What happened

Shares of 111 (YI -0.98%) soared 76% on Thursday before reversing course with a decline of 5.4% as of 12:45 p.m. EST. Even with the reversal, the Chinese online healthcare platform stock has more than doubled in the past week and has year-to-date gains greater than 250%. 

YI Chart

YI data by YCharts

So what

Ten-year-old 111 operates a leading Chinese digital and mobile healthcare platform. The telehealth segment has gained popularity with the success of Teledoc Health (TDOC -1.36%) in the U.S., and this Chinese company is aiming to follow that path. Investors appear to now be looking for the next Teledoc.

patient online with doctor for telemedicine

Image source: Getty Images.

Now what

111 isn't nearly the size of Teledoc Health, with a market capitalization of around $2 billion. Teledoc has grown to a $40 billion company. But the demographics in China are compelling for the sector. 111 says it is the first Chinese telemedicine company listed publicly in the U.S. 

The company's business segments include an online pharmacy platform for businesses and consumers, and online doctor care. The company completed two rounds of funding in the second half of 2020 for the purpose of expanding the business, for a total of almost $150 million. 

At the time of the most recent investment round, in Dec. 2020, Mr. Junling Liu, 111 co-founder, chairman, and CEO, said in a statement, "Our biggest challenge today is responding to the overwhelming number of opportunities with which we are being confronted."

Many investors like to look for the next big thing. And China has a population that could support this industry, if it fits culturally. For U.S. investors, my advice would be to tread carefully, do the research, and treat any potential investment in 111 as speculative. 

This article represents the opinion of the writer(s), who may disagree with the "official" recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We're motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.