China Healthcare Infographic

INFOGRAPHIC: China’s Rural Healthcare Reform

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This summer, I am spending a month in China sightseeing and visiting family and friends.  My in-laws live in a very rural part of China in a village called Ta Qiao with population of roughly 6,500 people.  To give this some perspective, Beijing has about 13 million permanent residents and another 10 million plus folks floating in and out of the capital.  This trip gives me an opportunity to see first-hand the country’s efforts to reform healthcare in rural China.

Carestream CMO

Norman Yung, Chief Marketing Officer, Carestream Health

Before I arrived in China a couple weeks ago, reports indicated that while major progress has been made there is still tremendous work to do.

More than 835 million people, which accounts for 95 percent of rural residents, have joined the New Rural Cooperative Medical System for access to affordable health coverage. But with two-thirds of rural clinics in disrepair, government construction to improve thousands of rural medical centers is just picking up steam.

From what I’ve seen, it is too early to tell how fast and significantly the gap is being narrowed between urban and rural residents’ access to care.  However, one thing is clear: urban medical centers continue to outpace rural facilities in spend on and use of new medical technologies.

During my time in Ta Qiao, I plan to visit a village clinic to see how medical care is being delivered and what advanced technologies, if any, are being used.  I’m also on the hunt for examples of how advanced health IT systems are connecting urban and rural medical facilities and professionals for better diagnosis and patient care.  For that, I will venture to a nearby town, Ying Tan, with population of roughly 250,000 people located closely to Nanchang, a 3rd tier city with roughly 2.5 million people.

Are you following China’s reform? What areas should have greater focus? What lessons can other countries take from China’s successes and struggles?

Need a quick primer on the rural initiatives in China’s healthcare reform? See our infographic below.

China Healthcare Infographic

Special thanks to the Frontier Strategy Group for letting us use their data.

COMMENTS

  • August 8, 2011
    reply

    Norm,
    Interesting trip. It would be great if you could also look out for examples of “Jugaad”- Frugal innovation viz. how the local population has modified western medical technology adapting it for local resource and cost constraints or developed own indigenous low-cost solutions. I have heard of a lot of that going on in India and China and it would be great to have first-hand examples.
    Not only does wealth lie at the “Bottom of the Pyramid” , the next big breakthrough innovation might also arise from there.

    • August 13, 2011
      reply

      Norman C.W. Yung

      Hi Deepak,

      Thanks for your comments. Like you, I find it exciting to see companies investing in “Jugaad” – Frugal innovation. A very prominent example is the Tata Nano car, selling for 100,000 rupees or roughly $2,500 in your home country India. In my short visit to Ying Tan Hospital, I did not personally see “Jugaad” in action. But, I have heard quite a few companies are investing heavily into setting up innovation centers in countries like China and India to come up with new “frugal innovations.”

      I can speak to the fact that Carestream Health has committed to making China a success many years ago. In addition to building up our commercial team and market share leadership in many of our businesses, we have made investments in setting manufacturing facility and a Technology & Innovation Center, one of three we have worldwide, in Shanghai. Last year, when I was in Shanghai for the International Congress of Radiology (ICR) conference, I along with others from Carestream had the opportunity to visit with some senior government officials in Pu Dong, where we have our commercial, manufacturing and R&D operations. I can tell you that there is a strong commitment from the Chinese government to improve healthcare in China, in particular in the rural areas. Our Shanghai R&D team are constantly looking for ways to bring out innovations, whether it’s high quality imaging equipment designed for China or digital medical solutions leveraging remote medical services via public internet in rural China. We have an ongoing pilot in partnership with the provincial government in Ning Xia testing the viability of a tele-medicine business model in healthcare imaging and informatics.

      I see a bright future in the coming years for more “Jugaad” in action. I would like to continue our dialogue on exchange of ideas on this topic.

      Norm

    • August 16, 2011
      reply

      Karen Mesolella

      Ni Hau (sp?) Norm –

      I am wondering if there are opportunities to learn from traditional Tibetian and Chinese Medicine .. Cures that are lower cost and not as invasive or stressful. I hope that the villiages can preserve the good traditional medicine while adopting the new.

      Does a slower pace of life lead to less heart disease, cancer etc.?

      Does a leaner diet mean that the rate of diabetes is drastically less than here?

      The medical costs to support the rural folks may be less than us fat & fast paced westerners.

      Si Gen (? sp)

      Karen

  • August 11, 2011
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    Have you picked up a few shares of Chinese companies selling medical devices? Great gifts for your in laws. -:)

  • August 11, 2011
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    Paul Abeln

    Norm – In our increasingly interconnected world, there is much to learn from China as it invests in the latest technologies which will leap frog the U.S. Just look at the cell phone adoption rates and benefits vs. obsolete land line paradigm as an example and watch how medical information technology with drive knowledge, access and general wellness and business opportunity in rural areas to know how it can benefit the U.S. rural markets. Great trip!

    • August 13, 2011
      reply

      Norman C.W. Yung

      Hi Paul,

      Thanks for your note. Like you, I continue to be amazed at the rapid adoption of technology in developing countries like China. For example, in my in-law’s small village consisted of two streets of shops and 6,500 people, you will find the availability of broadband internet as well as solar panel technology to heat water for home use. It’s truly remarkable.

      A classmate of ours at Kellogg, Jonathan Su, whom I met for lunch in Beijing, currently works at World Vision, a global non-profit with the mission to alleviate poverty and stimulate development in Yunnan Province, located in the far southwestern corner of China. Jonathan and his family have spent nearly 10 years in Yunnan. In our discussion, he shared that while it could be challenging to get clean water in the remote areas of Yunnan, folks have access to broadband and wireless internet. Jonathan’s three kids are thankful for the internet connectivity, as they continue to make good use of their iPad and iTouch.

      There are definitely opportunities for countries like the US, China and others around the world to leverage and share knowledge and experiences in adopting technology to improve standards of living everywhere, whether it is medical information technology or telecommunications.

      Norm

      [Interesting fact on Yunnan: The province is noted for a very high level of ethnic diversity. Among the country’s 55 recognized ethnic groups, 51 are found in Yunnan. It’s also one of the most popular areas of China for tourism]

  • August 12, 2011
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    Joey

    One of the best things in UK is the free health care. That is pretty much the only thing that makes me feel good of paying the extremely high tax. China cannot claim that the country is developed until our fellow Chinese in rural areas have some sort of affordable medical services. Medical expense is one the most common reasons of “good people” getting into heavy debts in China. – Joey

  • August 12, 2011
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    Roger D

    I’m wondering if the underserved in the rural areas rely more on traditional medicine. It seemed to be that way when I lived in Belize. And if so, it may take some people longer to accept the modern technology, anyway.

  • August 16, 2011
    reply

    Chris Ward

    Hi Norm. What does investment in the availability of clean water and reliable power look like in rural China? Is it a part of China’s healthcare investment? I know that many of us from the developed West default to technology solutions when typically the greatest health gains for a developing economy populace are the basics — water, electricity, healthcare literacy, basic training for caregivers, etc.

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