Jun 8, 2020|

A Portrait of Lijun Xin, CEO of JD Health


by Tracy Yang

JD Health has been the focus of the internet industry since it was spun off from JD.com last year. According to Crunchbase, the world’s leading platform for business information of private and public companies, it is the second largest unicorn after Uber in 2019. The outbreak of COVID-19 has made more Chinese people aware of JD Health. Many people  might be curious about Lijun Xin, CEO of JD Health. Let’s look at Lijun Xin’s personal experience and healthy world closely.


From IT business to Internet health services

Lijun Xin is full of curiosity and a quick learner. After graduating from Shanghai Jiaotong University in 1995, Xin worked as a teacher for four years and then entered the IT industry for seven years. After that, he started his own business for eight years until he joined JD.com in 2012. At that time, JD.com only had its retail business, and the burden of developing a third-party platform business fell to Xin.

Eight years later, he successfully developed the business logic of JD.com’s third-party platform business, and constantly expanded its business categories, from apparel to cars, real estate, art, health, and so on. Xin has served as the person in charge of these businesses. In July 2019, he officially became CEO of JD Health.


Taking over the role to lead JD Health

Before becoming CEO of JD Health, Lijun Xin was invited by Richard Liu, Chairman and CEO of JD.com, to the suburbs of Beijing for a chat. Liu had two requests. The first was to provide healthcare services for JD’s staff, and the other is to focus on necessary investment of health industry at the initial stage, rather than on profits. Liu’s requirement for JD Health’s KPIs was not performance figures, but rather the level of customer satisfaction. For Internet services and products, it has always been difficult to objectively quantify user satisfaction, so this presented a great challenge for Xin.

In the more than eight years he has worked at JD.com, Xin has remained relatively low profile.  But after taking over the business of JD Health, both he and the business have come into the spotlight. JD Health has achieved the most complete Internet + medical and health layout in the industry, and its products and services cover not only the entire pharmaceutical industry chain, but the entire user life cycle for health management. JD Health’s retail business currently accounts for more than 15% of China’s national pharmaceutical retail market. Coupled with the previously disclosed A-round financing of more than US$1 billion, JD Health has become JD’s third unicorn after JD Digits and JD Logistics.


Internet hospital

JD.com first tried non-pharmaceutical health e-commerce in 2013, and began to expand its pharmaceutical business in 2015. The company later discovered that when consumers buy drugs, there is a need to consult with doctors for guidance. So in 2017, JD began to focus on Internet hospitals, which is a closed-loop and relatively complete business, and continued to further expand its business categories.

Xin explains that just as the Internet experienced explosive growth in 2000, and the outbreak of COVID-19 this year is likely to promote the development of the entire Internet medical industry. The development of Internet medical consulting and treatment in China has been full of twists and turns in terms of policy and promotion in the past decade. For example, it may not easy for most public hospitals to build their Internet hospitals on their own, nor do they have the operations capability to provide services directly to patients.

In Xin’s view, it works better for hospitals to embrace cooperation with internet companies with an open mind. Take the Internet hospital jointly built with JD.com as an example. Doctors in the hospital can do medical consulting online. JD’s 387 million active users can consult with the doctors online, thus directly expanding the “doctor’s office” from one region to the whole country.

Due to the epidemic, national policies towards Internet medical consulting and treatment, Internet hospital, and medical insurance payment are becoming more and more open. This means that for many things that would have taken another three to five years to realize are now possible in three months. From a historical point of view, this is great progress.

On January 26th, JD Health launched a free online consultation platform to prevent COVID-19 and took the lead in expanding the scope of free consultation to all disease areas in all departments in the Internet field, with more than 30, 000 doctors to provide free professional online-consultation to all users throughout the country.

From the beginning of the epidemic to  early May, JD Health online consultation platform served a total of more than 11 million users, with an average daily consultation volume of more than 120,000. Before the epidemic, the average daily consultation volume reached about 60, 000, even if the epidemic has been basically under control now, the average daily consultation volume remained close to 100,000.

To support chronic disease patients, JD launched the “Chronic Disease Care Program,” which allows chronic patients to renew prescriptions through the company’s online consultation platform. It has also partnered with 70 Chinese and foreign pharmaceutical companies to jointly ensure the supply of drugs for chronic disease groups. Drugs can be delivered by JD Logistics directly to users.

In addition, JD Health launched a “Global Free Health consultation platform” at the end of March, providing free online consultation services to people all over the world. Hundreds of doctors, including 38 doctors who participated in the treatment of the epidemic in Hubei, and more than 30 Chinese medicine experts, share anti-epidemic experience and prevention knowledge for overseas people on this platform. As of April 12th, the platform has received a total of more than 170,000 inquiries from overseas, including more than 10, 000 English inquiries and more than 6.7 million visits.


The tip of the iceberg

JD Health’s current business can be divided into four parts: online pharmacy, online healthcare, health services and intelligent healthcare solutions, of which the most matured one is the online pharmacy business. However, Xin believes that the future development direction of JD Health will put health management as the core. “I hope that in about three years, my team will build JD Health into the most reliable platform for chronic disease management and healthcare services for users.”

“In the past, the business model of JD Health was more like a pharmaceutical e-commerce business, but if we can’t guide and manage the whole life cycle of users, we can’t become a real healthcare-service company,” Xin explains.  In his eyes, JD Health will open up the whole industry chain, integrate medical resources of all parties, and provide users with products and services that run through the whole life cycle and cover all health scenarios.

Xin plans to take two steps to achieve that objective. First, JD Health will try to make the connection between users and JD Health with high frequency, enable the users to have the awareness of JD Health’s services, trust JD Health and rely on JD Health’s services eventually. Secondly, JD Health will provide full-process services, whether it is pharmaceutical services in the supply chain or long-term management of chronic diseases. JD Health will combine the advantageous specialties of major public hospitals across the country to carry out specialized disease management for chronic diseases, such as cardio-cerebrovascular, diabetes, and mental diseases.

On the whole, the health management status of most Chinese people is still in its infancy. Xin is also aware of this reality. “The health sector is worth more than RMB 10 trillion in China, and now we have touched only the tip of the iceberg.” He hopes to work with competitors to make this market bigger and better, so that Chinese consumers can develop the new format and habit of health management.

As CEO of JD Health, Xin is mindful of the relationship between his busy work schedule and his physical health. He loves sports and takes part in the football activities of JD.com’s football club every Wednesday. When organizing a team building event, he will often propose athletic activities such as skiing. According to his team members, Xin calmly and confidently tackles double black diamonds on the ski slopes.

Talking about JD Health’s mission for users, Xin said, “In fact, it is very simple. When users download the JD Health app, they will give their lives to us. Normally users will not think of us, they will only think of us when they are sick. But we are worthy of users’ trust and can solve their pain points. At that time, I think we will succeed.”