Xiao, Y, Husain, L and Bloom, G (2018) Evaluation and learning in complex, rapidly changing health systems, Globalization and Health, 14:112, DOI: 10.1186/s12992-018-0429-7
Healthcare systems are increasingly recognised as complex, in which a range of non-linear and emergent behaviours occur. China’s healthcare system is no exception. The hugeness of China, and the variation in conditions in different jurisdictions present very substantial challenges to reformers, and militate against adopting one-size-fits-all policy solutions. As a consequence, approaches to change management in China have frequently emphasised the importance of sub-national experimentation, innovation, and learning. Multiple mechanisms exist within the government structure to allow and encourage flexible implementation of policies, and tailoring of reforms to context. These limit the risk of large-scale policy failures and play a role in exploring new reform directions and potentially systemically-useful practices. They have helped in managing the huge transition that China has undergone from the 1970s onwards. China has historically made use of a number of mechanisms to encourage learning from innovative and emergent policy practices. Policy evaluation is increasingly becoming a tool used to probe emergent practices and inform iterative policy making/refining. This paper examines the case of a central policy research institute whose mandate includes evaluating reforms and providing feedback to the health ministry. Evaluation approaches being used are evolving as Chinese research agencies become increasingly professionalised, and in response to the increasing complexity of reforms. The paper argues that learning from widespread innovation and experimentation is challenging, but necessary for stewardship of large, and rapidly-changing systems.
Morgan R, Ayiasi RM, Barman D, Buzuzi S, Ssemugabo C, Ezumah N, George AS, Hawkins K, Hao X, King R, Liu T, Molyneux S, Muraya KW, Musoke D, Nyamhanga T, Ros B, Tani K, Theobald S, Vong S and Waldman L (2018) Gendered health systems: evidence from low- and middle-income countries, Health Research Policy and Systems, 16:58, DOI: 10.1186/s12961-018-0338-5
Gender is often neglected in health systems, yet health systems are not gender neutral. Within health systems research, gender analysis seeks to understand how gender power relations create inequities in access to resources, the distribution of labour and roles, social norms and values, and decision-making. This paper synthesises findings from nine studies focusing on four health systems domains, namely human resources, service delivery, governance and financing. It provides examples of how a gendered and/or intersectional gender approach can be applied by researchers in a range of low- and middle-income settings (Cambodia, Zimbabwe, Uganda, India, China, Nigeria and Tanzania) to issues across the health system and demonstrates that these types of analysis can uncover new and novel ways of viewing seemingly intractable problems.
Huang F, Blaschke S and Lucas H (2017) Beyond pilotitis: taking digital health interventions to the national level in China and Uganda, Globalization and Health, 13:49, doi: 10.1186/s12992-017-0275-z
Innovation theory has focused on the adoption of new products or services by individuals and their market-driven diffusion to the population at large. However, major health sector innovations typically emerge from negotiations between diverse stakeholders who compete to impose or at least prioritise their preferred version of that innovation. Thus, while many digital health interventions have succeeded in terms of adoption by a substantial number of providers and patients, they have generally failed to gain the level of acceptance required for their integration into national health systems that would promote sustainability and population-wide application. The area of innovation considered here relates to a growing number of success stories that have created considerable enthusiasm among donors, international agencies, and governments for the potential role of ICTs in transforming weak national health information systems in middle and low income countries. This article uses a case study approach to consider the assumptions, institutional as well as technical, underlying this enthusiasm and explores possible ways in which outcomes might be improved.
Bloom G, Berdou E, Standing H, Guo Z and Labrique A (2017) ICTs and the challenge of health system transition in low and middle-income countries, Globalization and Health, 13:56, doi: 10.1186/s12992-017-0276-y
The aim of this paper is to contribute to debates about how governments and other stakeholders can influence the application of ICTs to increase access to safe, effective and affordable treatment of common illnesses, especially by the poor. First, it argues that the health sector is best conceptualized as a ‘knowledge economy’. This supports a broadened view of health service provision that includes formal and informal arrangements for the provision of medical advice and drugs. This is particularly important in countries with a pluralistic health system, with relatively underdeveloped institutional arrangements. It then argues that reframing the health sector as a knowledge economy allows us to circumvent the blind spots associated with donor-driven ICT-interventions and consider more broadly the forces that are driving e-health innovations. It draws on small case studies in Bangladesh and China to illustrate new types of organization and new kinds of relationship between organizations that are emerging. It argues that several factors have impeded the rapid diffusion of ICT innovations at scale including: the limited capacity of innovations to meet health service needs, the time it takes to build new kinds of partnership between public and private actors and participants in the health and communications sectors and the lack of a supportive regulatory environment. It emphasises the need to understand the political economy of the digital health knowledge economy and the new regulatory challenges likely to emerge. It concludes that governments will need to play a more active role to facilitate the diffusion of beneficial ICT innovations at scale and ensure that the overall pattern of health system development meets the needs of the population, including the poor.
