BEIJING: An innovative digital business is shaking up the healthcare sector in China by offering a platform service for drugstores, hospitals and individual customers.

In a conversation with CKGSB Knowledge, Yiyaowang founder Yu Gang explained how he has built a digital mobile health platform that currently offers more than 400,000 medicines and nutritional products and has a monthly active user count of 1.34 million.

“China’s health industry is backwards compared to the rest of the world,” Yu said. “The main problems are twofold: one is it’s hard to see doctors, and the other is that it’s expensive to buy medicine.”

His solution has been to “use the internet as a tool, as a business model and as a way of thinking to impact the health space”.

An online hospital with thousands of in-house and affiliated doctors can give an online diagnosis and online consultation to patients through video, phone and messaging.

“If we are sure of the disease, we will give an online digital prescription, and the prescription can be directly forwarded to our online pharmacy, which dispenses the drug to the patient [via offline partnering drugstores].

“With that, we solve the ‘hard to see doctors’ issue,” said Yu. And if the doctors can’t diagnose the problem online, they refer patients to partnering hospitals for relevant tests.

The price of drugs is reduced by streamlining a lengthy supply chain. “We are building a supply chain by ourselves – a platform for wholesale, which directly connects drug brands, drugstores and even patients, in order to cut off all intermediate layers.”

This ecosystem, Yu added, is an attractive proposition for China’s fragmented drugstore sector, where even the top 30 chains have less than a third of the market. “We can provide a vast selection through our platform to meet individual drugstores’ and individual patient’s needs.”

Crucially, the online pharmacy delivers reassurance to users by partnering with international brands, including Pfizer, Eli Lilly and Novartis as well as Chinese brands like Tongrentang and Baiyunshan. “We form alliances to make sure that we source directly and our products are authentic,” said Yu.

“We work a lot on the system side to make sure the whole shopping experience is good with a user-friendly interface, very simple procedures,” he added. “All these different factors are combined to provide a comprehensive customer experience.”

Sourced from CKGSB Knowledge; additional content by WARC staff