New app will help you find a good den­tist in top cities


Choos­ing a health­care provider is one of the most im­por­tant de­ci­sions in life. Yet, it is of­ten one of the least in­formed. Most peo­ple can get lit­tle in­for­ma­tion about the qual­ity or even the price of med­i­cal treat­ment.

The Beijing sub­sidiary of Cal­i­for­nia-based MedIm­pact Health­care Sys­tems, Inc has cre­ated a WeChat ap­pli­ca­tion, Mei­deyi, de­signed to ad­dress the in­for­ma­tion prob­lem for a part of the mar­ket — pri­vate den­tal clin­ics in four ma­jor cities.

About half of China’s 120 bil­lion yuan ($18 bil­lion) den­tal­care mar­ket is pro­vided by large State-owned hos­pi­tals, but lots of peo­ple, es­pe­cially busy pro­fes­sion­als with chil­dren, pre­fer the sched­ul­ing con­ve­nience and friendly ser­vice of a small pri­vate clinic. But, the 65,000 such clin­ics in China vary widely in price and qual­ity. There’s no ev­i­dence that the most ex­pen­sive ones ac­tu­ally pro­vide bet­ter treat­ment. So, howis a cus­tomer to choose?

Sally Yang, gen­eral man­ager of MedIm­pact Beijing, said that the com­pany’s em­ploy­ees vis­ited thou­sands of clin­ics in Beijing, Shang­hai, Guangzhou and Shen­zhen and rated each on the ba­sis of ob­serv­able fac­tors, in­clud­ing use of proper equip­ment, pro­fes­sional qual­i­fi­ca­tions of the den­tists, the im­ple­men­ta­tion of pro­cesses to pro­tect pa­tients, and whether the sources of ma­te­ri­als are rep­utable. Th­ese stan­dards were based on the­met­rics of theUnited States-based Joint Com­mis­sion Hospi­tal Stan­dards and Ac­cred­i­ta­tion Process. The 200 den­tal clin­ics that were judged ac­cept­able are listed on the WeChat ap­pli­ca­tion, along with list prices of all pro­vided den­tal pro­ce­dures. Pa­tient re­views of each clinic are also in­cluded on the ap­pli­ca­tion.

The large Ger­man in­sur­ance and rein­sur­ance group Mu­nich Re, in a re­port is­sued on Tues­day, pre­dicted fast growth in the pri­vate health­care in­sur­ance mar­ket in China.

Look­ing specif­i­cally at den­tal clin­ics, Bill Bos­sany, deputy chief ex­ec­u­tive of Mu­nich Re, Beijing (health branch), said: “The den­tal in­sur­ance mar­ket in China has been un­der­served in re­cent yearsan­dis still in its early devel­op­ment. An en­hance­ment like this of­fer­ing, es­pe­cially if com­bined with den­tal care and in­sur­ance plus claims pro­cess­ing, den­tal net­works, and the re­lated man­age­ment, is a step in the right di­rec­tion”.

Robert Zou, chair­man and chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Ar­rail Den­tal In­ter­na­tional Group, said in an in­ter­view with China Daily that Medim­pact’s den­tal in­for­ma­tion ap­pli­ca­tion could be very good for cus­tomers if han­dled the right way. How­ever, Medim­pact needs to be care­ful to stay within reg­u­la­tory guide­lines that limit claims that one med­i­cal ser­vice is bet­ter than oth­ers. Fur­ther­more, the app needs to avoid the kinds of con­flicts of in­ter­est that we have seen at Baidu.

Ac­cord­ing to Yang, Mei­deyi will have a busi­ness model based on (1) work­ing with in­sur­ance com­pa­nies to process claims, (2) ad­ver­tis­ing, and (3) ar­rang­ing with the clin­ics to of­fer cus­tomer dis­counts, of which MedIm­pact would re­ceive a por­tion.

We have to be flex­i­ble in customizing our so­lu­tion to fit the China mar­ket.” gen­eral man­ager of MedIm­pact Beijing

Sally Yang,

Medim­pact’s pri­mary busi­ness in the US is as a phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal ben­e­fits man­ager, or PBM, mean­ing that it con­tracts with health in­sur­ance com­pa­nies to mon­i­tor drug use at the point of sale. The phar­ma­cist uses the com­pany’s soft­ware and sys­tems to en­sure that the drug is cov­ered un­der the pa­tient’s plan. Plus, MedIm­pact will warn the phar­ma­cist if there are dan­ger­ous drug in­ter­ac­tions or other prob­lems that could harm the pa­tient. The com­pany also ne­go­ti­ates with phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal man­u­fac­tur­ers on be­half of in­sur­ance com­pa­nies for lower drug prices. Ac­cord­ing to anal­y­sis by Health Strate­gies Group, it is the fourth largest PBM in the US.

The com­pany got into the China mar­ket in 2011 and started by pro­vid­ing a ra­tio­nal drug use soft­wareto large pub­lic hos­pi­tals.

“This is only part of the func­tion­al­ity of a PBM, but we have to be flex­i­ble in customizing our so­lu­tion to fit theChina mar­ket”, Yang said.

The com­pany sees its 70-per­son of­fice in Beijing as a longterm in­vest­ment. Its pri­mary busi­ness goal is to po­si­tion it­self to grow as China’s on­go­ing health­care re­form leads to grow­ing pri­vate health­care and health in­sur­ance sec­tors.

“China is our No. 1 and No. 2 pri­or­ity in­ter­na­tion­ally,” Yang said.

“We are long-term fo­cused and are will­ing to build in­no­va­tive so­lu­tions that fit the lo­cal needs — the den­tal plat­form is an ex­am­ple.”

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