According to the International Business Times, Chinese patients are traveling to American hospitals—especially those in Washington, California and Oregon—at a record pace. While the exact numbers are not clear, China Daily reports that at least 3,000 Chinese nationals told Shanghai Customs that they were going to the United States for medical reasons in 2013. However, the actual figure is likely much higher because many people seek medical care in the U.S. without declaring it to customs officials. So why are Chinese patients traveling long distances for American care and what can international ventures do to keep healthcare in China?
Why Are People Avoiding Chinese Healthcare for American Care?
The reasons why Chinese patients are choosing American healthcare over Chinese healthcare are varied, but one thing is certain – China state owned hospitals are in dire need of more physicians and upgraded facilities. The World Health Organization stated that in 2011, China only had 1.49 physicians—including both general practice and specialists—per 1,000 people. For comparison, in the same year, the United States had 2.45. This lack of physicians can lead to incredibly long waits and rushed appointments leading to sub-standard care for Chinese patients.
For Shongbo Wan—a Chinese native who recently traveled to Seattle with his wife for the birth of their son—opting for the U.S. instead of China healthcare was about the level of attentiveness his wife was given by his doctor, as well of the quality of care she received. He also loved the fact that his wife was able to have a water birth, which is an option most Chinese hospitals do not offer.
Then there’s the fact that every minute, six Chinese residents are diagnosed with cancer, according to the International Medical Travel Journal. This leads to more patients than China oncologists can handle and it may contribute to the low 25% survival rate for Chinese cancer patients. In the United States, there is a 68% survival rate, so it’s no surprise that many Chinese patients want to go there for treatment.
What Can International Ventures Do to Keep Healthcare in China?
Obviously, the goal is to expand healthcare services in China, which is where joint ventures in China enter the picture. By bringing overseas healthcare partners into the country, which includes hospitals, insurance companies and the like, the Chinese healthcare system will be able to keep up with the growing needs of the population.
McKinsey & Company estimates that by 2020, Chinese healthcare spending will reach one trillion dollars per year. Combine that with the newly introduced Chinese healthcare reform that streamlines the approval process for healthcare joint ventures, and it’s clear that there is no better time for foreign partners to set up healthcare facilities. These ventures could include hospitals, diagnostic facilities and freestanding surgical centers, and they would bring an abundance of new doctors to the country.
With these new facilities and improved doctor to patient ratio, medical services to Chinese patients should improve. And, hopefully, more Chinese patients will choose to stay in China for their healthcare needs.
To learn more about how you can benefit from international ventures, contact Pacific Century Ventures today.