Norman Yung, Chief Marketing Officer, Carestream Health
As my trip to China continues, this week I had the opportunity to join my brother-in-law at Ying Tan Hospital for a follow-up X-Ray for his right wrist, which was injured three months ago.
Considered a fourth-tiered city, Ying Tan Hospital serves over 500,000 people from the town population of 250,000 residents and those from surrounding areas coming for care. The leading medical facility in the area, the hospital recently expanded its operations and moved into its current buildings only a few years ago. I jumped at the chance to see China’s healthcare reform in action.
Admission was fairly efficient. After a few minutes in line, my brother-in-law was registered as a patient, which included having to pay all associated costs – 112 RMB for the imaging procedure plus 5 RMB for doctor’s visit. While the government covers a portion of inpatient services like complex exams and surgeries, people in rural China with average monthly income from 1,200 to 2,500 RMB, are responsible for paying for the costs of simple exams like x-ray.
A recently renovated facility, Ying Tan Hospital operates CT, ultrasound and x-ray imaging equipment. In this case it was located in a standalone, nearby facility within walking distance. Once we arrived, we waited about 12 minutes for a radiology technician to see us and take the x-ray (with Carestream technology).
Ying Tan Hospital Entrance
After about 15 minutes, my brother-in-law received the x-ray medical film images and a written report on the diagnosis. He then returned to the first building to meet with the radiologist, who spent a few minutes reading the X-ray film on a light box, as well as the initial report and gave us his interpretation. Unfortunately, because my brother-in-law did not bring his original x-ray images, taken at another hospital, we were unable to compare and contrast with the prior images.
This visit echoed my original impression of China’s rural healthcare reform. Clearly investments are being made in improving rural healthcare, as indicated by the expansion of Ying Tan Hospital and its medical equipment. However, there are many opportunities to deliver more efficient care.
Consider my brother-in-law’s experience. While I saw a few uses of digital radiography in the hospital, a networked health IT system would have eliminated the need to print film, allowed the x-ray to be viewed from different buildings to save the radiologist and patient time, and improved diagnostic confidence with quick access to prior images.
I’m headed next to a village clinic in Ta Qiao this week to get a fuller picture of how someone in rural China receives healthcare.
Let me know in the comments if you have questions about village clinics – I’m happy to ask!