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TikTok company buys China’s largest women’s and children’s hospital chain


ByteDance, the Chinese company that owns controversial video blogging platform TikTok, quietly took over China’s largest chain of private obstetrics and gynecology hospitals in June.

The South China Morning Post (SCMP) reviewed documents on Friday showing that ByteDance was acquiring full ownership of Beijing Amcare Medical Management Company.

This completed an acquisition process that began in September 2021 when ByteDance’s healthcare investment subsidiary, Xiaohe Health Technology, purchased 17% of Amcare. Xiaohe then bought another 13%. Amcare recently delisted from the Shenzhen Public Exchange, paving the way for the final stage of the company’s acquisition.

The repurchase agreement was approved without reservations or conditions by China’s State Administration for Market Regulation in mid-June, according to the SCMP report. Several ByteDance executives soon appeared on Amcare’s board.

ByteDance is obviously looking to establish itself in the growing Chinese market for e-health services, a product that has exploded in popularity during the coronavirus pandemic. ByteDance’s Xiaohe division launched two medical apps in late 2020: an online “medical consultation” app for those looking for healthcare services and a matchmaking app that validates referrals from doctors who want to offer themselves as providers.

The SCMP According to quoted estimates, e-healthcare was a 22 billion yuan industry in 2020, but will reach 198 billion yuan ($29 billion) by 2025. Most Chinese tech giants are entering the market, including heavyweights like Tencent and Alibaba.

Along the same lines, Amazon.com acquired a chain of 188 clinics called One Medical last month, with the aim of establishing an online service that would become the digital “gateway” to clinics.

Amazon business planners thought they could dramatically improve the “customer experience” at clinics, presumably by handling all office functions and paperwork online so patients would spend less time on site waiting to see doctors.

Chinese e-health systems to understand some remote interaction between doctors and patients, sometimes eliminating the need for patients to travel to physical clinics. Before the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic broke out, a pioneering project called Wuzhen Internet Hospital offered online diagnostics and direct shipment of medicine to patients. Wuzhen Internet Hospital has maintained the smallest physical facility possible to comply with Chinese law, having only 20 beds for the entire operation.

The booming e-healthcare market in China took a hit in November 2021, when the communist government issued a tougher set of regulations, including a ban on using online consultations to make an initial diagnosis and a ban on using artificial intelligence systems to answer patient questions instead of a qualified human doctor.

Apparently, these practices were widespread, as e-health providers lost up to 30% of the value of their inventory overnight. Chinese state media has hinted that more regulations on the sale of prescription drugs and user privacy could be coming, further depressing the industry.

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