Like other fast-developing economies in Asia, China skipped much of the land telephone line infrastructure investments that other countries spent decades deploying and moved almost directly to mobile infrastructure.
One might expect a similar “leapfrog” approach for digital content delivery infrastructure. But that’s not what’s happening when it comes to distributing digital medical records. The Chinese government is establishing standards that make optical discs a required distribution option for digital patient records for years to come.
Same consumers, different infrastructure strategy. Why?
Voice communications are mostly temporary, while digital content persists.
Chinese consumers don’t need anything but a handset to make voice communications work, whether with copper or over the airwaves.
But digital content like medical records need to last. Moving from physical distribution to online distribution requires more than a new handset. It will take time – possibly decades – for all Chinese consumers to have the connections and technology to access their medical records online.
Meanwhile, optical discs act much like the analog x-ray and MRI film they replace: passive, personal records that are easily transported and re-used for decades.
The transition will occur eventually. But the physical delivery phase of medical records in China cannot be skipped.