Bankcard com­pa­nies tar­get med­i­cal & health sec­tor

China Daily (Canada) - - SHANGHAI - By WU YIYAO in Shang­hai

wuyiyao@chi­nadaily.com.cn

To tap onto the grow­ing de­mands for health­care and med­i­cal ser­vices, bankcard as­so­ci­a­tions and pay­ment ser­vices providers have re­cently launched a wide range of ser­vices and pres­tige pack­ages for con­sumers, throw­ing in perks such as bet­ter ac­cess to hospi­tals, den­tists and skin clin­ics, get­ting pri­or­ity in post­par­tum care cen­ters, and get­ting fast-tracked when mak­ing ap­point­ments with doc­tors in top hospi­tals.

Chi­nese con­sumers’ de­mands for health­care and med­i­cal ser­vices have been ex­pand­ing fast, par­tic­u­larly through in­ter­net­based and mo­bile chan­nels. A re­search re­port by the Bos­ton Con­sult­ing Group re­leased last Septem­ber said that the dig­i­tized med­i­cal ser­vices mar­ket will reach a size of some 700 bil­lion yuan ($107.4 bil­lion) by 2020.

Med­i­cal ser­vices providers said that the in­no­va­tive pay­ment ser­vices of­fered will help to shorten the many steps re­quired by pa­tients to pay for their med­i­cal ex­am­i­na­tion and med­i­ca­tion. Gao Xin, deputy head of Zhong­shan Hos­pi­tal, Fu­dan Univer­sity, said that a mo­bile phone ap­pli­ca­tion that en­ables users to make ap­point­ments quickly and pay for bills us­ing China UnionPay ac­counts have in­deed made see­ing a doc­tor much eas­ier for pa­tients.

“In­no­va­tive tools that link a pa­tient’s bank ac­count and med­i­cal bill ac­count will re­duce time needed for pay­ment, and their pri­vacy is also pro­tected be­cause the pay­ment process and per­sonal pro­file is coded un­der the fi­nan­cial sys­tem as re­quired,” said Gao.

Wang Aiy­ing, a 67-year-old re­tiree who has to get her eyes ex­am­ined at a hos­pi­tal ev­ery month, said that Zhong­shan Hos­pi­tal’s mo­bile phone ap­pli­ca­tion has made her life a lit­tle eas­ier.

“In the

past,

I had to get up very early in the morn­ing around 6 am just to line up at the hos­pi­tal to make an ap­point­ment to see an ex­pert. Now, af­ter my son had helped me in­stall the ap­pli­ca­tion and taught me how to use it, I can just make an ap­point­ment by touch­ing the screens. I can now get to hos­pi­tal around 10 am on the ap­point­ment date in­stead,” said Wang.

The joint pro­gram be­tween Zhong­shan Hos­pi­tal and China UnionPay has been run­ning for more than a year and has helped fa­cil­i­tate more than 200,000 hos­pi­tal vis­its. China UnionPay is ex­pected to ex­pand the pro­gram to more hospi­tals and clin­ics na­tion­wide.

Mean­while, United States­based bankcard as­so­ci­a­tion Visa looks to have its eyes set on high-end con­sumers who wish to keep fit and re­ceive pre­mium health­care ser­vices as well as easy ac­cess to care cen­ters.

“China’s af­flu­ent are at­tach­ing more im­por­tance than ever to work-life bal­ance and per­sonal health­care de­vel­op­ment. That’s ex­actly why we have in­cluded easy ac­cess to high-end clin­ics, free ac­cess to fit­ness clubs at five-star ho­tels and dis­counts to den­tists and care cen­ters,” said Stan­ford Lin, head of Prod­ucts at Visa China.

A Visa re­search that sur­veyed more than 500 wealthy in­di­vid­u­als found out that more than 66 per­cent of re­spon­dents said they go to gyms or have signed up for per­sonal coach­ing pro­grams.

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