As China’s homegrown innovation drive moves forward, tech is beginning to pierce one of the most important – and opaque – public services in the country; hospitals.
While everyone from startups to internet giants have attempted to tap into the problem market, diabetes self-care apps are making serious headway, taking aim at one of the country’s most serious health issues. IDF Diabetes Atlas estimates there are 96 million diabetics in China, which is 9% of the population.
Diabetes management apps have become a popular tech-health feature worldwide due to the need to track various elements of the disease including blood glucose and medication.
CEO of Gather, a Hong Kong startup that has an office in China, believes that care teams could be a crucial part in addressing the issues of diabetes in China’s stretched health care system. Gather Health uses an app to help patients track medication adherence, in-home glucose testing, and other health data. Once the data is in the system, the care team including doctors, nutritionists and family members can offer ongoing support to the patient.
Gather announced today that it has raised $2M in seed funding from private angels from the US, Europe and India, and completed enrollment for its first clinical trial in three Indian Hospitals. It is already live in Hong Kong and plans to do the same across Asia.
“In countries like India where the ratio of doctors to patients is just 0.7:1,000, doctors need efficient tools to give better care to more patients,” CEO of Gather Burke Wise says.
“The percentage of people suffering from type 2 diabetes in Asia is greater than the global average. Nearly 9% of people in Southeast Asia (72M) and the Western Pacific (138M) are affected by this chronic illness. Gather and other mobile tools must deliver continuous support to these people because the existing systems of care simply cannot.”
Local diabetes self-monitoring services have also popped up in China and the U.S. over the past few years. Boyiyang secured US$733,974 of angel investment in 2013, and U.S. based Welldoc was first to achieve insurance reimbursement.
According to a WHO report, Chinese hospitals increased patient volume by 16.7% in 2012, and the healthcare business is booming with revenue increases at almost 25% per year, backed by an increase in government spending. However, they remain understaffed, and frequently suffer from overcrowding.
To address problems in opacity and inefficiency, Tencent and Alibaba have both released products in an attempt to enable hospital payments and data platforms. A handful of medtech startups like Dingxiangyuan, Haodaifu, Chunyu Doctor and Guahao have also offered services designed to to connect patients to doctors digitally.
Image Credit: Gather Health