Healthcare

China’s WeDoctor Wants To Disrupt Healthcare Too

It can be justifiably easy to focus on Amazon when it comes to disruptions in healthcare. But ignoring the role of a Chinese company called WeDoctor would border on the unwise.

In large part, that’s because, according to a report this week in Bloomberg, WeDoctor can harness enough data to produce those personalized healthcare ads for online consumers — the types of marketing messages that can make patients wonder how the internet knows so much about them. And the company has the backing of Tencent Holdings. Besides that, WeDoctor has a serious artificial intelligence bent, given that it was founded by “artificial intelligence maven Jerry Liao Jieyuan in 2010,” the report said.

The company’s goals reportedly are grand.

“Once a scrappy startup that helped people book doctors, it’s grown into an outfit valued at $5.5 billion that operates online follow-up consultations, drug prescriptions and actual clinics staffed by physicians,” Bloomberg said. “It’s building AI to parse data, helping detect ailments like cervical cancer. It sells an Amazon Echo-like $600 speaker for the home that can link to fitness wearables and doubles as a doctors’ hotline.”

WeDoctor is headed toward an initial public offering in 2019. It has already raised $500 million from investors, a group that includes AIA Group, an insurance company. One of the main questions facing the company, besides how it will grow and add services, is how many consumers might pay a premium to potentially have WeDoctor help them cut through the “red tape and wait times at government clinics.”

The increasing awareness of WeDoctor comes as other digital healthcare endeavors gain steam. For instance, well-regarded surgeon and author Atul Gawande was recently named CEO of the new healthcare company formed by Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase. The joint venture’s initial focus will be on using technology to provide U.S. employees and their families with easier, high-quality transparent healthcare at a reasonable cost.

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