Guangdong Provincial People’s Hospital’s Guo Huiming has a prescription for what ails China’s medical services: 5G technology, reports Xinhuanet.
80 percent of China’s medical assets and resources are concentrated in the big cities on their east coast: e.g. Beijing, Shanghai, etc., and 80 percent of these are large, public hospitals. They are crowded places where China’s rapidly middle class flood to see the best doctors and, as Xinhuanet reports, “overcrowding the hospitals and sometimes straining doctor-patient relations.”
Dr. Gou believes technology is a fundamental key to solving the problem. He knows that the Chinese healthcare establishment must allow more patients to receive high-quality treatments at local clinics near their homes. Gou is a big time techie fan: he wears an Apple Watch and speaks Cantonese to Siri on his iPhone and plays vinyl on a Sony turntable in his office. TrialSite News couldn’t think of a cooler doctor to be involved with the transformation of China’s healthcare system.
Gou’s healthcare organization utilizes state of the heart technologies in their cardiac surgery unit where Gou works. He notes “about 70 percent of my patients are outside of Guangzhou.” For patients living in outlying rural areas (and there are many), access to Dr. Gou can be very difficult. Hospital President Yu Xueqing stated “some unfortunately die on the way [to the hospital].”
5G Opens the Door to New Health Delivery Channels
5G creates the conditions that technologies such as telemedicine can be employed pervasively to conduct health care in new ways. Prior to 5G, technology was not reliable enough. Post 5G, a remote surgery is now not only possible but feasible.
Services are already improving. For example, People’s Hospital of Gaozhou performs more than 100 minimally invasive surgeries last year—with new remote surgery offerings they can begin to set up satellite offices but conduct the actual surgery in a central location on China’s’ eastern coast.
Collaboration between the large, elite hospitals of the eastern coast and western regional hospitals and clinics takes off with 5G. The Xinhuanet article insets a number of relevant examples. From knowledge transfer, quality and staff training to collaborative procedures and surgeries, the Chinese 5G infrastructure is helping to transform the Chinese health system.
Clinical Trials Thoughts
This will have a profound impact on clinical trials. There are still large numbers of prospective trial participants living outside of big cities. Already in the U.S., companies such as Science 37 are mobilizing telehealth platforms to help transition clinical trials from site-centric to patient-centric trials. Western commercial drug sponsors should be aware that the Chinese health infrastructure is rapidly modernizing with 5G and this represents opportunity (and trouble if your competitors are there first).