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The Chinese patients are coming – China’s latest business and technology news


The New York Times reports (paywall) that “Chinese people took an estimated 500,000 outbound medical trips last year, a fivefold increase from a year earlier, according to Ctrip.com,” a travel booking service. There is a growing industry to cater to well-heeled Chinese patients who can’t find the treatment they are looking for at home because of overcrowded hospitals or lack of specialist expertise. Hope Noah Health Company told the Times that it sent more than 1,000 patients to the U.S. and Japan last year on medical treatment packages that included Chinese-speaking concierges/translators, and pre-arranged apartment rentals for patients who do not need to be in a hospital ward.

However, the industry faces problems, including that patients with conditions requiring ongoing treatment may not find suitable care when they return to China. One person interviewed in the Times article started a medical travel business, but is now looking to change his service “into one that [helps] clients look for drugs in Hong Kong and Macau as well as doctors who could treat the problem domestically.”

Domestic medical tourism is already attracting investment: Earlier this month, Bloomberg reported on a $3 billion “medical tourism hot spot” planned for the island province of Hainan.


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Jia Guo

Jia Guo is from the coastal city of Qingdao. She has an M.A. in multimedia journalism from NYU and has worked at Facebook and Bloomberg TV in New York City.