Tag Archives: Taiwan’s National Health Insurance System

Chinese hospitals rush to copy Taiwan model

With 600 beds, the No. 1 People’s Hospital in Jiande, Zhejiang province, China, is the area’s largest medical facility. Standing at the nursing station in the hospital’s cardiology ward, a young nurse is pushing a mobile nursing cart developed by Taiwan’s Chang Gung Memorial Hospital. The scanner used to verify patient ID wristbands is also a Taiwanese product.

“Today, mainland hospitals are all studying the Taiwan model,” says Hong Ying, the director of the hospital’s outpatient service center. Hong, who has worked at the hospital for more than 20 years and previously spent a week visiting Taiwanese hospitals, cannot help but praise Taiwan’s medical services, reported Commonwealth monthly.

Chinese hospitals are undertaking major reforms designed to move them into the high-tech age. Taiwan’s healthcare professionals are increasingly being lured to China, but at the same time the island’s healthcare sector is able to exploit new commercial opportunities by riding the momentum of China’s medical reforms.

China is already the world’s third largest healthcare market, but serious problems such as the lack of access to care and its high cost represent potential time bombs that could easily trigger social turmoil, underscoring the urgency for medical reforms.

Over the next five years, more than 30,000 Chinese hospitals will focus their efforts on “hospital management” and “information”. That has created demand from exporting medical services to guiding China’s hospitals in getting international certifications and even managing hospitals or planning new facilities.

Chen Hsiu-chu, vice superintendent of the Changhua Christian Hospital in central Taiwan, spent three quarters of her time on the mainland, leading Taiwanese and Chinese colleagues around China to offer mainland hospitals some guidance. These deals added at least NT$30-NT$40 million (US$1-1.34 million) a year to Changhua hospital’s income, a vital source of revenue to supplement the reimbursements it receives from Taiwan’s National Health Insurance System.

The China Medical University in Taichung (central Taiwan) has transferred its hospital management information system to a Taiwanese hospital management company operating in China. That company will adapt the system into a version suitable for Chinese medical institutions.

“The rights fees are NT$5 million (US$167,000), plus at least an additional 10 percent cut of all future contracts, which will be of some help to the school’s finances,” says ChinaMedicalUniversity vice president Walter Chen. The new system will be used first in Qingyuan People’s Hospital in Guangdong Province in China.

The Taipei Medical University Hospital is another focal point for Chinese hospitals looking to learn from Taiwan. The 3,000-bed Taipei Medical University Hospital system has brought together hardware and software vendors from Taiwan’s information and communications technology sector to introduce much needed information, nursing, and mobile physician order entry systems and cloud computing capabilities at Ningbo First Hospital in Zhejiang Province in China. The whole system is worth more than 1 million renminbi.

Commonwealth stressed that in the pursuit of renminbi, Taiwan’s hospitals must also remember China’s predatory strategic framework consisting of importing, digesting, absorbing, innovating and overtaking. China sets its sights on a new technology, learns about it from the outside world, replicates it and then undercuts its former partners and other players using cutthroat pricing.

This consistently successful model has already afflicted many Taiwanese businesses in China trying to go it alone, offering a cautionary reminder to Taiwan’s medical sector that it cannot feverishly chase renminbi without contemplating the potential long-term consequences of such actions, the magazine warned.