With China’s rapidly changing demographics, including an expanding middle class, rapid urbanization, and an aging population, a significant shift in the country’s healthcare needs is expected to occur. Despite health sector expansion, major disparities still exist, affecting both rural and urban settings. While urban hospitals have undergone positive shifts towards advanced medical care, many still struggle with overcrowding and lack of patient-centered care. On the other end of the spectrum, rural clinics are becoming increasingly understaffed, undersupplied, and underutilized. Government investments have largely been concentrated in large cities and provincial capitals, with healthcare expenditure a total of four-fold larger in urban areas (Chen et al., 2014). The uneven access to medical care has a drastic impact on the health of Chinese citizens, with the male life expectancy 5.7 years greater in urban areas compared to rural areas in 2010 (Li et al., 2015).
A novel solution to address these national disparities lies in health technology – technology designed to aid and streamline the healthcare system. From mobile applications to electronic health records, every aspect of healthcare has room for technological growth. Technology will play a major transformative role in the future of healthcare and help to equalize care across rural and urban divides.
This report aims to:
1) assess major issues affecting both urban and rural Chinese healthcare,
2) analyze how health technology solutions, both established and developing, can address these gaps, and
3) provide insights on trends and opportunities for key stakeholders.