Submitted by Karen Prosser, EC Harris, Partner, Health sector
I recently spoke at the Hospital Build China Conference in Beijing and thought I’d share some of my observations of what was being discussed.
Given the level of attendees, there is obviously a significant focus on new hospital developments and healthcare facilities in China. There is not only a desire to learn from international best practices but there is also a recognition that these must be adapted specifically to the China market.
We need to appreciate the challenges faced by Chinese healthcare providers. The lack of a trusted primary care system means patients will often go from receiving Chinese medicine straight to hospital. This results in a large attendance at Accident and Emergency which directly impacts on other departments such as Radiology, Outpatients etc. The answer to this issue is more than just a new building, there is a need to change the health system which is what the Government is trying to do. As this will take time, new hospital developments will have to be optimised by the meantime.
There is a difference in how the design process is approached in China. Often, the design is undertaken with little input from the doctors and nurses. All those 'wonderful buildings' are being developed but these do not enable clinical services to be provided as efficiently as they could be. It is more difficult to work in those buildings and there is a need for more staff, a precious commodity for every countries, especially for China.
One other issue faced by China, similar to many other developing countries, is the increase in lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, coronary heart disease and cancer as well as a growing elderly population across China. This has implications not only for the healthcare system but also for individual hospitals.
So what did I learn most from the conference? We must listen! We cannot have have all the answers in terms of how to develop the best hospitals for China but we have got great examples of how to support the development of world class hospitals and how the healthcare system works. If we link our international experience with our local service delivery skills, the results will provide significant value to our clients and ultimately to the patients who have to visit these facilities.