China has banned hospitals from providing medical assistance and diagnosesonline to prevent people unqualified in medicine from posing as doctors. Chinese patients are accustomed to seeking medical advice on the Internet, which has a deep penetration in the country.

Some private hospitals have launched Internet services offering online diagnoses.

Song Shuli, spokeswoman for the National Health and Family Planning Commission, said that these services could be misused to provide medical assistance by people who are unqualified in medicine, unlike face-to-face diagnosis. Song only referred to services provided to individuals. Consultations between hospitals and doctors are not banned, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

In January, the regulator started a pilot scheme allowing Beijing’s People’s Liberation Army General Hospital, Peking Union Medical College Hospital and China-Japan Friendship Hospital to give online diagnoses to patients in five less- developed regions including Ningxia and Yunnan.

Patients must register before accessing the services. Song said the regulator will continue to improve policies guaranteeing the reliability of online medical services.

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