In a world where unicorn valuations from start-ups like Uber or China’s equivalent Didi Chuxing make investors and consumers giddy, it can be easy to overlook that these on-demand models also need to create a positive experience for those on the other side of the equation: in Didi’s situation the drivers, and in the Chinese mHealth world, the physicians. mHealth platforms never answered the question of why physicians would be incentivized to drive patients to use any particular service. In addition, many physicians were not fully educated on how these mHealth apps would address care plan adherence, or medication management, or improved triage at point of care. Consequently, mHealth platforms missed the opportunity to leverage physicians as an advocate around guiding how the patient journey in China could have been enabled through mHealth.
Betting against China in general, and the ability of Chinese companies to innovate within the unique boundaries of their domestic market specifically, has never been a wise idea. It could well be that mHealth platforms in China will take the previously mentioned problems, digest them, and use the market’s response to shape a new wave of innovative mHealth technologies. But, for this to happen mHealth apps will need to prove they can remedy essential problems around trust, access, affordability and quality specific to China’s healthcare economy and Chinese healthcare consumers.