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China's public hospital reforms aim to reduce wait times

2024-05-14 09:53:19Source: Xinhua
BEIJING, May 14, 2024 -- Upon his arrival at Nanjing Drum Tower Hospital in East China's Jiangsu province on May 5, Chen Fan (pseudonym) was advised by the consulting doctor to undergo a chest CT scan; however, due to time constraints, the scan results were not immediately available, leaving Chen worried about securing another appointment.
But, thanks to an efficient approach, Chen was able to consult his doctor twice within three days through a single appointment, accessing his results and receiving further consultation on May 7, all facilitated by a new policy aimed at enhancing patient convenience in Jiangsu's public hospitals.
This policy reflects China's ongoing commitment to improving services in public hospitals, with a particular emphasis on reducing wait times and addressing the diverse needs of patients.
One-stop services
Long wait times for registration, medical examinations and settling hospital bills were once common grievances among patients in Chinese hospitals. However, recent reforms have resulted in a remarkable transformation.
According to the National Health Commission, over 5,500 comprehensive hospitals at the second grade and above now provide "one-stop" services, enabling 77.7 percent of hospitalized patients to settle their bills on the day of discharge.
In the city of Zhoukou in Central China's Henan province, inpatients spend only three to five minutes to complete discharge procedures, according to Ji Jianjun, mayor of Zhoukou.
Furthermore, mutual recognition of medical examination results has been achieved in 88.2 percent of public hospitals at the second grade and above, reducing the need for repetitive tests at different facilities.
Patients have long desired an experience free from the need for physical medical cards, and this has become a reality at the First Affiliated Hospital under Zhejiang University School of Medicine. Using only their mobile phones, patients can access all services, from making appointments to settling bills, resulting in a 90 percent reduction in wait times on average, according to Liang Tingbo, the hospital's Party chief.
The hospital has also improved its sickbed management, reducing the average wait time for hospitalization from 10 days to 3.5 days and shortening the average hospital stay to 4.7 days, Liang said.
Meeting diverse needs
Public hospital reforms also aim to cater to the increasingly diverse needs of patients. More than 2,800 public hospitals at the second grade and above now offer various new outpatient services, such as anesthesia, pain management and health management, according to the NHC.
For homebound patients, medical institutions provide access to medical and nursing services. Since July last year, 182 medical institutions in Zhoukou have been delivering medical services to households, benefiting over 20,000 individuals, according to the mayor of Zhoukou.
Empowered by the internet, over 3,000 medical institutions in China offer medical and nursing services online for those unable to visit in person, data from the NHC revealed.
In response to the growing demand for elderly care, nursing homes in Beijing, Shandong and Jiangsu have seen significant growth in numbers in recent years while also providing in-home nursing services for elderly citizens.
The NHC is working with relevant departments to draft guidelines aimed at improving the skills of nurses and optimizing nursing services in order to foster a more compassionate experience for patients seeking medical care, according to Xing Ruoqi, an official at the healthcare reform department of the NHC.