China is entering a new era in medicine, in which healthcare systems will manage more treatments and cures than ever before. Budding technology such as mobile health and data analytics offers smart options to old problems. Yet core challenges remain, not least in accessing affordable care.
For China, the situation is framed by a context of development, where economic growth and urbanisation have come with changes such as new work patterns and physical activity, together with an aging population. Such trends have contributed to increases in non-communicable diseases (NCDs). To present an idea of the scale, the World Health Organization (WHO) documents that in 2012, there were 38 million deaths worldwide from NCDs including 8.6 million in China alone. In terms of finance, data from the WHO show China’s total expenditure on health was 5.6 percent of GDP in 2013.