According to a Deloitte report, healthcare expenditures in China were about $511.3 billion or 5.4% of its GDP in 2013 and it was projected to grow at 11.8% to reach $892 billion by 2018. However, the quality of service remains dismal. China has 1.8 physicians and 1.7 nurses per 1,000 people compared to the US average of 2.4 physicians and 10.8 nurses per 10,00 people. GuaHao (GHAO) has gained entry to the Billion-Dollar Unicorn Club by addressing this gap.
Founded in 2010, GuaHao is a mobile medical and health consultation platform. Its Weiyi mobile apps connect patients with hospitals and doctors through the Internet. Typically, to access healthcare services, patients in China have to go to a hospital, take a token number, and wait for their turn. A patient scheduling system enables a more efficient allocation of healthcare resources.
GuaHao has an efficient information-sharing system and its well-designed, easy-to-use online platform allows patients to access their personal calendars, local hospitals and physicians and helps them make appointments within minutes. Today, it claims to have over 1,600 hospitals listed on its platform, with 190,000 specialists and 100 million registered users.
Several online appointment registration systems have sprung up in China. However, GuaHao has the distinction of being authorized by the National Health and Family Planning Commission of the People's Republic of China (or the Ministry of Health).
GuaHao has raised $495 million in total from investors including Tencent Holdings, Hillhouse Capital Group, Goldman Sachs, Fosun International and China Development Industrial Bank. Its latest round of funding raised $395 million in September 2015 at a valuation of $1.5 billion.
GuaHao plans to use $300 million of the funds to build a nationwide Internet platform for diagnosis and treatment. It also plans to create five surgery centers in cooperation with top-end local medical companies. The company also is changing its name to the Weiyi Group to reflect its broader healthcare goals. Its web portal will continue to be Guahao.com.
Guahao has a symbiotic relationship with Tencent (OTCPK:TCEHY) - it gains from the reach of Tencent's social networking platforms and it enhances Tencent's foray into the online health space. Apart from its investment of more than $100 million in GuaHao, Tencent has invested in a social network for doctors called Medlinker, an after diagnosis service Miashou, and $150 million in Zhuojian China that builds platforms and apps for public hospitals. It also invested $70 million in DXY, which started as a doctor community platform and recently launched brick-and-mortar clinics.
Alibaba (NYSE:BABA) and Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU) are two other major players that are foraying into the health sector. Alibaba Health Information Technology was launched in 2014 with Yunfeng Capital, a private-equity firm set up by Alibaba founder Jack Ma. Baidu recently launched a healthcare portal Jiankang that enables users to make doctor appointments online.
Competition is heating up in this lucrative market, but it remains to be seen what company will be successful in the long term.