The promising platform is called Guahao (挂号网) and it claims to be China’s largest online appointment registration system. With a national network of nearly 4,000 hospitals, 600 being Level-3 hospitals, and over 300,000 specialists, it is hard to dispute it’s size.* Guahao began development in Shanghai 2010 in collaboration with the Chinese Health Education Network, Fudan Hospital and Healthcare Management Co., and the Chinese Hospital Association, and later expanded nationally. Guahao attempts to alleviate the bitterness patients endure during a typical hospital visit.
*It should be known that there are actually several online appointment registration systems in China; However, most are small, regionally splintered and have questionable legitimacy. Guahao is by far the largest and most well supported system in China.
China historically has not had a call-ahead appointment scheduling system. Patients throughout China have long lamented the country’s hospital queuing system, or the lack thereof. Patients arrive at the hospital, literally take a number, and wait for their turn – sometimes for over 24 hours. It is not uncommon to see throngs of patients and their family members outside of the hospital, camping out in makeshift beds to see a physician. A lack of appointment system puts pressure on the hospital’s health workers. Patient scheduling provides predictability of patient flow and allows for more efficient allocation of healthcare resources. Not to mention it makes for a much more patient-centered approach to healthcare delivery.