The news recently came out that TikTok owner ByteDance paid $1.5 billion for Amcare Healthcare, one of China’s largest private hospital chains. You might be wondering why the owner of TikTok would want to buy a hospital chain. Also, I can already see the privacy critics coming to complain that TikTok (known for its privacy and tracking issues) owns a health organization. Can you imagine the uproar if the news got out that Facebook had acquired a major healthcare system in the US. It would run wild with privacy fears even more than the ones we heard when Amazon acquired OneMedical and Google acquired Fitbit.
While it’s interesting to see ByteDance acquiring a hospital, it probably has nothing to do with TikTok at all (side note: remember follow @healthcareittoday on TikTok). Maybe they could use some marketing on TIkTok, but I don’t really see it being connected at all. Instead, ByteDance also owns health app Xiahoe, which works in things like online health consultations, hospital appointments and wellness services.
What this relationship shows me is that China understands what seems to be happening in the US as well. If you want to tackle healthcare challenges, you need more than an app. The app can do many things and is even more powerful when connected to sensors and wearables. It is even more powerful when connected to a trained professional. However, to move the needle in healthcare, you still need to connect the app to some physical healthcare services. That’s why I think Amazon acquired OneMedical as well.
Something we often forget in the US is the size of the Chinese market. I learned this a long time ago when I watched an interview with a lady who hosted a travel show in China. For all intents and purposes it was an average travel show, but the show had 100 million viewers. Most NFL football games only draw about $30 million in viewers, and a great TV show in the US gets over $10 million in viewers. Yes, I know this is changing with streaming services, but it’s just to illustrate that many of us in the US don’t really understand the scale that exists in China. 1.4 billion people is much more than the 300 million in the US.
With that in mind, it will be interesting to see how ByteDance does in healthcare. They will operate on a scale that many of us in the US barely understand. For those of you on TikTok, don’t worry. It’s hard to imagine ByteDance acquiring an American healthcare system.
Get fresh healthcare and IT stories delivered daily
Join thousands of your healthcare and HealthIT peers who subscribe to our daily newsletter.