Chunyu Yisheng is a smartphone mobile app in China that is attempting to change healthcare delivery for an entire nation with telemedicine. The main purpose of this app is to connect patients with physicians through a mobile device. The app has an incredible base of both physicians and patients – to date, more than 30 million users have used the app to reach over 40,000 physicians. The app has also raised over $50 million in funding making it one of the most successful healthcare startups on record.
The creators of the app have stressed that its main purpose is addressing minor ailments and concerns for patients. Similar to the United States, the emergency rooms and urgent care centers of China are being overwhelmed with medical issues. Many of these issues could be addressed at home with an electronic consultation. Patients can call or chat with physicians for brief consultations, with longer discussions coming at a premium price. Chunyu Yisheng also includes features for recording and acquiring health information data through the app which can be shared with the physician during the consultation.
One of the most impressive features is that the app is free for physicians and patients. The app is funded by advertising from insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, and private hospitals.
The success and direction of this app makes us consider its applicability in the United States healthcare system. Mobile technology can play an important role in connecting physicians and patients and Chunyu Yisheng is a good example of that connection. In the United States, we also have overwhelmed emergency rooms and long waiting times to meet with a physician. Some emergency departments in the United States are now providing apps to allow patients to anticipate wait times. However, these apps are reluctant to go beyond basic medical information for several medical-legal reasons.
Mobile medical apps and telemedicine in general have a unique challenge in the United States: medical state licensure laws. The exchange of medical information and medical advice from the physician to the patient becomes a tangled web when it crosses state lines. State licensure laws for physicians have stifled the growth of telemedicine within the United States.
It will be interesting to follow the progress of Chunyu Yisheng in China. With continued success, this app may bring greater focus to the benefits of telemedicine in the United States. Mobile app health technology will continue to develop in multiple ways to improve access to care for physicians and patients.