Beijing Friendship Hospital carried out an online companion diagnosis recently, a function welcomed by patients, especially the elderly, as a positive attempt to utilize the internet-plus healthcare industry in the capital.
A 66-year-old female resident surnamed Liu sprained her foot and went to the hospital for orthopedic treatment in August. She told Beijing Daily that there were staff members at the hospital teaching patients how to use the online companion diagnosis service via cellphone.
"The hospital was crowded," Liu said. "In the past, I would ask the guide if I didn't understand something. Now, I can just look at my phone. The information covers virtually everything one needs to know during a hospital visit."
On the WeChat account of Beijing Friendship Hospital, patients can click on the online companion diagnosis section to see a sequence of options for appointment booking, check-in, waiting in line and examination.
During the medical visit, patients only need to click on the corresponding options, enabling them to obtain information and make adjustments at any time.
They can view the number of people waiting in line in real time, change an appointment time for examinations and retrieve previous reports for the doctor's reference.
There are also in-hospital floor navigation services to help patients quickly find the correct consultation and examination rooms.
"The online companion diagnosis service makes the visit to the hospital easier by adding an additional electronic helper to be with the patient, which has improved the efficiency for both doctors and patients," said Guo Xin, deputy director of the Outpatient Department at the hospital.
Before the launch of the service, a two-month debugging process was conducted, considering opinions and suggestions from doctors and patients. For example, in appointment scheduling for examinations, the previous system would automatically assign the earliest available time, making it difficult for some patients who needed to undergo multiple tests to coordinate their examination schedules.
With the help of the current system, patients can now consolidate several appointment times on the same day without having to make multiple trips to the hospital.
Compared with the use of artificial intelligence applications for online prescriptions, which is currently still controversial, the online companion diagnosis service has received more applause.
Li Liang, a 36-year-old resident of Beijing who often goes to the hospital to get treatment for his mother, said the companion service has saved time and his mother can now go to the hospital by herself when he is occupied at work.
"In fact, it is not only helpful for the elderly. It's good for everyone that all patients can save time under the scientific arrangement calculated by the big data behind the system," he said. "That's how digital technology helps the industry. It raises efficiency for all of society."