Tencent doubles down on healthcare, tests medical services on WeChat

By Jill Shen
2 min read

Tencent is testing real-time clinic services in its WeChat wallet feature and mini-program ecosystem, the latest move for the social and gaming giant as it pushes forward in transforming the public health sector.

Chinese media TMTPost reported on Monday that a mini-program dubbed “Tencent Health” has been undergoing testing on super messaging app WeChat since mid-March. To date, e-health services available to users include online consultations and medication delivery as well as online appointments for offline hospitals. The mini-program is also accessible on WeChat Pay’s interface as an in-app service to users based in Shenzhen.

In a trial conducted by TechNode on Monday afternoon, Zhang, a doctor from Wuhu First People Hospital in the eastern Chinese province of Anhui answered real-time via chat almost immediately after a reporter filed a consultation request about the flu. The doctor asked a total of five questions concerning symptoms, medicines that were being taken, and duration during the 10-minute consultation. The session concluded with the recommendation to continue “taking medicine for one more day to see treatment effects.”

Screenshot of the chat log during online consultation with Tencent Health physician (Image credit: Jill Shen / TechNode).

WeChat is very important in terms of traffic volume, Yu Ying, COO of Tencent Trusted Doctors said in a press event in late March. The Tencent-backed e-health startup provides online consultations with more than 440,000 qualified Chinese doctors available in its system. Pharmacy chain Star365 offers over-the-counter medicine sales and delivery via WeChat. When contacted by TechNode on Monday, a Tencent spokesman said the company currently has no plans to charge for the services.

Launched by Tencent’s Cloud and Smart Industries business group (CSIG), the e-health service is the group’s debut to users on WeChat and signals Tencent’s pivot toward the industrial internet. CSIG was formed amid a round of Tencent’s restructuring in late September, with a focus of delivering digital solutions to traditional industries including healthcare, mobility, and education.

“Tencent will adopt a unique C2B (Consumer-to-Business) method to serve business clients, connecting industry value chains from production to consumption with our advantages in consumer-facing businesses, ” Dowson Tong, senior executive vice president of Tencent and president of CSIG, said in a company event in November.