At the beginning of 2016, Shenzhen saw the establishment of the first company with an officially issued business license to run a “Medical Alliance” business in China, Shenzhen Bode Jia United Doctors Medical Group Limited (the “Company”).
Back in 2009, the Ministry of Health issued the Circular Concerning Issues Relevant to Multisite Practices by Physicians which required doctors to register at certain medical institutions in order to provide medical practice services and limited each doctor to a maximum of three medical institutions within one province. Most medical institutions in China are state-owned which means that the controls on doctors are much tighter compared to those on employees of a private company. This makes it difficult for doctors to provide medical services in multiple institutions. The Reform and Implementation Plan on Physician Practice Registration and Management (the “Opinion”) issued by the Shenzhen Health and Family Planning Commission in July 2015 released medical institutions from control over physicians and transferred the relationship between them to one similar to that of private employment. It also allowed registered doctors to practice in all approved medical institutions in Shenzhen. This has eliminated some regulatory limitations on the practice of Medical Alliance businesses in China.
After this Opinion, the Company could be established under a Medical Alliance business model which involves the signing of cooperation agreements between the Company and hospitals which therefore made it possible for contracted practicing physicians of the hospitals to provide medical services in other medical institutions or hospitals who have entered into the same cooperation agreements.
The issuance of the license for the Company has been a fundamental breakthrough which represents a departure from the conventional model in which a doctor must be confined to one hospital when providing medical services.
It will also contribute to the development of mobile medical services. The concepts of mHealth and eHealth were introduced to in China in 2011 and have gradually become a focus of medical industries and investment in the sector. The issue of the licence has promoted the potential increased flexibility of doctors, which in turn provides better opportunities for the medical industry to adapt to the innovative environment of internet and mobile network technology.