Alipay is planning to launch an app to help patients of hospitals with everything from appointments to payments. The app would allow medical professionals to communicate with their patients and even rate doctors.
The Guangzhou Women and Children’s Medical Center has started a pilot program with Alipay to test these functions. There are several challenges for the company including on-boarding hospitals and dealing with insurance companies. Most Chinese use an insurance company when visiting a medical facility.
Hospitals have customized systems for reservations and sometimes more than one and this will require hard work from Alipay. However, given brand name recognition and economies of scale many industry players could have incentives to work with it. Indeed, Alipay has signed contracts with 40 information system providers, and two of those work with the biggest hospitals in the country. Alipay could work as a middleman between systems providers and hospitals.
Posts on Cunfuriji, a blog devoted health-related topics that shares its content with Caixin’s Chinese website, questioned that Alipay could have some conflict of interests. It showed that Alibaba bought a major stake in pharmaceutical data provider CITIC 21CN, being the first company in China to receive a license to sell drugs online.