Healthcare start-up WeDoctor is on an ambitious mission to revolutionize China’s healthcare industry, attempting to eliminate bureaucracy and provide modern medical services in a sector that is often chronically underfunded.
WeDoctor is a mobile-based application on which users can seek a medical advice, book appointments, or speak to a provider directly. Platforms like WeDoctor are especially attractive to the Chinese healthcare market because, according to Reuters, “patients often queue outside hospitals from early morning to get an appointment.”
The solutions platform aims to create efficiency and promote transparency in an overwhelmed market by combining offline and online systems in an effort to reach customers directly.
WeDoctor, founded in 2010, connects more than 240,000 doctors, 2,700 hospitals, and 15,000 pharmacies and allows users to submit their own information to the WeDoctor mobile app.
The data collected is aggregated demographically, providing highly targeted and lucrative opportunities for potential advertisers. However, in the age of heightened awareness of data privacy and security, WeDoctor is quick to emphasize that app data is anonymized and not shared with third parties.
Beyond demographics, the data is further broken down by affliction – the hyper-segmentation being the bedrock of WeDoctor’s commercial drive – advertisers are able to target patients in a subtle, if not non-intrusive, manner.
Unlike in most western countries, privacy laws in China are much more lenient when it comes to repurposing users’ data, which allows companies like WeDoctor (among others) to collect vast amounts of data for commercial application.
Because of these relaxed laws surrounding privacy and data, WeDoctor has the flexibility to build personalized profiles of all its users – a potentially rich source of opportunity for major pharmaceutical firms.
Despite the lack of intense government regulation, many patients are still averse to sharing their data online and prefer to see doctors in person, and this is where the start-up, backed by China’s own internet powerhouse Tencent, has been particularly innovative.
Optimistic IPO and Monetization Strategy
Even though the latest data shows WeDoctor valued at $5.5 billion, the start-up shows no signs of slowing and plans to use artificial intelligence and user profiles to detect potential health risks and ailments of its user base.
With over 1.4 billion people and a health market expected to hit $1.2 trillion in the next two years, China provides boundless opportunities for WeDoctor to find success with its direct-to-consumer business.
So, how does this innovative start-up make money? Not only does WeDoctor take a percentage of the fees assessed by doctors, but in early 2018, the mobile-based platform went brick and mortar, opening the doors to its first clinic in Hangzhou and plans to open six more, with Beijing and Nanjing in its sights.
The fully staffed clinics could be the beginning of the company’s strategy to becoming a one-stop health facility.
If that weren’t enough, the company sells speakers similar to Alexa or Google Home, through which users can contact their doctor directly.
Looking to the Future
In 2018, WeDoctor raised $500 million from investors such as AIA Group Ltd, New World Development Company, and Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group and is on track to be listed in 2019.
While the IPO has yet to be announced, WeDoctor is making preparations to be listed on Hong Kong stock exchange and in the meantime, WeDoctor has announced a strategic partnership with IDS Medical Systems Group Limited to create a medical supply chain solutions and procurement company, idsMED WeDoctor China Ltd.