Saturday, 24 November 2012

China's haphazard hospital domain names cause confusion

by Michael Woodhead
Before seeing a doctor, many Chinese people will look at a hospital 's official website, but China's hospital official domain names are very confusing and the messy system invites deception and fraud, critics say
Investigations by reporters show that the official websites of some China's top hospitals have different suffixes and 56 different kinds of domain names have fifty-six kinds. Some have .cn suffixes such as the Beijing Union Medical College Hospital (, some are dot-coms, such as the Huaxi Hospital (; others are,  .org and even .net, such as the Henan Provincial People's Hospital (
These extensions have different meanings, and  the Director of the Centre of Telecommunications Research Institute at the Ministry of Industry and the Internet, Dr He Baohong, says that according to international norms, .com is the business enterprise domain, .net is the domain for network service providers, .org is the domain name for a non-profit organization, and .cn is China's national top-level domain. So it seems the use of the .com domain suffix by top hospitals does not reflect their public service or non-profit organisation role.
China's hospital domain naming system is also not user friendly. Domain names for major hospitals come in a wide variety, some are based on the hospital initials  such as the Sino-Japanese Friendship Hospital website (; some are named based on pinyin, such as Huashan Hospital website (www., some use the hospital name and "hospital" for the the domain name, such as the Fuwai Hospital website ( The domain names of some hospitals are just indecipherable, such as the Guangdong Provincial People's Hospital (, which looks like a "shanzai" (fake).
The  PR department of the Guangdong Provincial People's Hospital, said "e5413" really is the official website of the hospital, because "5413" is a homonym that sounds like "I am a doctor," aand the hospital wanted to take the name as a meaningful and easy to remember.
It is actually too simple for  hospitals to register the domain name, all  they  need to do is find a domain registrar and there are no strict requirements. Currently there are more than 80 domain name registrars, and registration can be made for .com, .org, .net, and .cn sites. All that is needed is a valid ID and often less than a hundred dollars you can register a domain name.
The hospital website name should standardised. Compared with hospitals, other public organisations that have contact with the daily life of ordinary people are named more systematically and according to regulations. The official websites of government departments are unified as,  the name mainly in English or with an abbreviation. For example, the Ministry of Health ( and the General Administration of Sport ( In the field of education, whether public or private the universities have endings, such as Peking University (, and Henan Vocational and Technical College, ( Internationally, the official websites of major hospitals are  almost all based on .org endings, such as Massachusetts General Hospital ( and Mayo Clinic ( Hospitals outside the Chinese mainland, use a local suffix and generally .org subdomains, such as Taiwan's Chang Gung Medical Group (, while Hong Kong hospitals are with the Hospital Authority ( .
Dr He Baohong says there are no obstacles to unified domain name specifications for hospitals in China. Public hospitals may be assigned to the non-profit organisation from the point of view of the meaning of the domain name, and the standardised suffix of choice would be .org, or For-profit hospitals have available domain suffixes such as .com or com. cn end, to give patients an idea at a glance. In addition, there is also the opportunity within the website domain name registrar to have unified domain names under This could be achieved as long as the health sector and public and private hospitals co-operate with each other.
Read more: China Healthcare

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