that have a mature business model. Any company that has a breakthrough business model, resource integration and ecosystem construction will take a lead role in the industry. Now, the business model we have is a pretty mature one. As the mobile medical model gains maturity and receives more incentives from the government, mobile medical service together with pharmaceuticals and medical equipment will be the “leading three services” in the medical industry.

Now, most medical companies including us have strong development momentum and provide many services at the same time including online medical care, wearable health products, medical equipment and pharmaceuticals. The online medical industry is expected to reach a scale of RMB trillions in 2020.

(Top photo from http://www.kanshangjie.com.)

AllTechAsia Staff

AllTechAsia is a startup media platform dedicated to providing the hottest news, data service and analysis on the tech and startup scene of Asian markets in English.

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