Simpler license procedures benefit medical institutions
High-quality medical institutions have been benefiting from the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone’s policy of simplifying procedures for the establishment of new businesses.
SinoUnited Health Clinic, a Shanghai-based private medical institution, is one of the beneficiaries of the new policy which has been applied in the Pudong New Area since last year.
Before the new policy, it could take at least nine months before a clinic could acquire a license, according to Zhou Ying, operation director of SinoUnited Health Clinic.
Zhou said two licenses were required before a new clinic could be set up — a “medical institution set-up approval” issued by the health and family planning commission, and a business license issued by the industrial and commercial bureau.
To issue a “medical institution set-up approval,” the commission would go through a series of evaluations including the where the institute was located. If there was a medical institution within 500 meters, the application would likely be refused.
“The set-up approval served as a threshold for newcomers,” said Zhou. “But starting from last year, Pudong and the FTZ have been encouraging the introduction of high-quality medical services, and the threshold has been removed.”
According to the FTZ’s new policy, the set-up approval has been canceled for medical institution applicants. Documents needed for applications have been simplified, and once the application passes the public notice procedure, the company or institute can go ahead with environment evaluation and fire protection checks before getting their business license.
“The authority was still careful when checking our qualification, but the simplified procedure really saved us time and cost when we decided to open our fourth branch in Pudong last year,” said Zhou.
The branch, in Pudong’s Zhangjiang area, will open next month.
“We handed in the application last September, and passed the public notice procedure in October. The following works, including environment evaluation, design, construction and decoration, started immediately.
“If it was not for the Spring Festival break, the new clinic could have started operations last month, which would be six months after the application. Before the new policy, it would take at least nine months or even a year to let a new clinic run,” Zhou added. “Apart from saving rent, being able to start business early also means an early occupation of the market.”
Simplified application procedures doesn’t mean slack management or supervision by government departments.
According to Zhou, Pudong’s administrative authorities and market watchdog are holding more frequent checks of medical institutions covering waste water discharges, personnel management, vaccine price setting and other matters.
“The simplified procedure for setting up a new clinic has saved trouble for us, and it actually added more follow-up supervision tasks for the authorities,” said Zhou.
SinoUnited Health Clinic mainly serves commercial medical insurance customers and private patients. About half of its patients are expats.