More than 90 percent of the world has licensed, private doctors. But in China it’s still a relatively new concept. Chinese doctors are increasingly leaving public hospitals for the private sector. Our reporter Lin Nan tells us why.
China Doctors Moving to Private PracticesMore than 90 percent of the world has licensed, private doctors. But in China it's still a relatively new concept. Chinese doctors are increasingly leaving public hospitals for the private sector. Our reporter Lin Nan tells us why.
“Dr. Smile”, that’s how Zhang Qiang styles himself. He is China’s foremost expert on vascular surgery and holds two national patents.
But his days working in a public hospital were anything but great. He left public healthcare in late 2012, to become a private doctor.
“In public hospitals, patients don’t have enough interaction with doctors. Their trust mainly falls on hospitals rather than doctors themselves. While in clinics, we are responsible for patients directly. It makes us busier, but it brings us more self-satisfaction. I feel more like a real doctor,” says Zhang.
The public hospital system required Zhang to see more than 100 patients a day, while in private practice, he sees no more than nine patients each day. And he earns as much as an entire department at a top-tier public hospital. But more freedom also means more risks.
In 2009, the Ministry of Health opened the door to private practice by allowing doctors to practice medicine at multiple sites. Rising tensions between doctors and patients, poor pay and other unfavorable working conditions have driven more doctors into private practice. Dr. Gong Xiaoming is currently practicing in both a public hospital and at private clinics.
“In the public hospital system, doctors are poorly paid, and some of them choose to take bribes from patients or over prescribe drugs. In private clinics, doctors can make decent pay from their skills and services – market prices will reflect their value,” says Dr. Gong Xiaoming.
While giving doctors more choice and better working conditions, the dual system also allows doctors to practice at multiple sites, maximizing the country’s medical talent.
Currently, China maintains heavy limitations on private clinics. They are excluded from the health insurance system, which covers over 1.3 billion people.
To bring dignity back to Chinese doctors, maximize their potential and minimize constrains of China’s health system, the road for medical reform is still long.
Robert Kemp, Economist and Professor at the University of Louisiana, joined CCTV’s discussion on pharmaceutical industry.