A Medical Revolution at Last! Meet China’s New Private Hospital Models and Resource-Sharing Healthcare Providers

A new type of healthcare provider in China has known a significant rise. These facilities are comparable to US-style medical malls, where various specialisms come together under one roof and resources can be shared efficiently, including the sharing of personnel and physicians from other hospitals or care units.

Two such hospital structures, i.e. the Medical Mall and the Tencent Hospital, their particular features and advantages will be introduced in detail in this article.

The ‘sharing-hospital’ is coming

Hospitals today are facing major challenges -and changes respectively- as governments recognize the need to reassess and reform the structure of their care provision.

Governments are pursuing opportunities and solutions e.g. through collaborations with private providers to fill public care gaps, and by altering traditional care models to address the new care-demands and trends of the population.

The Medical Mall in Hangzhou and the Tencent (Penguin) Hospital in Beijing are an exciting example of this change, and represent two of the most attractive sharing-hospitals in China. These two hospitals have many structural similarities and objectives, yet their business models are quite different.

  1. The Medical Mall (Hangzhou) is a multi-functional hospital, uniting different medical units/clinics on the same site, allowing maintenance overheads to be reduced; where medical resources and staff are shared and the duplication of procuring diagnostic equipment, or other more basic equipment, can be avoided.
  2. Tencent Hospital, or Penguin Hospital (Beijing) is being set up by Tencent Holdings, a Chinese internet giant, previously known for having managed an online healthcare consultation and appointment-facilitating platform named WeDoctor. The company used a penguin as their logo, and their new medical center is referred to (in China) as Penguin Hospital accordingly. This hospital will combine the existing online-service platform with offline clinics, providing customized medical care for patients.

The Medical Mall

The Medical Mall, launched by Quancheng International Medical Center, backed by several sector stakeholders, and in strong medical cooperation with the regional Sir Run Ru Shaw Hospital, opened in August (2017). It attracted the whole country’s attention.

The reputable Sir Run Ru Shaw Hospital provides a strong brand endorsement for the Medical Mall.

Medical Mall has a special location. It is located in the Hangzhou Tower (501 City Plaza), a popular shopping center in Hangzhou. The 1st to 8th floor is shopping area, and the 9th to 22th floor is occupied by the Medical Mall. In this way, consumers can combine shopping diversions with medical needs, eliminating the typical gloom and anxiety associated with clinics.

In the Medical Mall, there is a pharmacy and shared operating theaters, for all the medical units housed on the various floors. Services such as medical examinations, ultrasound tests and medical imaging are provided by a single, shared specialized unit within the building.

With this extensive sharing of medical resources, all the qualified clinics and doctors were able to set up their practices without having to invest substantially into basic infrastructures.

A group of high quality medical teams and clinics’ getting together will inevitably produce a certain aggregated effect; it will enhance its appeal for its consumers (patients).

Together with lower operating cost, the Medical Mall will affect a great impact on the traditional hospitals. The dominant status of massive (Chinese) general hospitals in the healthcare sector, is likely to decline and even collapse.


China Medical Mall

Image: Medical Mall’s service offer (left) and the names of the medical institutions present (right)

The Tencent Hospital

Tencent is well-known in China for its added-value online services, comparable in sector-coverage and size to Google and Amazon. Prior to the launch of their hospital, it had -most-successfully- run the online medical-service platform called WeDoctor (formerly named Guahao).

WeDoctor, a web-based application, started off by offering real-time video-consultations to patients with selected physicians and specialists. This form of patient-doctor contact was created in direct response to the pressing issue of overcrowding in public Chinese medical centers, and to ameliorate the difficulty of obtaining (or reaching) appointments.

On 14th September (2017), Tencent announced that an offline clinic had been constructed in Beijing. It is expected to start operating next month (November).

The difference between the Tencent Hospital and traditional hospitals can be delineated through the following 6 aspects:

  1. Versatility and combination of On- and Offline care
    Patients can obtain their consultation online, via WeDoctor, and complete any further assessments online, as well as obtain an online prescription if necessary. Alternatively, if there is a need/desire to obtain a physical in-person evaluation, the patient can make an appointment online and go to the (offline) Tencent Hospital for diagnosis and treatment.
  1. Domestic services
    If patients have the need for medical attention, but do not want to/cannot go to the offline hospital, doctors can perform home visits.
  1. Customized family doctor services
    WeDoctor and Tencent Hospital provide a comprehensive health management plan for patients, based on historical patient records and information.
  1. Infirmary services – in the future
    Tencent Hospital will extend their care services to serve school and corporate/firm infirmaries.
  1. Special payment mechanisms
    Remote payment via a mobile phone is possible.
  1. Medical equipment R&D
    WeDoctor and Tencent Hospital is in the process of developing certain types of medical equipment, e.g. making diagnostics, such as urine test, pregnancy test and ovulation test that could be carried out in a user-friendly device.

Necessity has always been the mother of change. In China (and elsewhere), we can observe innovative and high-potential solutions being born under urgency; where e.g. traditionally stringent governments and private entities are now meeting each other in order to resolve public needs.

These are exciting times to be observing the developments of healthcare management, the changes to come, and to be aware of how these can potentially impact medtech providers and procurement patterns.


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About Zhen Nie

Zhen is in charge of Asian Operations at TforG, with more than 6 years of experience in project management and business consulting for local and international companies. She works in a continuous basis with an extensive network of Key Opinion Leaders and Health Policy makers in Asian markets. She graduated at the University of Antwerp and has a Master Degree in Finance. Tel: +32 3 201 64 24 Mobile: +32 485 89 98 84 Email: z.nie@tforg.com