China will continue integrating healthcare services with the Internet Plus Initiative to improve the quality and efficiency of the sector under a new guideline approved by the State Council, senior officials said on Monday.
Management of healthcare services should be improved by optimizing resource distribution and innovative management models with higher efficiency and lower costs, Zeng Yixin, deputy head of the National Health Commission, said at a policy briefing hosted by the State Council Information Office.
The guideline on the promotion of integrating healthcare with the internet was approved at a State Council executive meeting on Thursday, which was presided over by Premier Li Keqiang. It"s the latest move by the central government to integrate traditional industries with internet technologies.
According to the guideline, a service system will be established to promote integration in areas such as public health, privately contracted doctors, medical supplies and medical insurance reimbursement settlement, Zeng said.
Meanwhile, supportive policies will be introduced to boost sharing of medical information and infrastructure upgrades for hospitals, along with measures to ensure the security of personal medical information and the quality of healthcare services, he said.
However, problems remain for some hospitals, where patients cannot get punctual treatment and still have unpleasant experiences when seeing doctors.
Jiao Yahui, deputy director of the department of health policies and management under the commission, said medical reforms should be deepened and more internet-based procedures introduced to solve the problem.
Many hospitals have developed their own applications, through which patients can register for an appointment online, Jiao said. Meanwhile, other platforms are also being used to pool resources from different hospitals to make appointments easily for patients, she said.
Hospitals now are encouraged to divide appointments into different time periods to prevent everyone from coming in at rush hours. Smart hospitals also will be encouraged to help improve efficiency, which was exemplified by one hospital in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province. In that hospital, patients can make appointments, pay bills and see results of checkups on their computers or mobile phones.
Internet technologies will be further used to help rebalance the distribution of medical services across the country and provide better services, especially in central and western parts of China, Zeng said.
"Medical resources are clustered in major hospitals in large cities, leading to scarcity of such resources in rural areas and faraway places. ... Therefore, we hope internet technologies can make the access to high-quality doctors and medical services easier for less-developed areas and, thus, change the imbalance," Zeng added.