Private hospitals must live up to their responsibilities – Opinion


Editor’s Note: From “barefoot doctors” to the most extensive and efficient medical insurance system, China has made remarkable achievements in the health sector. In the fourth in a series of commentaries, a veteran China Daily reporter traces the eventful course of China’s health care achievements.

Villagedoctor Xie Ai’e treats a patient at a clinic in Honghu City, Hubei Province. CHINA DAILY

For decades before China initiated reform and opening up, all hospitals in the country were owned by the state. When the country’s leaders decided to build more hospitals to meet the growing demand for health care from the Chinese people, they realized that governments at different levels did not have enough money to do so. It has therefore implemented a policy allowing individuals as legal entities to build and operate hospitals.

Some public hospitals, struggling to survive due to mismanagement, were sold to private individuals and quickly started to turn a profit. At the start of this century, China further opened up its health sector, leading to a boom in private hospitals in the country.

Of the more than 30,000 Chinese hospitals that provide inpatient services, more than 60% are privately owned. Enter such a hospital and ask where the owner is from and the likely answer you will get is: from Putian County in Fujian Province. When China opened up the healthcare industry more 20 years ago, savvy business leaders at Putian were the first to seize the opportunity by investing in the industry.

More than 20,000 businessmen from Dongzhuang City of Putian County operate thousands of hospitals of various scales across the country, employ up to 630,000 doctors and nurses, and make billions of yuan in profits every year .

While private owners are grateful for open market policies, they still complain that their hospitals do not receive equal treatment compared to public hospitals. Most private hospitals are not included in the Chinese medical insurance system, which means that patients who receive treatment at these hospitals have to pay out of their own pocket instead of being reimbursed by medical insurance companies. .

In addition, when such a hospital plans to purchase equipment, worth one million yuan ($ 153,639), it must seek approval from the local health authority. And it is more difficult for a private hospital to obtain a bank loan than a public hospital.

Private hospitals say such policies thwart their expansion plans. As a result, private hospitals are mostly small and specialize in treating certain conditions and conditions such as infertility and orthopedic cases, although they can keep operating costs low by employing fewer staff. staff and using less equipment.

Patients who visit these hospitals have their own set of complaints. And while general public hospitals, which are overcrowded with floods of patients, rarely run advertisements to attract patients, advertisements from private hospitals flood TV screens and are displayed on billboards across cities. Such advertisements often exaggerate the effectiveness of their medical services.

Once a patient goes to such a hospital, he or she has to undergo some necessary and unnecessary medical tests. Doctors could diagnose mild illness as acute, and a patient could be asked to be admitted to hospital although they did not need to be hospitalized. Worse, the doctor said to be an expert prescribing the hospitalization may not be qualified to do so.

Disputes between hospitals, especially doctors, and patients have become frequent and many cases of cheating on the part of these hospitals have been reported, resulting in many hospitals being blacklisted.

But for all their flaws, we cannot afford to let down private hospitals, which are the majority in China in urban and rural areas, simply because a few of them have acted unscrupulously. Instead, we need to implement policies that will help them improve their services and compete with public hospitals. When they engage in fair competition with public hospitals, patients will benefit the most.

Of course, the government should supervise private hospitals more strictly, in order to protect the interests of patients and to ensure that all hospitals comply with laws and regulations.

The central government recently announced that it will build more public non-profit hospitals to ensure that there are more than private hospitals and that patients get better medical services. It is a welcome move and a warning to private hospitals that their efforts to make a quick buck are coming to an end, and that they should take serious steps to improve their services if they are to survive, because quality matters. long term when it comes to medical treatment.

The author is the former deputy editor of China Daily.
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The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of China Daily and the China Daily website.

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