Husain L (2017) Policy experimentation and innovation as a response to complexity in China’s management of health reforms, Globalization and Health, 13:54, doi: 10.1186/s12992-017-0277-x
There are increasing criticisms of dominant models for scaling up health systems in developing countries and a recognition that approaches are needed that better take into account the complexity of health interventions. Since Reform and Opening in the late 1970s, Chinese government has managed complex, rapid and intersecting reforms across many policy areas. As with reforms in other policy areas, reform of the health system has been through a process of trial and error. There is increasing understanding of the importance of policy experimentation and innovation in many of China’s reforms; this article argues that these processes have been important in rebuilding China’s health system.
Liu T, Hao X and Zhang Z (2016) Identifying community healthcare supports for the elderly and the factors affecting their aging care model preference: evidence from three districts of Beijing, BMC Health Services Research, 16:1863, DOI: 10.1186/s12913-016-1863-y
The Chinese tradition of filial piety, which prioritized family-based care for the elderly, is transitioning and elders can no longer necessarily rely on their children. The purpose of this study was to identify community support for the elderly, and analyze the factors that affect which model of old-age care elderly people dwelling in communities prefer.
In 2002, China launched a voluntary health insurance scheme to provide financial protection to people affected by disease-related illness. Future Health Systems (FHS) work in Hanbin County, western China, has drawn on innovative methods from implementation and participatory research to train and support local policymakers, managers and health professionals in the evidence-based implementation of the scheme.
Wang L, Zhang X, Liang X and Bloom G (2016) Addressing antimicrobial resistance in China: policy implementation in a complex context, Globalization and Health, 12:30, DOI: 10.1186/s12992-016-0167-7
The effectiveness of antibiotics in treating bacterial infections is decreasing in China because of the widespread development of resistant organisms. Although China has enacted a number of regulations to address this problem, but the impact is very limited. This paper investigates the implementation of these regulations through the lens of complex adaptive systems (CAS).
Husain, L (2016) Looking for ‘New Ideas That Work’: county innovation in China’s health system reforms—the case of the New Cooperative Medical Scheme, Journal of Contemporary China, Volume 25, Issue 99, pages 438-452, DOI: 10.1080/10670564.2015.1104911
The article presents a case study of a low tech and ‘second best’ reimbursement mechanism developed sub-nationally under the New Cooperative Medical Scheme, China’s rural health insurance framework, and its spread and incorporation into national policy. It argues for the importance of local government development of ‘appropriate’ policy mechanisms (jizhi) as underpinning central reforms and system adaptation.
Long Q, Qu Y, and Lucas H (2016) Drug-resistant tuberculosis control in China: progress and challenges, Infect Dis Poverty. 2016; 5: 9. doi: 10.1186/s40249-016-0103-3
China has the second highest caseload of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) in the world. In 2009, the Chinese government agreed to draw up a plan for MDR-TB prevention and control in the context of a comprehensive health system reform launched in the same year.
China is facing high prevalence rates of drug-resistant TB and MDR-TB. MDR-TB disproportionally affects the poor rural population and the highest rates are in less developed regions largely due to interrupted and/or inappropriate TB treatment. Most households with an affected member suffer a heavy financial burden because of a combination of treatment and other related costs. The influential Global Fund programme for MDR-TB control in China provides technical and financial support for MDR-TB diagnosis and treatment. However, this programme has a fixed timeline and cannot provide a long term solution. In 2009, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, in cooperation with the National Health and Family Planning Commission of China, started to develop innovative approaches to TB/MDR-TB management and case-based payment mechanisms for treatment, alongside increased health insurance benefits for patients, in order to contain medical costs and reduce financial barriers to treatment. Although these efforts appear to be in the right direction, they may not be sufficient unless (a) domestic sources are mobilized to raise funding for TB/MDR-TB prevention and control and (b) appropriate incentives are given to both health facilities and their care providers.
Along with the on-going Chinese health system reform, sustained government financing and social health protection schemes will be critical to ensure universal access to appropriate TB treatment in order to reduce risk of developing MDR-TB and systematic MDR-TB treatment and management.
