China’s mobile healthcare industry is now the hotspot for major investment opportunities, and close to 100 projects across a spectrum of medical fields have been set up since 2014. Montaigne Wang, an industry analyst at Topology, a division of TrendForce, said the competitive landscape of this industry will radically change with the entry of BAT (Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent). These three and other Internet heavyweights have considerable capital and extensive network platforms. Thus, they have a shot to become leaders of the emerging sector as their projects might rise above those of their competitors in the near future.
Tencent has recently made strategic investments on online medical information and services portals, such as Dingxiangyuan (also known as DXY) and Guahao.com. TrendForce expects Tencent will be working closely with these sites to connect patients with physicians and hospitals/clinics. This network will be able to more effectively coordinate the supply and demand of medical resources. People in the foreseeable future will be able to access Guahao.com, DXY, and other healthcare apps using their Tencent’s QQ or WeChat accounts. “With hundreds of millions of users on its social network platforms, Tencent has the chance to become the largest online medical service platform in China,” said Wang.
Alibaba’s investment strategy in China’s mobile healthcare industry is focused on Alipay’s “Future Hospital” program and online pharmacy. As of the end of this year’s January, more than 37 hospital in 14 provinces have joined Future Hospital. As a competing provider of mobile healthcare services, Future Hospital notably lags behind Tencent’s Guahao.com, which encompasses more than 900 major hospitals in China. However, Alibaba has a rock-solid, commanding position in the online pharmacy business. Its business-to-consumer site, Tmall.com (also known as Tian Mao), is currently the biggest e-commerce platform for pharmacies, covering more than 60% online drug retailers in China. Alibaba Health Information Technology is also actively searching for new collaborators in its expansion, and its team presently includes Guangzhou Pharmaceuticals Holdings, China CITIC Bank, and Shanghai Kingstar Winning Medical Information Technology.
Baidu has also enter the online healthcare market with its recent creation of a mobile healthcare division. This new unit will work with well-known hospitals in China to launch an appointment booking system and other services. Baidu’s existing health and medical services will also be consolidated under its mobile healthcare division. On the mobile front, the “Baidu Doctor App” lets people “find doctors, book doctors, and review doctors”. Using this business model, the app aims to become a trustworthy platform for both medical professionals and patients. As for health solutions, Baidu has established a China-based smart device brand known “dulife”. Products under this brand collect users’ personal health data, which will be later analyzed and used to provide solutions for a wide range of areas, such as fitness, beauty, sleep, and diet. TrendForce expects Baidu will claim strong positions in businesses concerning smart device platforms and cloud services with its mobile healthcare and wellness services.