Reforming China’s Healthcare: Challenges & Opportunities

Joint meeting with BCS Health Informatics Scotland

Wednesday 29th June 2016, 7:00 pm.

Speaker: Nick Mackie, Strategic Partnerships Manager, University of Edinburgh, Usher Institute. China-based Foreign Correspondent 2003-2012

Venue: Room 4.31, University of Edinburgh Informatics Forum, 10 Crichton Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9AB.

This event is free of charge and open to all. No registration required - just turn up.

Refreshments and networking from 6:30 pm.

UKCHIP endorses the event as suitable for Continuing Professional Development by health informatics professionals.

This meeting is supported by NCR.


China has over 20,000 hospitals – around half are state managed, half owned and managed by privately owned and publicly listed companies. Of the country’s 3.7 million hospital beds, 78% are in the state sector.

The Central Government is in the early days of implementing a new 5-year roadmap for healthcare reform, which includes a 30% increase in hospital beds in state-run hospitals and a 2-fold increase in the number of privately invested hospitals. This target could generate 400,000 new private hospital beds each year.

By 2020, annual healthcare expenditure is expected to reach £700 billion.

The data comparing China with OECD countries clearly shows why a large scale physical expansion is vital:
(per 1,000 population).

  • China has half the number of hospital beds;
  • China has half the number of qualified physicians;
  • OECD countries have five times as many nurses than China

And it’s not as if the Chinese are healthier. Deaths from all major non-communicable diseases (including cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases) are 60% higher than OECD countries per 100,000 of population.

With China ageing - by 2035 its percentage of over 65s is projected to be higher than OECD countries – the government recognises the urgency to ride the wave of reform. This is not just about providing decent services for citizens. It’s a matter of national security.

But as Nick Mackie will argue, where there’s reform, there’s also opportunity. While China is magnificent at building hard infrastructure, it lags in terms of soft skills such as training, education, quality improvement, service delivery. There’s also a need to develop medical informatics and the demand for digital health solutions is huge.

About the speaker


Nick leads on industry engagement for the University of Edinburgh’s Usher Institute - promoting and supporting collaborations in the emergent fields of medical informatics, data science and digital health which aim to tackle head-on some of the major challenges facing healthcare and health systems - nationally and globally.

A key area of his activities focuses on China. Working with a Hong Kong listed hospital investment and management company, Nick is developing a novel business model designed to provide Scottish tailored support to selected healthcare projects in Mainland China.

Having worked in China for nine years as a business journalist for the western media, Nick has deep domain expertise of the Chinese business culture and has maintained strong connections among business leaders, notably in the healthcare sector.

In his reporting for BBC World, CNBC and Associated Press, Nick covered the era of China’s hyper-growth when the economy grew faster and for longer than any other country in history – pouring more concrete in a handful of years than in a century of US construction, building tens of thousands of miles of roads and high speed railways and developing unrivalled factory supply chains that consumers the world over depend on.

He also covered the sector that lagged behind: healthcare. And since returning to Scotland, has closely followed the Chinese government’s efforts to reform and develop a sector that is failing the population and fuelling discontent.

In 2005, Nick won an Emmy Award for his China reporting, while in 2009 he received the Best Documentary on International Affairs award from the Overseas Press Club of America.

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