China / Society

Private hospitals 'have key role'

( Updated: 2014-04-23 17:01

Although private hospitals are much weaker than public hospitals in China, they can still serve as the starting point for China's medical reform, according to an article in Dongfang Daily.


It is difficult for private hospitals to enter the nation's medical care insurance network, and few good doctors wish to work for these hospitals.

Reform can solve the first difficulty, but it is not that hard to tackle the second issue.

The government has tried to give doctors the freedom to work for different hospitals in some pilot reform areas since 2009, but the doctors must first obtain approval from hospital directors. This conditional freedom has not produced real change .

Another reason is the distorted supply-demand situation in the Chinese medicine market. There are so many middlemen between pharmaceutical enterprises and consumers that all costs are shifted on to the consumers.

Public hospitals rely heavily on selling medicines to generate revenue. Statistics show that between 40 percent and 50 percent of public hospitals' revenue comes from medicines, while the proportion for private hospitals is less than 20 percent.

Still, treatment charges in public hospitals are much lower than those in private ones. As a result, many good doctors rely on patients' gifts, such as cash or other types of presents, to increase their income.

In contrast, private hospitals are trying their best to lower medicine prices. There is no need for doctors in private hospitals to over-prescribe for their patients. Providing a better service for patients than the public hospitals is the main advantage of private hospitals in China.

The government should place good doctors more fairly in hospitals under different ownership to meet increasing public demand. Giving doctors their overdue freedom to practice, and reforming the medicine market can help to promote competition among hospitals.

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