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China's public hospital reforms push forward despite difficulties


16:00, December 14, 2011

GUIYANG, Dec. 14 (Xinhua) -- Immersed in the joy of his daughter's birth, first-time father Yang Hong spoke highly of the improved medical service he experienced in the city of Zunyi in southwest China's Guizhou province.

"Hospitalized delivery used to take one week, but my wife was discharged from the hospital only three days after she gave birth to the baby," said Yang. "We didn't have to waste time and saved at least 2,000 yuan (314 U.S. dollars) in hospital fees."

Zunyi was one of 16 cities chosen in February 2010 to institute reforms in its public hospitals. The State Council, or China's cabinet, passed a medical reform plan in January 2009, promising to spend 850 billion yuan by 2011 to provide universal medical service to the country's 1.3 billion people.


The hospitals that were chosen to participate in the pilot program have seen progress in the two years since the program began. Zunyi's No. 1 People's Hospital, where Yang's daughter was born, is one of them

One of the reforms being made includes the introduction of "clinical pathways," a management tool used to manage healthcare quality.

The hospital has 50 beds in its obstetrics department, all of which are in high demand year-round, said He Lifang, director of the department.

"Clinical pathway management has alleviated the problem," He said.

The management system has allowed the hospital to standardize prescriptions, the length of hospital stays and doctors' therapies, increasing the turnover ratio for the hospital's beds by 20 percent, said Liu Xiaoyun, deputy director of the hospital's obstetrics and gynecology department.

Electronic medical records, high-quality nursing services and the introduction of a regional health information network are also part of the reforms being made at the hospital, said Luo Xudong, president of the hospital.

With the implement of the reforms, the hospital has seen a significant increase in the number of patients admitted and the average hospitalization time has been reduced by about 30 hours, Luo said.

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