• The Chinese government announced in 2009 its plans to invest 850 billion yuan over the next three years to ensure fair and affordable care for the entire 1.3 billion population.
• Since announcing the plans last year to revamp the Chinese medical system with the injection of 850 billion yuan over the next three years, foreign technology firms have been scouting for opportunities amid healthcare reform plans in the world’s most populous nation.
• It is forecast that the details of the Chinese government’s 850 billion yuan healthcare stimulus, which is expected to unleash huge IT demand for massive facility upgrades in hospitals and the establishment of a national healthcare system, will be unveiled within this year.
• China’s ambitious health reforms will double the size of China’s healthcare informatization market in the next two years and result in huge demand for new software, hardware and IT services, especially from rural areas where there were few IT facilities.
• According to China’s Ministry of Healthcare, the detailed health care plan has been sent to the State Council for approval, which has raised expectations that a government-led healthcare reform covering China’s entire population is in the offing.
• In this relation, the IBM Greater China Group expects at least 1,000 Chinese hospitals to invest a minimum of US$1.5 million each on software and related services in the coming years, encouraged by the government’s investment plan.
• According to statistics from China Hospital Information Management Association, a non-profit industry organization, investment in computerisation only amounted to 0.7 per cent of a Chinese hospital’s total income, while the IT budget of hospitals in developed countries is about 2.4 per cent of their total budget.
• The investment in IT plays a critical role in China’s medical reform plan because it is nearly impossible to provide fair and affordable healthcare service in such a huge country without the support of information technology.
• With the current mix of a socialised and private healthcare, which was implemented in the early 1990s, China’s hospitals, especially those in rural areas, are often without even basic IT infrastructure.
• At the same time, as a result of a government push to reduce funding and encourage hospitals to fend for themselves, most hospitals purchased medical equipment that directly generated revenue rather than computers and software.

The health information technology and informatics field is a rapidly expanding sector in China and other parts of the world. If China’s ambitious health reforms were finally taken into effect and successfully implemented, a large number of Chinese hospitals will invest heavily in medical software applications, IT infrastructure and IT services.

As China’s hospitals unleash their spending on health IT systems, there will be an increased focus on electronic information sharing with general practice and specialist physicians, community, mental health and aged care providers. In this regard, Malaysian health IT software and solution providers may take advantage of sourcing opportunities in key areas such as:
• Health messaging
• Electronic health record
• Hospital management and patient administration systems
• Tele-health system
• Clinical information systems (pharmacy, pathology)
• Asset management and supply chain management
• Health payment solutions

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