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How China’s Doctors Can Care for Its Population of 1.3 Billion

March 20, 2018, 8:20 PM UTC

China, with its population of 1.3 billion people, is home to several of the world’s largest cities.

But that presents a unique challenge when it comes to healthcare. How do you treat patients who live outside of these massive metropolitan areas?

“We have a big problem because most of the best doctors are based in big cities like Beijing and Shanghai,” said Dr. Jiren Liu, chairman and CEO of Chinese multinational Neusoft Corporation, at Fortune’s Brainstorm Health conference in Laguna Niguel, Calif. on Tuesday.

The result is that if people get sick, they not only have to bear the cost of treatment but also the cost of relocating to a major city while they undergo care. That’s where Neusoft comes in, Liu said. “We try to use digital technology to make that gap,” he explained.

Under the Neusoft model, doctors are independent, Liu says, and don’t belong to any hospital. But they can tap into the Neusoft infrastructure, which is essentially a virtual hospital. So far Neusoft has built more than 20 healthcare management centers in different cities, he said.

Would the Neusoft system work in the U.S? One cultural issue may be privacy, says Liu. “Americans don’t like people monitoring their individual data,” he explained, suggesting it’s not as big of a concern to the Chinese consumer.