China has leapfrogged ahead of other countries when it comes to digital health adoption, and there are important lessons to learn from the country’s experience, according to a new report from Royal Philips (NYSE:PHG).
Most Chinese health professionals — 94% — report using digital health technologies or mobile health apps, according to the Future Health Index (FHI) 2019 report that Philips announced today. The average was 78% across the 15 countries in the survey. In the U.S., it was 76%.
Saudi Arabia (85%) is also a forerunner when it comes to health providers using digital health, and India (88%) and Russia (81%) are also ahead in certain areas.
The survey included 15,000 individuals and more than 3,100 healthcare professionals.
China’s digital health leadership has created a $4.6 billion-a-year market for wearables, the world’s largest, with a projected annual growth rate of 3.7%, according to the Philips report.
Digital health technology appears to have some effect in China, too. Four-fifths of Chinese individuals in the survey reported contacting a health professional because of information received from digital health technology or mobile health apps; across all 15 countries it was less than half.
Among Chinese people in the survey who had seen a health professional over the past 12 months, 63% reported tracking key health indicators.
Other factors in the report also indicate that China is the digital health leader:
- China over the past five years has accounted for three-fifths of global investment and financing related to artificial intelligence, versus 29% for the U.S. The general population in China — along with Russia and Saudi Arabia — are also most likely to associate more accurate diagnosis with the use of AI in healthcare.
- About 44% of people in China say that, given the choice, they would prefer a consultation with their doctor remotely via a digital channel for non-urgent care, more than any other country.
Not everything about digital health in China is positive. More than a quarter of Chinese health professionals, for example, think their long-term job security is threatened by new advancements in healthcare technology, according to the report.