As Chinese medical tourists multiply, online healthcare platform Chunyu turns matchmaker
Chunyu, China’s No 1 online healthcare platform, has launched a cross-border service platform at a time when more Chinese medical tourists are heading to the US, Japan and South Korea for everything from heart transplants to Botox and rhinoplasty.
In 2014, over 56,000 Chinese visited Korea to have cosmetic surgery, marking a 350 per cent climb from 2013, the China aesthetics & Plastic Surgery Association said.
Although the service has officially been launched, patients will not be able to use Chunyu’s service until August 15, the company said.
From that date onwards, it will enable them to consult directly with doctors on foreign shores or book surgery with just a few clicks of the mouse or taps on their mobile touchscreen.
The US is the top destination for Chinese frustrated by the limitations of their country’s healthcare system. Most Chinese medical tourists go overseas for cancer treatments or plastic surgery, according to local media reports.
The country’s cross-border healthcare market hit US$100 billion last year and is growing by a fifth each year, industry data show.
It was once covered by offline agencies offering package deals. But online healthcare has flourished in the US, courtesy of companies like Zocdoc and WellDoc, and other developed markets in the last decade.
Beijing-based Chunyu has enabled more than 73 million users to consult Chinese doctors online since it was founded four years ago, it said. It claims that as demand has grown, it now sees 160,000 consultations a day.
As the new platform remains embryonic in form and will not offic, it does not offer tremendous choice just yet.
It said it has signed up 6,000 doctors around the world who can be consulted with, and is preparing a dozen package deals in various countries including Thailand and Japan.
These deals usually include accommodation, flights and other collateral expenses, with prices ranging from 5,000 yuan (US$800) for a health check-up in Korea to 150,000 yuan for in-vitro fertilisation in Thailand.
More Chinese internet giants are staking their claim to this industry.
Ali Health, a subsidiary of China’s e-commerce king Alibaba, sells medicine and food supplements online, while JK.com operates a virtual hospital where users can consult doctors and buy medicine. JK’s parent company is Ping An Insurance, one of China’s largest insurers.