A local resident consults a staffer at the Family Doctor Assistant Workstation in Jing’an District, Shanghai, April 28, 2016. [Photo/Xinhua]
All citizens of China are expected to have access to a family doctor service by 2020, according to a guideline released on June 6 aimed at improving healthcare.
Promoting the service can help to address increasing health challenges posed by an aging population and more cases of chronic diseases.
A family doctor talks to a patient about the dosage of medicine she needs to take in Shanghai, April 28, 2016.[Photo/Xinhua]
Family doctors are expected to serve as health guards for Chinese people, according to a statement by the National Health and Family Planning Commission.
The guideline, released by the State Council’s Medical Reform Office, said the family doctor service will be promoted in 200 cities in China this year.
More than 30 percent of people in the country will be covered by the service by the end of 2017. That will include more than 60 percent of those in targeted groups, such as the elderly, pregnant women, children, and those with chronic diseases.
Qin Kun, an official dealing with healthcare reform at the commission, said the system will make healthcare services more accessible to the public and also reduce costs.
Doctors providing the service will mostly be general practitioners from grassroots hospitals and clinics, and qualified doctors working in rural areas.
Family members can choose to sign service contracts with family doctors for a one-year term and pay a fee. They can opt to renew the contract or choose to sign with another doctor after a year.
Han Zhengzheng, director of Desheng Community Health Service Center in Beijing’s Xicheng district, said China has borrowed practices from other countries, including the United States, in promoting the family doctor system.
The doctors will provide basic healthcare and medical services, and help to transfer patients to bigger hospitals if needed.
Chen Bowen, deputy director of the Community Health Association of China, said health insurance operators should join with health authorities in promoting the system, giving the public and family doctors incentives to embrace it.
The family doctor service has been tested in some areas, including Beijing and Shanghai, since 2011, according to the commission.