Taobao pulls the plug on outpatient booking service

2013-05-24 01:18:55 GMT2013-05-24 09:18:55(Beijing Time)  Shanghai Daily

China's biggest e-commerce platform Taobao.com has shut down part of its new online outpatient appointment service in Beijing after health authorities accused it of misleading patients and putting their privacy in danger.

With the service, patients could make appointments at hospitals across the country by using their Taobao account and providing their name, ID card number and cell phone number.

The service's main selling point was that it reduces wait times at hospitals, which can last several hours.

However, Beijing health authorities said Taobao didn't build an appointment platform.

They said Taobao simply directed patients to the city's public online outpatient appointment website, www.bjguahao.gov.cn, according to Beijing Youth Daily.

Patients can use the government website without a Taobao account, the newspaper said.

Zhong Dongbo, spokesman with the Beijing Health Bureau, said in a press conference that Taobao didn't provide any online outpatient appointment service on its platform.

"Taobao gave patients an additional barrier where they have to use their names, phone numbers and ID card numbers before they can reach the government platform, which is completely unnecessary," Zhong said.

Zhong added the process made it more difficult for patients to make an online appointment while it also put their private information at risk of being leaked.

The service may also mislead them or waste their time with false information, Zhong added.

The service is still operating in Shanghai and other cities.

Taobao said in an announcement yesterday that its service was simply meant to reduce wait times in hospitals and prevent scalpers from booking appointments and selling them to others.

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Editor: Yu Runze
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