By Chen Libin, GBI Analyst
In September of 2009, the MOH issued the “Notice on issues concerning physician practice at different medical institutions” (WEGF (2009) No.86). According to this notice, physicians will be allowed to practice at a maximum of three medical institutions with approval from local health bureaus, and new practice affiliations will be added to Physicians’ Practicing Certificates. Guangzhou province and Kunming city in Yunnan province were selected as pilot areas for the policy.
In 2010, the MOH expanded the pilot project to Beijing, Hainan province, Chengdu in Sichuan province, and Zhengzhou and Luoyang in Henan province. In December, the MOH released the “Letter on seeking opinion on temporary method for management of physician on multiple practice locations (draft).” The draft aimed to deepen reform of China’s medical care system and to further advance policies allowing physician practice at multiple locations based on experiences gained from pilot areas.
Kunming, as one of the first pilot areas of the policy, now has more than 1,196 physicians registered as practicing in multiple medical locations. Of these 1,196 physicians practicing affiliations, about 13.7% are provincial public hospitals, and over 60% are prefecture public hospitals. The flow of talent has been from provincial hospitals to prefecture hospitals and from special hospitals to general hospitals, which suits the intention of policy makers perfectly. Curiously, in Beijing, since the pilot project was launched in March 2011, only 5 physicians have applied for multiple practice approval- surprising the local health bureau.
The policy is designed to effectively allocate medical resources and benefit grassroots public facilities. What are public opinions on this? According to a survey conducted by China Youth Daily, over 73.5% participants are in favor of the policy allowing physicians practice in multiple medical institutions. In another survey conducted by a private professional institute in the medical community, over 82% physicians supported the policy.
Despite public support and efforts of the government, how (or if) these policies will serve to maximize the interests of all stakeholders, including physicians, regulators, and the public, still remains to be seen, highlighting the underlying fact that there is a long way to go of the reform of China’s medical care system.