How a Chinese Hospital Cares for the Elderly in the Digital Era

How a Chinese Hospital Cares for the Elderly in the Digital Era

By adopting smart solutions to address China’s aging population and care for the elderly, the West China Hospital of Sichuan University won the first prize of Digital Healthcare Innovative Services at the 1st CHITEC Challenge in July 2021.

Chinese seniors face a broadening digital gap.

The latest national census results released in 2020 shows that the population of Chinese people aged 65 or above on the mainland has reached 191 million, reaching13.5% of the China’s total population. Additionally, more than 180 million, or 75%, of the population aged 60 or above suffer from chronic diseases while 42 million are disabled to varying degrees.

While seniors have a relatively increased need for treatment, modern practices such as making reservations online, scanning QR codes, conducting facial recognition, and paying through a mobile device can be more difficult. The 46th Statistical Report on Internet Report shows that those aged over 60 account for only 10.3% of China’s netizens and 140 million seniors using non-smart phones or not utilizing the internet even with smart phones.

The West China Hospital offers special on-site and online services to fully meet seniors’ needs. 

In working to overcome the difficulties in servicing the elderly community, the West China Hospital of Sichuan University has made it a priority to attend to the healthcare needs of seniors. In this pursuit, the hospital has assigned dedicated service counters and workers to provide better tailored consultancy and services. In 2020, a Patient Service Center was established to further streamline the process from reservation, payment, to health check report printing, making all the issues understandable and easy for the aged people.

Meanwhile, the hospital has been utilizing artificial intelligence technology to combine on-site and online services to increase service optionality and medical comprehensiveness. Furthermore, Special online services have been developed to the common needs of seniors in online registration, real-name verification, reservation, and mobile payment, saving them from having to repeatedly visit the hospital unnecessarily.

For example, on the hospital’s WeChat Official Account and its Online Outpatient App, a special service zone has been set up for those aged 60 or above where QR codes are enlarged and to-do item are enhanced with red dots in consideration of possible poor vision.

How a Chinese Hospital Cares for the Elderly in the Digital Era

 AI-supported functions like speech and facial recognition have also been developed to assist in typing while performing online registrations, medical card applications, and appointment reservations. Online registrations and medical card applications can also be completed at home with minimal assistance.

How a Chinese Hospital Cares for the Elderly in the Digital Era

When at the hospital, information can be searched through by utilizing voice commands, greatly aiding patients with minimal mobility. The AI guidance services provided by iFLYTEK can intelligently analyze diseases and ailments and to lead patients to the right consulting room for their specific needs.

If mobile payments prove more difficult for elderly patients, they may forward the payment link to their WeChat friends through the “Pay for Me” function, and then the person selected can complete the payment instead.

Since the launch of the -oriented section on the West China Hospital app at the beginning of 2021, the registered aged users have reached 215, 731 and the number of seniors who received online diagnosis and treatment services totaled 79,211, up 15% before the transformation. Moreover, elderly patients have conducted 1.36 million online interactions with the smart guidance terminal.

With the achievement already made, the West China Hospital plans to further promote its elderly-oriented smart services through lectures and livestreaming to bridge the digital gap facing seniors, better enabling them to learn the benefits of advanced technologies like the internet and artificial intelligence.

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