Overnight results cannot be expected on reducing hospital overload, Luong Ngoc Khue, Director of the Medical Examination and Treatment Department, tells Nong thon Ngay nay.
What are some of the measures being taken to improve health examinations and treatment while reducing hospital overload?
The Ministry of Health has initiated several measures in line with Decision 92/QD-TTg that targets reducing hospital overload in the 2013-2020 period.
These include infrastructure investment, increasing the number of beds, development of satellite hospitals, a pilot project to provide family doctor services, upgrading the commune-level healthcare system, strengthening preventive medicine and improving hospital management.
Many policies have been issued to minimize the number of patients directly visiting central hospitals for health checks and treatment.
Under the satellite hospital project, we have seen a decline of 37.5 per cent in patients being sent to higher-level hospitals. These activities have helped improve the quality of health checks and treatment while reducing hospital congestion.
But many patients still prefer to go directly to central hospitals for problems that can be treated well at lower level hospitals. Why?
There are many reasons. While grassroots level healthcare facilities are doing their job, they are constrained, in some cases, by the lack of facilities and personnel, including doctors and specialists.
Then, facilities that are well-equipped have failed to communicate well with the public in order to inform and gain their trust.
We do have a programme that seems to minimize the gap between central and lower level hospitals, but both this and building public trust and belief will take time.
There are instances of patients having to wait a long time for having tests done, only to find out that some places will not use results obtained from other hospitals. How can this situation be handled?
Many hospitals have reformed their examination process and simplified administrative procedures.
Based on each patient's condition, doctors would suggest one to three tests. The waiting time depends on the number of tests ordered, usually.
However, basing on a list promulgated by the Ministry of Health, hospitals have already drawn up their own patient care and treatment protocol, in which there are specific instructions for diagnosis and treatment. This will limit the overuse of tests.
Last year, the health ministry also issued criteria for hospital quality assessment, including quality standards for tests. Step by step, the aim is to avoid he situation of some hospitals not recognising test results from other hospitals.
Again, ensuring all laboratories meet the same standards is an exercise that needs financial and human resources, and it will take time for this to be achieved. — VNS