Dec 30, 2020|

In-Depth Report: JD Health’s Footprint on Diabetes Management

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by Hui Zhang

Statistics from the National Health Commission of China show that there are now nearly 300 million people with chronic diseases in China, with an annual increase of about 10 million people. The prevalence of chronic diseases in China reached 23% in 2019 with deaths accounting for 86% of the total number of deaths. Chronic diseases have become a major cause of death in China.

Based on such a large population of patients with chronic diseases, assisting them in health management has become increasingly important. Telemedicine, a new method for health management, is also gaining attention and support from both the government and the public.

 

Policy Supports

As early as July 2018, the National Health Commission and the National Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine issued documents to encourage all parties to actively provide online consultations for both common and chronic diseases, as well as follow-up health management guidance. Since then, the two departments have issued measures for the administration of internet hospitals and telemedicine, giving detailed guidance on internet+ medical service.

On March 20, 2019, a spokesman from the Planning Department of the National Health Commission said at a press conference held by the Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism of the State Council that in the process of pandemic prevention and control, all parties are encouraged to organize online consultations, offer follow-up consultation services for patients with chronic diseases online and provide instant drug distribution services. He also suggested that internet diagnosis and some types of treatment should fall under the payment scope of the medical insurance fund, expanding the online service space and alleviating the pressure on offline medical treatment.

“Patients with minor and chronic diseases are well suited to consult through Internet hospitals,” said Lijun Xin, JD Health CEO. “JD Health cooperates with local health care commissions nationwide to build an integrated online and offline medical system for local cities, thus to intervene in the precise health management of individual users with chronic diseases, significantly improve their compliance, and also save health insurance resources and improve the quality of medical care for patients.”

JD Health’s Doctors

 

JD Health’s Role

Thanks to the government’s policy support, JD Health, as one of the key players in the field of telemedicine in China, gives full play to its supply chain advantages such as industrial chain resources and cold chain logistics, as well as technological advantages such as AI, big data, and IoT to provide integrated and closed-loop online medical services to patients with chronic disease. So far, JD Health has launched three chronic disease centers, which are the cardiology, respiratory and diabetes center. JD Health is committed to helping patients with chronic disease by offering online consultations, telemedicine appointments for long-term chronic disease management, ensuring instant drug supply, providing a smart and life-long method for health management, and more.

Diabetes Center on JD Health

Take the Diabetes Center as an example: JD Health serves patients with chronic disease in the following three aspects. First, integrating online resources with offline medical institutions to meet patients’ daily medication needs. Second, joining hands with leading medical device companies to assist in health management in a smart way; and third, helping patients to live a normal life through offering various healthy products for them instead of simply restricting their diet.

O2O approaches

For diabetic patients with stable conditions, their major needs are instant medical consultations and repeat prescriptions. During the earlier stages of the pandemic, patients with chronic disease in China’s Hubei province were running out of their medication, since some local hospitals and pharmacies had suspended regular services, traffic was restricted, and most people were in quarantine or home-isolation. To address these challenges, JD Health initiated a Chronic Disease Care Project by launching a platform that received 17,000 requests for medicine; 80% of those requests were fufilled.

A lesson learned from the pandemic is that an integration of online and offline services will maximize the effect on chronic disease health management. For diabetics, combining online follow-up prescriptions with offline face-to-face treatment and integrating pharmaceutical supply chain can serve them comprehensively and continuously.

JD Health works closely with diabetes experts and world leading pharmaceutical companies to ensure high-quality services. JD Health can provide patients with a series of professional services including follow-up prescriptions, medication guidance, diet and exercise guidance and more. Leveraging JD’s nationwide logistics network, cold chain capability and cooperation with offline pharmacies, 80% of drugs and other products can be delivered within 24 hours.

JD Health is also working with hospitals to offer supplemental services to online treatment.

For example, JD Health worked with Guangdong Clifford Hospital (广东祈福医院) to construct an offline “Diabetes Intelligent Care Center” which is designed to provide intelligent care assistance to diabetes patients via its comprehensive “internet + health care” services. In their partnership, JD Health and Clifford Hospital take advantage of their respective strengths to create a standardized process for patients, build customized plans for each diabetic in terms of diet, exercise, health data monitoring, drug use, etc., and provide targeted care and guidance for patients with cognitive impairments.

