Beijingers will soon be able to make an appointment to see their doctor using WeChat, it was reported this week.
Twenty-one municipal hospitals in the capital will set up their own accounts on the messaging app, which may also allow patients to receive medical test results, according to the Beijing Morning Post.
Nine of the hospitals piloting the idea already have a presence on WeChat, though they currently only feature information about the hospital and staff, in addition to general medical advice.
As well as making appointment-booking more convenient for patients, there are hopes that the new scheme will help hospitals overcome the drawbacks of the current system. Patients have been known to face lengthy queues to book a slot in person. There have also been other reported problems, such as “scalpers” taking appointment tickets in the morning and selling them on to people looking to jump ahead.
The move may be a response to Tabao’s free hospital appointment booking service which launched in May 2013. Access to booking services through WeChat will be significantly smaller in scale however, as the online retailer began with over 600 hospitals registered on its system.
The news should mark a welcome development for the sort of over-enthusiastic WeChat users who admitted themselves to hospital for hand injuries when the messaging app launched its Space Invaders-style shooting game in August last year. At the time, an orthopedic doctor in Zhejiang province reported seeing an increase in patients suffering from WeChat-related inflammation of their hand tendons, according to Qianjiang Evening News.
Let us hope that the scramble for appointments does not lead to a similar jump in hospital admissions.
Image courtesy of Kleuske (Flickr)