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Telemedicine Services for Expats in Remote China

Telemedicine services eliminate the need to physically visit healthcare facilities for certain consultations and diagnoses. Telemedicine services are becoming more and more prevalent in China. This can be beneficial to expats and digital nomads in remote areas in China.

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Are you an expat or a digital nomad working in remote cities in China? In this article, we will cover how telemedicine services in China work and how you can access them through your international health insurance policy.

What are Telemedicine Services for Expats? 

Image of a Doctor With Stethoscope And Laptop, Key For Telemedicine with text overlay of "What are Telemedicine Services"

Telemedicine refers to healthcare services that are provided remotely through the use of telecommunications. Telemedicine services typically involve the delivery of medical care, consultations, diagnosis, treatment, and patient education.

Leveraging digital technologies, telemedicine services can offer expats and digital nomads a number of quality-of-life benefits such as eliminating the need for physical visits, saving time, and reducing travel expenses.

Key aspects of Telemedicine:

  • Remote Consultations: Remote consultations allow patients to consult with healthcare professionals without having to physically visit a healthcare facility. These consultations can be conducted over the phone, through video conferencing, or even messaging apps.
  • Remote Monitoring: Remote monitoring leverages modern technology to allow healthcare providers to monitor a patient’s health remotely using wearable devices and other home monitoring equipment to transmit data.
  • Remote Specialized Care: A key benefit of telemedicine is providing patients, particularly those in remote regions, access to specialized medical expertise that may not be otherwise available to them locally. 

Challenges of Telemedicine for Expats

In order for telemedicine to be successful in a region, security concerns need to be addressed and a well-established digital infrastructure is required. However, despite the many potentials that telemedicine brings, it is not without challenges and obstacles.

As convenient as telemedicine may be, many traditional healthcare services and medical treatments require the patient to physically visit healthcare facilities. As such, telemedicine should be seen as a temporary solution and a stepping stone for better medical. 

Telemedicine Services in China

In recent years, the Chinese government has also been actively promoting telemedicine services, particularly during the pandemic to minimize people’s exposure to the public and reduce the risk of infection. different initiatives have also been rolled out to support the development of telemedicine.

One of the government initiatives is the “Internet Plus” strategy which aims to integrate Internet and modern information technologies with traditional industries such as manufacturing, finance, and healthcare. As a result of the strategy, the National Telemedicine Center was established in 2018.

Benefits of Telemedicine for Expats in China

For expats and digital nomads in China, especially those in remote regions, telemedicine can help bridge the gap in healthcare access and allow them to seek quality medical facilities and specialists that may otherwise be limited.

As telemedicine breaks the boundaries of borders, expats can also maintain a relationship with their healthcare providers from their home country if telemedicine services are supported. This is particularly beneficial for managing chronic conditions.

Another benefit this can provide expats in China is tackling the language barrier they may face after relocating to China. Telemedicine platforms often offer multilingual services. This allows expats to better and more comfortably explain their ailments and seek a more accurate initial diagnosis.

While the Chinese government has been laying the foundation for telemedicine for a while now, in recent years, the National Health Commission has been introducing and strengthening telemedicine regulations and guidelines to ensure the safe and effective provision of telemedicine services.

Thanks to the regulations and guidelines, telemedicine platforms in China prioritize data privacy and confidentiality. Expats can benefit from telemedicine services from reputable platforms without worrying about their personal data being misused.

Accessing Telemedicine Services in China

Image of a Virtual Doctor Consultation with text overlay of "Accessing Telemedicine Services"

As telemedicine becomes more prevalent in China, many insurers offer telemedicine services as part of an add-on-value service in their health insurance policy. Top international insurance companies in China such as Ping An and April International offer telemedicine services for their policyholders.

Ping An Insurance Telemedicine Services

Ping An Insurance is one of the largest insurance providers in China and offers telemedicine services through its subsidiary Ping An Good Doctor. Ping An policyholders can access online consultations and prescription services through the official Ping An Good Doctor app and website.

April International Telehealth Coverage

Working in partnership with Teladoc Health, April International offers their policyholders optional out-patient coverage which covers 24/7 Telehealth services. Through their official mobile app, April International policyholders will be able to talk to in-network doctors for telehealth services.

Preparing for Telemedicine Consultations

To ensure efficient telemedicine consultations, there are a few things you need to prepare beforehand, from having all the necessary documents ready on hand to preparing specific questions regarding your symptoms and health concerns.

