Saturday, 28 December 2013

Ways to ease doctor-patient tensions

by Hu Jia 
The number of incidents against doctors and nurses in 2013 has increased nearly 8 percent compared to 5 years ago, according to figures released by the Chinese Hospital Association. Over-prescription by doctors, a way to increase revenue for hospitals and doctors themselves, is believed to be a source of increasing complaints by the patients.
Data shows about 40 percent of hospital revenue comes from medicine sales, with another 40 to 50 percent from diagnostic tests and treatments.
The Chinese government has been tackling the problem in recent years.
Chen Zhu was former Chinese Health Minister, who stepped down from the post in March 2013.
He said the government aims to relieve doctors the burden of marketing medicines.
"To separate drug sales from medical treatment, we have rescinded the policy for hospitals on medicine prices, under which hospitals were allowed to raise prices by up to 15 percent. This would help curb over-prescription and unnecessary check-ups."
It's hoped the reform effort will help reduce costs in the healthcare system, reducing patient complaints and violence.

Meanwhile, the misallocation of doctors and medical resources has also been cited as a problem.
Zhu Yan, a former internist at Peking Union Medical College Hospital, says this problem has undermined the quality of medical services.
"In the public hospitals, the patient needs to queue up when checking in and wait in line to meet the doctor in person. Moreover, other services like receiving your subscribed medicine and getting your fee paid all require queuing up. While patients waste loads of hours wait through all the procedures, they only have a couple of minutes to actually talking and receiving treatment. No wonder most of the patients don't have any clues about their diseases or prognosis except a big ticket of subscription medicine."
Liu Guo'en, a professor from the National School of Development at Peking University, explains the reasons beind.
"Because the doctors are fixed in one medical institution, it leads us to go to see them no matter how minor may the illness be, as we know, only the good hospitals have the good doctors. So if we can speed up efforts to allow doctors to provide services for more than one hospital, to let regional and community hospitals have the trustworthy medical service, the problem may ease a little bit."
Analysts say the free flow of doctors between medical institutions will likely mean more competition between hospitals.
That will require hospitals to focus more on medical quality and reputation, and provide better salaries for doctors.
But Liu says there are other benefits from letting doctors be more mobile.
"If doctors really achieve the status of acting as free practitioners, I think it will make the regulatory and supervisory job more easily and efficiently. Despite the related regulation from government level, we could check their conducts from the social and professional association's perspective. Meanwhile doctors will have to be more self-disciplined. Currently, the regulatory system faces the dilemma of 'playing the game while acting as the referee.'"
The Shanghai Health and Family Planning Commission has announced that it's now encouraging health professionals at state-owned hospitals to work at private medical facilities.
It's also encouraging foreign investors to set up fully owned hospitals in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone.
Source: CRI

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