|Doctors examine patients in the ICU at Bach Mai General Hospital in Ha Noi. Hospital fees rose by 30-50 per cent nationwide yesterday at all public hospitals, as scheduled by the Ministry of Health. — VNA/VNS Photo Duong Ngoc
by Gia Loc
HCM CITY (VNS) — Public health facilities in HCM City will be under pressure to improve their quality of services as they will no longer receive city funds for regular expenditures, excluding costs such as infrastructure projects.
Hospital fees yesterday officially rose by 30-50 per cent nationwide at all public hospitals, as scheduled by the Ministry of Health.
The city's hospitals will have to rely mostly on revenue from patients instead of the city's budget.
Tang Chi Thuong, deputy head of the city's Department of Health, said: "If quality and service attitudes stay the same, they won't be able to attract patients. This means they won't have revenue for their operations."
"The best way for a hospital to survive is to improve medical techniques and quality, obey state laws, and consider patients as ‘the centre of service'", he said.
At public hospitals with comprehensive financial autonomy, the fee will increase by 50 per cent starting from yesterday.
The hospitals include Bach Mai, Viet Duc, endocrinology, obstetrics, and eye hospitals in Ha Noi and Cho Ray, and several district hospitals in HCM City.
Nguyen Van Chau, Director of Xuyen A General Hospital in Cu Chi District, said: "For hospitals with low quality, this is a lot of pressure. They are forced to change because their existence depends on attracting patients."
"The quality of examination and treatment is the hospital's top priority. Accurate diagnoses and treatment help patients recover the fastest, leading to savings in total costs," he added.
Patients at his hospital would benefit from modern equipment and facilities, he said, adding that the hospital regularly adopted new advanced techniques in diagnosis and treatment.
Work on another high-tech treatment area to treat diseases related to heart and nerves was under construction at the hospital, and would be put into use early next year, he said.
Every day, the hospital collects opinions and comments from patients about its services.
Many hospitals such as Thu Duc District Hospital have applied IT to improve administrative processes, including keeping medical records on computers. The streamlining of services has also helped reduce waiting time.
With modern techniques, Thu Duc Hospital conducts complex surgeries that only several district hospitals in the city are capable of doing, including surgeries for spinal column and brain injuries, and cardiac intervention.
These achievements have helped the hospital attract more patients, according to the Health Department's medical affairs division.
The division's report found that after one month of implementing a regulation that allowed insured patients to choose any district hospital or private health facilities at the same locality, the number of insured patients to Thu Duc Hospital increased by nearly 6.6 per cent.
The regulation took effect on January 1.
Nguyen Truong Son, head of Cho Ray Hospital, said: "When all hospitals in the city, especially district-level, as well as provincial ones, improve the quality and service attitudes to ensure patient satisfaction and get trust from patients, central hospitals like Cho Ray Hospital can reduce patient overload."
The increase would also help hospitals to reinvest, he said, adding that this would help improve the working condition and lives of staff.
Each year, the hospital spends VND20 billion (US$888,888) to pay allowances for its staff.
In the last quarter of 2015, the hospital began programmes to improve its quality anticipating the increased fees.
The hospital is also setting up a new technical process, adjusting treatment protocol and standardising patient care.
In addition, its quality control division is reviewing administrative procedures to reduce the waiting time of patients.
This year, the hospital has been using less invasive surgical techniques, such as endoscopy robotic surgery.
At its molecular biology and genetics centre launched last week, new tests on genetic mutation for the treatment of cancer patients are being carried out.
"While many hospitals have increased fees, the Xuyen A Hospital did not change its fee on March 1," Chau said.
The hospital used loans from the preferential loan programme of the city People's Committee, and as a result, its management was improved, including financial services and a canteen, mini supermarket and cars to pick up patients.
The hospital does not collect payments for outpatients' examination and beds when they are hospitalised.
"The hospital operates on patients for 21 months only, but the number of outpatients has reached 1,200, and 800 inpatients each day," he added.
Of these, 70 per cent are insured patients.
Dr Diep Bao Tuan, deputy head of the city Oncology Hospital, told Voice of Viet Nam's online newspaper that the hospital's leaders would apply the new fees for newly hospitalised patients.
For patients staying at the hospital for treatment until March 15, they will pay the previous levels, Tuan added. — VNS