While countries such as the US have just a handful of software suppliers for handling medical data, Chinese hospitals are running the software from around 4,000 different companies. Even within a hospital, there is no consistency and a patient can have up to 40 different ID numbers from various departments. The government is hoping to establish three large national health databases by 2020, including medical notes.

But how are they going to make sense of the vast arrays of different types of data? Yidu Cloud (医渡云) has already processed the data of over 300 million patients by setting up cloud services in participating hospitals or among groups of hospitals. It works with medical research institutes to form partnerships with hospitals to use data sets for researching diseases and treatments.

Hospitals are the frontline of healthcare in China. Patients head to hospitals for all medical care rather than visiting family doctors for referrals. There is widespread mistrust of hospitals and health professionals, all of which are perceived as trying to make as much money as possible from patients and their families for poor quality care. This results in more patients heading to larger, better-regarded hospitals which are the biggest in the world.

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Frank Hersey

Frank Hersey is a Beijing-based tech reporter who's been coming to China since 2001. He tries to go beyond the headlines to explain the context and impact of developments in China's tech sector. Get in...