The State Council has moved to incentivize the growth of private medical institutions with streamlined approvals and greater policy support as experts underscored the importance of enabling more talent flow to the private medical sector.
The cabinet decided at an executive meeting on May 22 to expand the room of development for private medical institutions, canceling restrictions on the number of such institutions within a certain region during urban planning procedures.
Workers from public hospitals can apply for the opening of medical institutions while they are still in service or on suspension from duty without pay, according to a statement released after the meeting.
The meeting also vowed improved efficiencies in government approvals, with an interdepartmental mechanism for such institutions set to be established before the end of this year.
The growth of private medical institutions will effectively increase the supply of medical services, stimulate the potential of the market and unleash the potential of consumption in the service sector, the statement said.
According to a report released by the National Health Commission last week, the number of private hospitals reached 20,977 last year, up by 11.8 percent from 2017. Private hospitals, with 26.3 percent of the country’s hospital beds, received a total of 530 million patients, or 14.8 percent of the country’s total, last year.
Li Ling, a professor who has conducted research on the country’s medical reforms at Peking University, said the measures by the State Council showcased the growing importance of private medical institutions in the health sector.
However, she said, one of the major challenges for private medical institutions is the lack of high-quality medical workers. “It is not about money. It is about doctors,” she said.