For the past few months, our Johns Hopkins Division of General Internal Medicine has hosted an internist from Peking Union Medical College Hospital, Dr. Yu Wang [also on Weibo]. She leaves at the end of May. The aim is to help foster a relationship between our two institutions; UCSF and PUMCH are already working together. While I am no expert about the Chinese health system, I wanted to share some of what I learned from her during her visit.
PUMCH is a tertiary care hospital, similar to Hopkins. But while Hopkins has recently taken the bit of primary care in its teeth, PUMCH, says Dr. Wang, is not about to make that its priority. Rather, the Chinese government has apparently launched an initiative to train tens of thousands of new primary care providers across the country. (Johns Hopkins is newly involved in training some of these at Sun Yat-Sen University.)
When Dr. Wang discharges a patient from PUMCH, she gives them a detailed discharge summary to take to the doctor they next see--not their primary care doctor, because they don't have one. Nor can she expect that they take the medications recommended for them during their stay in the hospital, because most medications, she says, are paid for out of pocket in China.
I am planning a trip to China to visit PUMCH and I hope to have some first-person impressions then. Meanwhile, I hope to find some general sources about the Chinese health care system to enlighten me. A colleague of Dr. Wang's, in the emergency department at PUMCH, is also on Weibo, and once I sign up for the service, I look forward to learning more about health care in China.
Thank you, Dr. Wang, for your visit and for helping connect our two institutions!
Zackary Berger, MD, ACP Member, is a primary care doctor and general internist in the Division of General Internal Medicine at Johns Hopkins. His research interests include doctor-patient communication, bioethics, and systematic reviews. He is also a poet, journalist and translator in Yiddish and English. This post originally appeared at his blog.