JD is also collaborating with world-famous biopharmaceutical companies such as Sanofi, to facilitate patients with well-rounded chronic diabetes management. Both sides leverage their strengths to explore areas of online consultation, insulin cold chain distribution, and education of both medical institutions and patients. Through this cooperation, Sanofi shares its expertise in diabetes management with JD Health. Patients are able to order diabetes treatment medicine through the JD app, and then pick up their medicine from the nearest pharmacy, or can rely on JD’s effective cold chain fulfillment capability, which ensures the insulin be delivered in as fast as 30 minutes.

“Preventing diabetes and complications requires not only the help from doctors and hospitals, but also the joint efforts and joining of forces from all walks of life. Internet medical care can improve the effectiveness and efficiency of patient education, management and medical care, and facilitate diabetes to be handled quickly. It is also the original intention of my cooperation with JD Health Diabetes Center,” said Dajin Zhou, former deputy director of Chinese Diabetes Society (CDS) and chief physician of the department of endocrinology of Shanghai Tenths People’s Hospital, who joined JD Health’s Diabetes Center after years of practice.

“From a purely therapeutic point of view, medication accounts for only 30% of the treatment of diabetes. Lifestyle management, such as nutrition and exercise, accounts for 2/3 of the share,” said Zhou. “So I think it is very important to use technology platforms to promote planning and individualization of diabetes management.  It is also the future direction of development.”

Technology Application

With the diversified individual needs from diabetics, the application of technology to match patients with the most appropriate medical resources and customize personalized management plans are increasingly significant.

For example, the JD Health Diabetes Center uses big data, AI and other means to achieve accurate matching between doctors and patients, so that patients can find the most suitable doctors for them. JD Health collaborates with medical device companies to promote smart health management. All the data about the patients will be collected and uploaded from their medical devices onto the care center platform where patients’ real-time health reports will be automatically generated. This will help doctors to update and optimize their diagnosis and treatment plans, a process that greatly improves the effectiveness while reducing expenses.

For example, JD Health’s cardiology center and Japanese electronics manufacturer Omron reached an agreement on October 12th to deepen cooperation on co-creating intelligent health management solutions for chronic diseases. Under the agreement, both sides would use their respective resources to offer more convenient, professional and creative health management services, including co-designing devices for blood pressure management, telemedicine services, and more.

Jianbo Xiao(left), general manager of JD Health, Dayi Hu (middle), one of China’s top cardiologists, and Yao Zhao, general manager of Omron Heathcare China

Meeting Needs of Daily Life

Diabetics attributed their poor blood glucose control to not managing their diet well and not balancing their work and rest. Among these factors, controlling their diet is the most difficult task for diabetics, especially during their daily meals on working days. Letting them enjoy life as normal people do has always been a challenge.

According to JD’s data, nearly 10 million people purchased diabetes-related drugs, monitoring instruments, consumables, videos and more in 2019, and most of the consumers also consulted online at JD Internet Hospital after purchasing related goods. Through JD Health Diabetes Center, patients can not only get a personalized diet plan, but also directly purchase low-cal fast food, healthy snacks, nutritional health products and more, which can solve the inconvenience of daily dining as well as meet their needs for a variety of food without causing health problems or making them feel guilty.

 

Health Management in a Pandemic

During the pandemic, JD Health launched a platform to help patients with chronic diseases maintain their drug supply. The platform connects chronic patients with pharmaceutical companies and pharmacies, and provides timely information on where they can get the drugs they need, online or offline.

In addition to launching a platform, JD Health has been collaborating with nearly 60 pharmaceutical companies to provide patients and consumers with online prescription refills, advice on medication, and drug delivery service to ensure adequate supply to patients with chronic diseases, such as diabetes and hypertension – especially for those in Hubei province. Drug deliveries can be made in as fast as within 30 minutes from ordering to keep patients from unnecessary leaving of their homes.

 

Future Development

With increasing support from both government and society, more and more online platforms have been testing the water in the field of chronic disease, one after another. To cope with the homogenization of competition and improve operation abilities, JD Health and other online health platforms should consider expanding the number of cooperative pharmaceutical companies, and improve their medical services. As Chinese patients have not completely formed the habit of paying for online medical services, improving the quality and efficiency of medical services are the key to speeding up the digitalization of medical services.

“Like education, health care is an industry that inherently comes with a socially beneficial nature. JD Health has made two things clear from the very beginning. The first is to help solve the problem of difficult and expensive access to medical care, and reduce the cost of time and money. Second is to apply our technology and service advantages to improve efficiency, quality and thus optimize the consumer experience,” said Xin.

 

(zhanghui36@jd.com)

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