China / Society

Doctors encouraged to work second jobs

By SHAN JUAN (China Daily) Updated: 2015-01-09 09:56

The top health authority vowed to further facilitate private operators to enter the nation's overloaded healthcare market, particularly at the high end, said Li Bin, head of the National Health and Family Planning Commission.

To enable that, the administration is encouraging physicians to practice medicine at more than one medical institution, including private operators, by reforming the doctor registration system on a trial basis at first, Li said at the annual work conference of the commission on Wednesday.

"Limited resources of talent will be optimized among hospitals of various types under the initiative, which helps with the sustainable and healthy development of privately funded medical institutions," she said.

Currently, most skilled physicians work in public hospitals and need permission from the hospital authorities to practice at other institutions.

They essentially "belong" to the public hospital, a status that is also represented in their license to practice medicine issued by the health authorities.

Gong Xiaoming, a senior gynecologist at the public Shanghai First Maternity and Infant Hospital, said that limitation "may deter physicians from practicing at other hospitals as they don't want to upset the public hospitals they work for".

Gong, who works at private hospitals in addition to Shanghai First Maternity, said, "Some patients followed me to the private institutions for their better environment and services, despite the far higher cost.

"To cut off the subsidiary relationship between public hospitals and physicians is key to liberating and optimizing medical resources, particularly doctors," he said.

The southern boomtown of Shenzhen has spearheaded the initiative.

From late last year, local doctors have been allowed to practice at more than one institution provided they informed the public hospital that was their primary employer, media reports said.

Dwight W. Clark, medical director of the privately funded US-Sino HeartCare Center in Beijing, said the center welcomes the initiative.

"That will surely help us recruit local staff," he said.

Li, of the National Health and Family Planning Commission, called on private health institutions to provide a range of healthcare services, both treatment and prevention, to help divert patients from public hospitals, which are usually overloaded with work.

She also urged that telemedicine be strengthened to enhance access to quality medical care, particularly for people in the less-developed countryside.

Huang Linping, a professor of general surgery at China-Japan Friendship Hospital, said he had treated patients via telemedicine for nearly three years.

Most of those patients were in remote regions of Guizhou and Yunnan provinces.

"The new technology helps improve access to quality treatment for patients there and also helps train local doctors," he said.

Huang expects that telemedicine will make remote surgery using robotic surgery tools possible in the near future.

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