Digital therapy may solve the shortage of rehabilitation professionals and improve the quality of medical care, and the government and industry association are setting standards and guidelines to promote its healthy development.
Smart medicine uses artificial intelligence, big data, and remote medicine to allow people with sports injuries, sub-health conditions, and post-surgery rehabilitation needs to exercise at home with wearable equipment and therapist guidance.
Liu Chongsheng with the Digital Therapy Commission of the China Association for Medical Devices Industry says digital rehabilitation is growing rapidly in China and has many applications.
"Smart medicine and digital solutions enable home training other than hospital or clinic visits. It will become an important part of rehabilitation services," he said.
"However, such medical devices should be registered and regulated. To ensure safety, high-risk equipment should be supervised. Classification remains unclear. Our association helps the National Medical Products Administration develop such standards and guidelines."
According to the General Administration of Sport, over 630 million people in the country regularly engage in physical activities. Sports injuries occur at a rate of 10 to 20 percent. Over 100 million people require treatment and rehabilitation for sports injuries and other diseases.
The growing elderly population has also led to an increase in the demand for rehabilitation. China will have 321 million people over the age of 60 by 2025, increasing to 400 million by 2032. Rehabilitation is a significant intervention method for degenerating body function and post-surgery care.
Local digital therapy facilities are actively involved in the development of smart-medicine equipment and prescriptions and have begun to receive international recognition as multinational conglomerates began.
Shanghai Medmotion Medical Management Co announced the signing of a strategic partnership agreement with Smith+Nephew, a global medical technology company based in the United Kingdom, to accelerate digital innovation and promote digital rehabilitation equipment for a "pre-operative, intra-operative and post-operative" complete solution.
Smith+Nephew is collaborating with a Chinese digital therapy company for the first time.
According to Zhao Qingyi, CEO of Medmotion, digital therapy is the latest trend in rehabilitation because it provides individualized and precise medicine in a convenient and smart manner.
In developed countries, there are 30 to 70 rehabilitation therapists for every 100,000 people. However, there are only 2.6 therapists for every 100,000 Chinese, and the majority of therapists work in major cities.