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Healthcare Technology in China
Last decade’s simultaneous rise of the healthcare technology industry and the Chinese middle class has opened up a multibillion-dollar market for health tech in China: from wearables that monitor heart health and movement, to food gadgets that monitor calories and nutrition intake. This article will identify the factors pushing for new technology, and the differing age and location needs for health tech.
Economic Boom and Doctor Shortage
China’s strong growth in urbanization and economic expansion has created a new middle class with more purchasing power and health consciousness than ever. The fervent rise in urbanization, however, has led to overburdened city hospitals and doctor shortages. Patients may sometimes wait an entire day to consult with a specialist doctor about a condition that turned just out to be low blood pressure. The need to self-diagnose and monitor individual fitness and food intake has opened up the market for health techs such as activity trackers, blood pressure monitors, and food safety checkers that eliminate the need to consult directly with a doctor. The medical products market reached 20 Billion dollars in 2011 and has only grown since.
Healthy Living and Trendy Wearables
The Chinese public has been increasingly aware of healthy living trends, and they are spending the money. Healthcare spending in China is expected to reach $892 billion by 2018, with annual growth over 11% fueled by increasing incomes and government healthcare reforms. Everyone, from athletic gear retailers like Under Armour and Adidas to gym clubs and yoga classes, has been capitalizing on the Chinese middle class’s pursuit of the trendy, healthy lifestyle.
China now has a new craze: health gadgets and wearables. The Apple Watch, which monitors heart rate and activity in addition to updating email and social media, first introduced the Chinese public to health wearables. China now accounts for a fifth of all Watch sales and has also bought over 9 million other health and fitness trackers. The market for health tech is still in its nascent stage. Although Chinese tech giants like Xiaomi (in Chinese小米 ) have provided cheaper alternatives like the Mi band, Chinese consumers generally prefer Western brands, regarding them as more chic and stylish.
China Market Potential for Health Tech
There is a definite first-mover advantage in the health tech market right now, as brand names have not become well established. For example, while Dyson has dominated the bladeless fan and vacuum cleaner market, a prominent brand in niche markets such as food safety sensors, at-home body checkups, and smart sleep systems has not arisen.
The Health Tech Need in China can be split into three categories:
Activity Tracker Wearables
Wearable trackers for movement, location, calories burned, heart rate and such are popular among young to middle-aged urban professionals who see them as fashionable indicators of success. The wearables market is projected to become $25 billion by 2019.
At Home Health Gadgets
As awareness and interest in health and fitness grow, more Chinese are looking for gadgets beyond wristlet wearables. Blood pressure monitors, scales, smart sleep systems, and alarms are also rising in popularity as middle class Chinese fine tune their lives.
Smart Food Electronics
Food safety and cleanliness has always been important, but only recently has Chinese people been monitoring calorie and nutrition intake. Although there exist many calorie counting apps, the product market for electronics that analyze food content or portion out meals by calorie is not well established.
The Health Tech Industry in China is still in its nascent years and a single brand has yet to dominate the market. Whether it is smart food electronics or health wearables, the right branding and marketing are needed to gain traction among Chinese consumers.
Case Study: Healthcare Technology in China
Daxue Consulting has helped several companies in the healthcare industry, by deploying their business performance, increasing their transparency and therefore, allowing managers to identify new market opportunities. Daxue has helped one of its clients in the pharmaceutical industry to seize new opportunities in China. Regarding the client’s demand, Daxue has held a consumer panel service to understand Chinese consumers in second and third tier cities. Daxue’s project managers have held both quantitative and qualitative interviews with a target sample of consumers that usually go to the pharmacy, more than twice a month. The final report has helped the client to quantify their performance and to identify the opportunity in China.