China / Society

Reforms vital for hospital service

By Liu Xiangrui (China Daily) Updated: 2015-01-29 07:58

Political advisers of the Beijing committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference urged quicker and deeper reforms of the city's healthcare system during its recent annual meeting.

Experts and medical professionals on the committee pointed out that medical services heavily dependent on labor are severely undervalued in the current system, while the costs of medical checks, medical equipment and some medicines can be reduced.

According to Wang Chengxiang, a doctor at Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, the costs of more than 4,300 of 5,300 medical items were set in 1999, and since then the average price has increased by 18 percent and average income is four times greater.

"The current medical service prices can hardly support the normal operation of hospitals," said Hai Li, a doctor at Beijing's Nanyuan Hospital.

Large hospitals have to depend on the medical services they provide to patients to support their employees' incomes and development, said Jia Jidong, director of the Liver Disease Research Center at Capital Medical University.

This situation has resulted in overloading of medical workers and unsatisfactory service for patients, Jia said.

Ao Hushan, director of the Medical Insurance Office at Fuwai Hospital, suggested that Beijing should accelerate use of the diagnosis-related group system of medical care to break the link between doctors' incomes and prescriptions, thereby preventing excessive medical treatments and overprescription of drugs.

DRG classifies patients by diagnosis, average length of hospital stay, and therapy received. The classification is used to determine how much money healthcare providers will be given to cover future procedures and services.

Beijing has experimented with DRG in six of its hospitals since 2011. However, Ao believed the city should take further steps.

"Only some diseases are included in the program," said Ao.

While the government has encouraged patients to have initial diagnosis at community hospitals and only visit larger hospitals for major illnesses, Jia from Capital Medical University suggested the adoption of policies favoring basic-level hospitals and medical workers.

Obstacles to the career advancement of medical workers at lower-level hospitals should be eliminated, Jia said.

"We must keep those skilled medical workers at community hospitals since they are the key to attracting patients and winning patients' trust in those hospitals," he said.

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