Online Health Consultations Rising amid Virus Scare

Society Lifestyle Economy

Tokyo, June 29 (Jiji Press)--Health consultation services connecting users with medical experts online are becoming popular in Japan amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.

The government is looking to support such services, which are expected to become alternatives to hospital visits at a time when fears of catching the virus keep many from going to checkups.

Under the services, users can communicate with doctors and other experts via text messages or voice. While the doctors cannot give diagnoses through the services, they can advise users on visiting medical institutions as needed.

The industry ministry began a support project in March to make health consultation services by Line Healthcare Corp., a unit of free messaging app provider Line Corp. <3938>, and MedPeer Inc. <6095> available free of charge. The project has since expanded to cover two more service providers, and its end date has been pushed back by two months from the end of this month.

Line Healthcare's service utilizes the Line app in linking users with registered doctors. Some 2,000 doctors, such as internal medicine physicians and dermatologists, are available for the service. An official of the company said that the number of consultation cases in February, when fears over the COVID-19 epidemic started to spread, grew 40-fold from the previous month, and that consultations continue to increase.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press