Setting up your own medical practice, or joining a group practice is a routine thing in US, and many other countries. But, in China, it is a courageous act. Dr. Zhang Kiang, the founder of China’s first group medical practice, has named himself Dr Smile, keeping in mind the arduous road ahead and the stress involved in medical freelance. Dr. Kiang knows that a majority of Chinese doctors are employed by hospitals, and they find it difficult to set up their own practice. Medical freelancing is legally allowed, but since doctors are already employed, they cannot set up their own practice.
Keeping the right attitude has been crucial in helping Dr. Kiang breeze through difficulties. After all, taking care of patients is not an easy job. For patients, too, this alternative to hospitals is proving to be a blessing with better outcomes and improved satisfaction. Patients are able to communicate with the doctors in a hassle-free manner, and there is no stress during the treatment, which is typical in a hospital setting.
According to Dr. Kiang, “although commercialization of the medicine world is what is happening, yet the primary focus is to bring the best care to the patients.” Reputation matters and patients would come in droves if the freelance doctors are able to handle cases efficiently. Patient satisfaction rate has been 99.5%, and Dr Kiang says that he is confident that the freelance doctors are on the right path. Their team is now on the expansion mode, but most Chinese doctors feel afraid to jump into the cold waters.
Doctors joining the practice are excited and feel free from the grasp of public hospitals, which is helping them serve their patients better. Another surgeon with Dr. Kiang’s group said that she is very happy as she now has the flexibility to be innovative in providing medical care. She is also getting more time to train herself for new situations. This will hopefully convince other doctors to join, and push the medical reform in the right direction.
Despite all hurdles, Dr. Kiang continues to march on. He wants to emulate the operational pattern that he has developed across the country. Recently, in Shenzhen, the first medical license for setting up a business group has been released. This is definitely a positive signal for medical reform, and as China embraces the new system, medical practice is all set to get a new meaning.