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Advanced tech to shape healthcare industry fortunes

By Du Juan | China Daily | Updated: 2019-08-09 09:51

A visitor tries out a device that helps patients recover from injuries during an expo in Beijing. [Photo by Lei Kesi/For China Daily]

Advanced technologies including 3D printing, 5G and artificial intelligence will become an inevitable trend of China's health industry whose market value will reach 20 trillion yuan ($2.84 trillion) by 2030, an industry expert said.

Luo Jun, secretary-general of the International Health Industry Forum, a Beijing-based think tank comprising experts from 11 countries focusing on healthcare industry promotion, said on Wednesday that China's healthcare industry chain still lags behind those in the developed countries. Thus, the potential is huge.

"The healthcare industry chain is complete in both upstream and downstream sectors in European countries and the United States. However, it's still at the beginning stage here," he said.

At present, China's healthcare industry involves mainly high-end health checkup services, specialty hospitals, aged care and elderly care real estate while in the developed countries, the industry covers mature community medical and health operations which provide business opportunities in pharmaceuticals, medical-related trading, healthy and organic food as well as health insurance, Luo said.

According to the National Health Commission, the market value of China's healthcare industry was around 5 trillion yuan in 2018. Its contribution to the nation's GDP is approximately 5 percent. In developed countries, the figure is more than 15 percent.

China published the "Healthy China Action (2019-30)" plan in July, which is a complete national action plan covering the important areas of healthcare, including infant and maternal health, mental health, aging, healthy lifestyle promotion and education, as well as health services and security.

According to the plan, China will increase the share of the healthcare industry in the national GDP from the current 5 percent to 15 percent by 2030, which means the industry will have a market value of 8 trillion yuan by the end of 2020 and grow to 20 trillion yuan by 2030.

"More high-end science and technology will be applied to the industry, which will be a major incentive for industrial growth," Luo said. "For instance, 3D printing has been used in many surgeries, which has solved certain medical difficulties, but its usage is limited to a small number and very low when compared with the demand."

Peking University Third Hospital successfully implanted the world's first 3D printed artificial spine onto a patient in 2016, which was considered a milestone in the field.

Liu Zhongjun, leader of the 3D printed artificial spine research team at the hospital, said previously, without this technology, they can do nothing but say sorry to the patients.

Now, the technology helps more patients to recover and lead a healthy life, he said.

In June this year, Shandong Provincial Hospital combined 3D printing and 5G tech to livesteam a kidney stone surgery.

The doctor used a 3D printed digital kidney to locate the best puncture point and more than 30 experts on urology from all over the country watched the surgery through 5G signals.

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