Chinese e-commerce ready to conquer the health market

With a value of 122.6 billion dollars in 2017, which in 2022 will reach a figure of 145 and 175 billion dollars, the Chinese pharmaceutical market was the second largest in the world, after the US.
A huge development that has not gone unnoticed by Alibaba, the Chinese colossus of e-commerce, who last June after signing an agreement with the German pharmaceutical company Merck for the sale of drugs online, now aims to explore and expand new models sales, thereby improving economic accessibility to health care and using digital technologies to transform the lives of 40 million patients in China by 2025.

But the real breakthrough will come from WeDoctor, a company founded in 2010 by Jerry Liao Jieyuan, an artificial intelligence guru, which operates with four main units focused on healthcare, cloud, insurance and pharmaceuticals; on its platform there are currently more than 2,700 hospitals, 240 thousand doctors, 15 thousand pharmacies, and every month there is something like 27 million users of the 160 million actually registered.

In other words, a digital behemoth, which in 2016 had a turnover of about 183 million dollars and which, thanks to the machine-learming algorithms, maximized the analysis of the data collected by this gigantic community to transform it into sales opportunities, for the producers of drugs and not only. Once the active user on WeDoctor is profiled, they trigger ads for treatments, notices on food supplements, nutritional advice, and insurance policy promotions and so on.

WeDoctor, in short, would like to get where even realities like Alibaba and Baidu have succeeded, and that is to change the rules of the game of a sector that clearly suffers from the bureaucratic and organizational delays of government clinics. To achieve the goal, WeDoctor focuses on patient data exploiting the current regulatory holes of Chinese law to protect citizens’ privacy.

“AI won’t replace doctors but it will become an important tool for doctors and help improve their efficiency and accuracy,” Liao, also a co-founder of speech-recognition specialist iFlytek Co., said in an written response to questions. “Through the internet and AI, China’s health care services will improve significantly in the next five to 10 years.”