A report on the development of "internet hospitals" in China says that by the end of 2020, there were more than 1,000 such hospitals in the country, and most of them were founded by public hospitals. Internet-based hospitals have developed fast partly because of social distancing norms necessitated by the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
Although almost 90 percent of these hospitals are not working at optimum levels, the effort is worthy of praise. The internet has penetrated so many aspects of our lives. And the central government has introduced a series of policies to encourage online medical services, which includes internet hospitals.
However, compared with the development of e-commerce and the shared economy, internet hospitals lag behind, primarily because of the lack of standards and regulations. The participation of information enterprises is indispensable to developing internet hospitals. Two points deserve attention here.
First, the ongoing medical reforms must continue. For example, sales of medicines are an essential business that helps internet hospitals make profits. Therefore, proper regulations are needed to ensure that internet hospitals don't over-prescribe medicines or overcharge for them to increase their profits.
Second, in the medical sector, return on investment takes a long time. So it is necessary to regulate those investing in internet hospitals.
Internet hospitals are not just about hospitals moving online. The concept involves a series of changes involving doctors, patients, and hospital management. So all the parties involved need time to adapt to this new mode, so as to optimize the allocation of resources.