An employee checks medicine stocks at the First People's Hospital in Lianyungang, Jiangsu province. (Photo: China Daily)
Chinese hospitals, especially those with good reputations in big cities, are always crowded, with patients who have traveled long distances to wait for several hours, or even all night, just for a few minutes' consultation with a doctor.
Many patients visit hospitals not because they are in urgent need of medical care, but because they want follow-up treatment for chronic conditions or simply to get medicine.
This is because doctors in China are only allowed to prescribe medicines in limited doses: usually in third-tier hospitals only enough to last up to two weeks and in community hospitals prescriptions only last one month maximally, and patients cannot buy prescription drugs without a prescription.
Thanks to the internet and smart hospital technologies, a change is under way that is making it easier for patients to get the medicines they need.
Bestyoo, an enterprise affiliated to Chinese pharmaceutical company Baheal Pharmaceutical Group, has been cooperating with local governments and hospitals to establish online prescription transferring and sharing systems to solve such problems by diverting patients' drug purchases from hospitals to offline pharmacies.
Bestyoo has designed two information system products - one for local governments and the other for hospitals.
The system for local governments incorporates real-time prescriptions information from medical institutions, medical insurance billing information, and drug sales information in a region. The prescription information, once verified and approved by a pharmacist, will be transferable between different medical institutions, or from medical institutions to approved pharmacies, drug delivery services, and online sales terminals, if patients authorize the transfer with text message verification codes.
The system for hospitals is designed to connect to a hospital's existing information system, or HIS, allowing prescription information to be transferred to approved pharmacies with the permission of patients.
Ma Guanglei, president of Bestyoo, said the company's platforms make it much easier for patients to get medicines legally and safely from pharmacies.
"For first-time patients at hospitals using the company's information systems, if they decide not to buy drugs in the hospital, they can authorize transfer of the prescription information to a chosen pharmacy, and collect the medicine themselves or have it delivered," he said.
For patients getting follow-up treatment, they can have online consultations with doctors either through the hospitals' WeChat accounts or Bestyoo app, or simply ask for a renewed prescription.
Once doctors prescribe medication, patients can collect the medicine from their chosen pharmacy, as long as the pharmacies are connected to the Bestyoo platforms and have the drugs.
If patients have questions about their medication, if they are suffering from side effects or need help understanding drug guidelines, for example, they can consult pharmacists online through the platforms, according to Ma.