JD Health, the healthcare arm of e-commerce firm JD.com, is reported to be on the verge of filing a Hong Kong IPO that could be worth $1 billion. Tencent-backed Wedoctor is rumored to be coming next year. There’s no question that telemedicine is hot.

A pandemic that kept people at home for months is, of course, one big reason. The convenience and safety of remotely ordering medicine or texting a doctor appealed to many patients. Boosted by a Covid-driven influx of users, the user volume for online healthcare is expected to surpass 60 million this year, with a market volume exceeding RMB 700 billion (about $103 billion). But will this unique year prove to be a high water mark for the industry, or are doctor apps here to stay?

Bottom line: China’s telehealth industry got a big boost this year, offering vital medical services that would have otherwise been unreachable to many patients. But it’s too soon to say whether the surge in patients caused by lockdowns has lasted, or whether healthtech apps will be able to turn a profit. Achieving broader change in China’s healthcare system will require new regulations and industry standards, not just consultation apps. 

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