Hospitals offering medical advice online should not provide diagnoses via these services, ruled China's health regulator Sunday.
In an Internet era, Chinese patients are accustomed to seeking medical advice on the Internet. Some private hospitals have launched Internet services offering online diagnosis.
Song Shuli, spokeswoman for the National Health and Family Planning Commission, said these services may be provided 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.
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.