Strengthening ties between the RACGP and the Chinese healthcare system

Doug Hendrie

27/04/2018 3:34:14 PM

A delegation of Chinese doctors and hospital administrators visited the RACGP this week to hear about the strengths of Australia’s community-based primary healthcare system.

There has been interest in China in learning about the Australian primary care framework.
There has been interest in China in learning about the Australian primary care framework.

The strengthening of ties between Chinese doctors and the RACGP comes as China nears the 10th anniversary of a large-scale effort to roll out low-cost healthcare for all of its 1.4 billion people.
RACGP Education Strategy Senior Advisor Dr Ronald McCoy told 22 delegates from Zhejiang province who visited the RACGP that community-based GPs act as a constant in many Australian’s lives.
‘We can treat disease earlier and stop people having to go to hospital. It’s considerably cheaper to treat people in the community than in hospital, so if a patient is worried about money, they’re likely to seek treatment much earlier,’ he told the delegation.
He said 85% of Australians see their GP at least once a year.
‘Australia’s success in delivering a cost-effective health service to a nation has been increasingly recognised internationally,’ Dr McCoy said.
‘Countries with well-developed primary care systems have lower overall health costs and better health outcomes. [The system] reduces hospitalisations and improves other health outcomes through early primary care management of health problems.’

Chinese-delegates-Text.jpgThe RACGP was visited by 22 delegates from China’s Zhejiang province. 
While the delegation visited the college’s Melbourne headquarters, three of the RACGP’s leaders were in Beijing at a China-wide conference on training GPs.
The RACGP’s delegation includes Education Services general manager Dr Mark Rowe and Censor-in-Chief Dr Mark Miller. They attended the conference in order to establish relationships with opinion leaders in China, to observe the healthcare system, and to share the college education and training framework with the Chinese medical community.
China is progressively shifting away from a reliance on hospital-dominated healthcare to focus on community-based care and the development of a general practice component. There has been interest in China in learning about the Australian framework, and developing an appropriate and contextual Chinese healthcare framework.
At last year’s National Party Conference, Chinese President Xi Jinping said that a key aspect of improving his nation’s health was to ‘strengthen the construction of grassroots medical and health service systems and the establishment of general practitioner teams’.
Dr Hui Yang, China programs manager for Monash University’s Institute for Health and Clinical Education, arranged the two-week trip to China, including visits to GP clinics and hospitals. Many delegates are doctors working in large cities like Hangzhou, near Shanghai.
Dr Yang told newsGP that the delegation hoped to learn about further developing a primary care system.
‘In China, the primary care discipline has been identified as a key priority of healthcare system reform,’ he said.
‘[Primary care] is more efficient and cost-effective for the health system and has a better outcome for people's health. 
‘To visit the RACGP is one of the most important activities, and the aim is to understand how the RACGP works to establish standards of training, practice and examinations.’
Dr Yang said the delegates were very interested in the arms-length distance between the RACGP and government, which they believed might help develop the primary care discipline in China if implemented. But the delegates believed directly copying the RACGP’s structure would not necessarily work in a Chinese setting.
Many delegates told Dr Yang that developing general practice education and clinical supervisors was an area of current weakness in China, and one that that could be improved.

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