Pan Y, Chen S, Chen M, Zhang P, Long Q, Xiang L, and Lucas H (2016) Disparity in reimbursement for tuberculosis care among different health insurance schemes: evidence from three counties in central China, Infect Dis Poverty. 2016; 5: 7. doi: 10.1186/s40249-016-0102-4
Health inequity is an important issue all around the world. The Chinese basic medical security system comprises three major insurance schemes, namely the Urban Employee Basic Medical Insurance (UEBMI), the Urban Resident Basic Medical Insurance (URBMI), and the New Cooperative Medical Scheme (NCMS). Little research has been conducted to look into the disparity in payments among the health insurance schemes in China. In this study, the authors aimed to evaluate the disparity in reimbursements for tuberculosis (TB) care among the abovementioned health insurance schemes.
Zhou C, Long Q, Chen J, Xiang L, Li Q, Tang S, Huang F, Sun Q, and Lucas H (2016) Factors that determine catastrophic expenditure for tuberculosis care: a patient survey in China, Infect Dis Poverty. 2016; 5: 6. doi: 10.1186/s40249-016-0100-6
Tuberculosis (TB) often causes catastrophic economic effects on both the individual suffering the disease and their households. A number of studies have analyzed patient and household expenditure on TB care, but there does not appear to be any that have assessed the incidence, intensity and determinants of catastrophic health expenditure (CHE) relating to TB care in China. That will be the objective of this paper.
Li Q, Jiang W, Wang Q, Shen Y, Gao J, Sato KD, Long Q, and Lucas H (2016) Non-medical financial burden in tuberculosis care: a cross-sectional survey in rural China, Infect Dis Poverty. 2016; 5: 5. doi: 10.1186/s40249-016-0101-5
Treatment of tuberculosis (TB) in China is partially covered by national programs and health insurance schemes, though TB patients often face considerable medical expenditures. For some, especially those from poorer households, non-medical costs, such as transport, accommodation, and nutritional supplementation may be a substantial additional burden. In this article the authors aim to evaluate these non-medical costs induced by seeking TB care using data from a large scale cross-sectional survey.
Chen S, Zhang H, Pan Y, Long Q, Xiang L, Yao L and Lucas H (2015) Are free anti-tuberculosis drugs enough? An empirical study from three cities in China, Infectious Diseases of Poverty, 4:47, doi:10.1186/s40249-015-0080-y
Tuberculosis (TB) patients in China still face a number of barriers in seeking diagnosis and treatment. There is evidence that the economic burden on TB patients and their households discourages treatment compliance. Data were collected using a questionnaire survey, key informant interviews and focus group discussions with TB patients to gain an understanding of the economic burden of TB and implications of this burden for treatment compliance.
Since the beginning of reforms in the late 1970s, China has developed rapidly, transforming itself into a middle-income country, raising hundreds of millions out of poverty and, latterly, developing broad-based social protection systems. The country’s approach to reform has been unorthodox, leading many to talk of a specific Chinese model of development. This paper analyses the role of innovation (chuangxin) and experimentation in the Chinese government repertoire and their contribution to management of change during the rapid, complex and interconnected reforms that China is undergoing.
This paper analyses the main policy documents of Urban Employee Basic Medical Insurance System (UEBMIS) over the past two decades and the institutional environment, experiences, and problems in the process of reform. The authors state that in the future, UEBMIS should proceed according to the guideline of ensuring basic demands, establishing a multi-level security system, and ensuring sustainability. It should also proceed according to the guideline of gradual advancement and piloting first. Top-level design and linkage reform should be improved, national data should be unified, and a data-evaluation system should be established.
Through summarizing the new situation and new problems since the pilot implementation development of urban and rural medical insurance for catastrophic diseases in China, this article analyzes the nature of medical insurance for catastrophic diseases and the relationship among New Rural Cooperative Medical System and Basic Medical Insurance for urban residents, puts forward the main difficulties and the faced challenges in the development of medical insurance for catastrophic diseases.
Establishment of medical security and assistance mechanisms for catastrophic diseases is the focus of health care reform to tackle the large medical expense burden. Based on sorting out the stage of the development of China's severe illness security policy, point out the cotent and difficulties of the connection of medical assistance and medical insurance for catastrophic diseases, analyse the main problems of medical assistance for catastrophic diseases and give appropriate policy recommendations.
This journal article aims to evaluate the impact of the global budget on health care costs of one pilot hospital by comparatively analyzing the data before and after the policy implementation, and then put forward proposals and suggestion for the improvement of the policy.
This paper explores the evolution of schemes for rural finance in China as a case study of the long and complex process of health system development. It argues that the evolution of these schemes has been the outcome of the response of a large number of agents to a rapidly changing context and of efforts by the government to influence this adaptation process and achieve public health goals.