Wang Hesheng, head of the health reform office under the State Council and deputy director of the National Health and Family Planning Commission, explained the building of medical treatment partnership at a regular policy briefing on April 14.
A guideline on building medical treatment partnership across the country was released at the State Council executive meeting on April 12.
According to Wang, the medical treatment partnership is a key measure in the reform process on medical care, insurance, and medicine. The policy will better allocate resources and deliver better medical treatment to the public, he said.
Wang said the partnership aimed to guide medical staff at the grassroots level and enable residents to receive high-quality care under a hierarchical diagnosis system near their homes.
By the end of last year, 205 cities have conducted pilots of the medical treatment partnership with initial results, he said.
Currently, four modes of the partnership have been rolled out, including urban medical clusters, county-level treatment partnerships, cross-region special medical treatment partnership, and the remote medical assistance network.
As the policy moves forward, more patients are being treated under the partnership model, with nearly 10 million patients transferred to higher-level medical institutions and more than 2.6 million referred to grassroots institutions by the end of 2016.
Wang believes that the partnership has made experts, technologies, trainings, and devices available to grassroots medical institutions, improving their services and facilities.
Diagnostic information and medical resources can be shared under the partnership, bringing benefits to patients while lowering treatment cost.
In 2017, more pilot partnerships will be set up with every provincial region expected to issue their own detailed plan. By 2020, medical partnerships will be set up nationwide, based on the experience of the pilots.
We will stick to the plan and promise to finish it on time, Wang said,
Wang said one of the benefits for the public is they are able to see a doctor near their home.
It also makes medical services convenient and comprehensive. Big hospitals will give preferential treatment to patients transferred from grassroots facilities while more family doctors will be trained to deal with chronic disease such as hypertension and diabetes.
Such a system is designed to cut costs for patients. Health insurance will be used more efficiently in medical partnerships. Insurance will also be leveraged to encourage patients to see a doctor first at grassroots hospitals. In this way, their financial burden will be eased because they do not have to go to faraway hospitals for satisfying services.
The deputy-director also commented on Beijing’s medical reform, saying the considerable measures have received a positive response from the public.
Beijing’s medical reform separates drug sales from medical treatment at public hospitals, adopts a “sunshine drug purchase” program and adjusts medical service prices, he said.
Liang Wannian, an official from the health reform office, also spoke about the different medical treatment partnership systems at the meeting.
Depending on each partnership’s organization framework, it has four forms - medical partnerships in cities and counties, cross-region partnership and a tele-medical network in remote and impoverished areas.
From the perspective of benefit relationship, it has two types - close and loosened partnership.
The close one aims to establish a community sharing common services, responsibilities and benefits.
In the long term, the close one will have better results if all medical associations in the partnership have clear responsibilities, Liang added.