Here are some tips on how to prepare for your telemedicine consultation:

  • Gather your medical records: Having your medical records ready during the consultation will allow your healthcare provider to have a better understanding of your medical history and current condition for a more accurate diagnosis and consultation.
  • List down your symptoms and concerns: Preparing your list of symptoms can help you communicate your concerns more effectively, allowing your provider to address your situation directly
  • Prepare medication information: It is important to have a list of any medication you are currently taking and the dosages ready for your consultation. This information will allow your doctor to prescribe medication that is right for you and won’t interfere with other medications you are on.
  • Find a quiet and well-lit location for the consultation: Be sure to choose a quiet location that also has sufficient lighting for your consultation. This can not only ensure that your doctor can hear you clearly, but it also provides you with confidentiality.
  • Have a translator or interpreter present: If you do not speak Chinese or cannot find a provider that supports your language, having a translator or interpreter present is vital in making your consultation effective. Having a friend or colleague to convey your worries can make a world of difference.

Finding an Insurance Plan in China

Securing the right insurance is crucial for expats in China as the healthcare costs can be quite high, especially in major hubs such as Shanghai and Beijing. While locals and permanent residents have access to universal healthcare, most expats won’t have access to this benefit.

When securing any insurance plan, research is crucial. Telemedicine is typically available as an add-on benefit and not a core benefit in health insurance plans in China.

 It is essential to keep in mind that specific telemedicine services, coverage limits, and access will vary depending on the insurance plan.

It is also critical that you carefully review the details of the insurance plan to see how telemedicine services are covered and how you can access this service.

To make this process easier, expats can enlist the help of insurance brokers such as Pacific Prime to simplify their insurance journey. Insurance brokers can provide you with insurance options based on your needs and requirements, drastically reducing the amount of research you will need to do.

If you are an expat in China, you may also be interested in learning more about securing insurance in China and emergency preparedness in our emergency preparedness guide.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Healthcare in China free for expats?

While healthcare is free in China for citizens and permanent residents, in the form of public health insurance, expats cannot benefit from it. Therefore, it is crucial that expats secure a health insurance plan to offset the high healthcare costs.

What medical issues can be addressed through telemedicine services in China?

Telemedicine in China can be used to address medical issues including primate care consultations for non-emergency conditions, chronic disease management, follow-up care, prescription refills, and mental health counseling.

Are there additional costs associated with telemedicine services in China?

The cost of telemedicine can vary between providers. Depending on your insurance plan, you may have full coverage for telemedicine or have co-pays. It is important to refer back to your policy details before using telemedicine services to avoid paying out-of-pocket unnecessarily.

Are telemedicine consultations covered in insurance plans in China?

Many insurers in China, such as Ping An, offer telemedicine as an add-on benefit to their health insurance plans. When securing your health insurance, be sure to check if telemedicine services are available if you want to have access to them in China.

Conclusion

As telemedicine services continue to develop in China, expats and digital nomads, especially those based in remote areas, will be able to benefit from all the benefits the service provides, from saving transportation costs to making it easier to find English-speaking healthcare providers in China.

As telemedicine is typically an add-on benefit or provided through a third-party partnership, securing a plan with telemedicine services included as an expat can be difficult. This is where an insurance broker like Pacific Prime can help!

As a global insurance broker with over two decades of experience in the industry, Pacific Prime’s team of expert advisors can help you sort through countless plans from top insurers in China to help you find the best insurance plan with telemedicine services.

Contact us today for a free plan comparison and an obligation-free quote!

Content Creator at Pacific Prime
Vista is a content creator at Pacific Prime. With over 8 years of writing experience for online platforms on various topics such as luxury lifestyle and digital entertainment. He enjoys diving into complex and otherwise confusing topics, and creating easy-to-understand content for the readers to help them navigate through the topic - something that’s perfectly aligned with Pacific Prime’s motto of ‘simplifying insurance’.

Born and raised in the cultural melting pot that is Hong Kong, and having studied at an international school, Vista has developed a multicultural perspective that he uses in his writing and strives to connect to people of different backgrounds.

In his free time, Vista enjoys immersing himself in different worlds, from video games to light novels and movies. His hobbies help him expand his writing style by putting himself in the point-of-view of different people and characters.
Vista Nip
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