This article was written by Maria Tong, senior director, association management and consulting from MCI Beijing office.
On October 29, 2014, China released a draft of the National Plan for Health Service System, featuring the country’s goals and priorities on developing the public health framework in the next five years. The plan aims to adjust the layout of the medical and health resources, improve the service ability and the resources use efficiency.
There are a few findings from the plan that may be interesting to the US healthcare associations.
The plan set a goal to significantly increase the number of registered doctors and registered nurses by 2020, anticipating an increase of 25% for registered doctors and 50% for registered nurses. To achieve the goal, China has to improve the current weak medical educational system.
This creates opportunities for US healthcare associations to work with the Chinese government and hospitals to introduce standardized and professional body of knowledge to Chinese medical practitioners. It is important to note that the plan stressed to enhance the training for General Doctors and Residence Doctors.
The plan encourages establishing private owned hospitals, including foreign invested hospitals, to relieve the pressure of Chinese public hospitals. This implies the changing role of public hospitals with the rise of new private hospitals. Therefore, US associations specializing in hospital management, quality control, and medical information management should pay attention to these emerging needs and seek opportunities to enter into the market to ride this new wave of opportunity.
The Plan emphasizes the training to overcome talent shortage especially in Chinese Medicine, Pediatrics, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Mental Health, Aged Care, Infectious Diseases, Stomatology, and Rehabilitation, etc.
Here are some suggestions for US associations considering the China market:
Understand the market needs. It is critical to conduct market analysis to understand the challenges and issues in the profession, and how your products and services can be applied to the market to help solve local problems and meet local interests.
Make a feasible action plan. You need a plan based on sound market intelligence with a solid business and operation model, development activities, and financial budget to ensure you don’t get off track and can make progressive steps.
Get people on the ground who possess the proper business expertise and local knowledge to pursue opportunities and overcome barriers. Talents must be familiar with the culture and language to help you. Simply running and monitoring your business from the US will not make for a sustainable growth in China.
Take a lesson from your corporate counterparts. According to the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai the average for a US business to become profitable in China is between 5-8 years.
Global growth requires determination, local insight, and the right business capacity to turn your products, services and membership into value that local stakeholders will appreciate.