At the threshold of a new millennium, China's hospitals face a series of problems in their management. This essay attempts to analyze these problems and explore appropriate solutions to them.
First, the contemporary Chinese pattern of medical education is not suitable to the rapid growth of medical knowledge. Ever increasing new theories, methods, and technologies in diagnosis, therapeutics, and prognosis promote the quality of medical care tremendously. However, most health care professionals in China's hospitals are unable to follow up-to-date developments of medical information. Very few medical scientist s or physicians in China's medical care field are recognized as leading or authoritative in the world. The solution to this problem calls for an emphasis on and respect for the values of human resources in medicine, improvement of current medical education, and establishment of a mechanism for reeducating medical professionals.
Second, the current pattern of hospital management is not suitable to the market. The manner of hospital management in China is the product of China's central-planning mode of economy. Each hospital belongs to a central or local government, or to a state-owned enterprise.
It does not have power to make decisions about its own management. Neither does it care about cost-benefit balancing because hospital financing relics entirely on government revenue. However, new problems have occurred during Chin's transition to a free market economy from the centrally-planned economy since the 1980s. Though many enterprises have been allowed to manage themselves according to the circumstances of the market, hospitals have been emphasized as welfare providers that cannot be allowed to make money. The government continues to set strict low prices for medical services and, at the same time, does not provide sufficient financing to hospitals. As a result, hospitals have to make their ends meet by increasing unnecessary medication prescriptions and overusing high-technology diagnostic and therapeutic instruments. Overtreatment and waste in hospital care have generated universal complaints. Accordingly, serious reform must be made in the direction of appropriately adjusting the ownership of hospitals as well as changing the ways of hospital management so that they can adapt themselves to the need of the health care market.
Finally, there are other serious problems involved in China's hospital management. These problems are multi-faceted. For instance, medical facilities and instruments have not been up-to--dated and cannot meet the needs of patients in medical care, the structure of hospital services does not suit the need of the ever-increasing numbers of senior citizens in China, etc. The only way to resolve these problems is reform. This requires ordinary Chinese citizens as well as Chinese leadership to free themselves from the restrictions of the previous centrally-planned economic theory and to seek a new health care model.