SHENZHEN has become one of the three pilot cities in China to adopt the Diagnosis-related Group (DRG) system as a new way to calculate medical bills for patients in public hospitals, according to a press release from the city's health and family planning commission.
Nanshan District People's Hospital transmitted data of the 150,000 medical cases collected by the hospital over the past three years to the Guangdong C-DRG Data Center on Dec. 30, marking the launch of the C-system's pilot run in Shenzhen.
The DRG system was created in the 1980s in the United States to classify inpatient cases and categorize those with similar clinical features into one group, since they are expected to use the same amount of hospital resources. Patients in the same group will have the same standards applied to calculate their medical bills.
The system that has been adopted in Shenzhen is called C-DRG, because it was developed independently in China. The system categorizes patients based on three key aspects - the clinical similarity of the disease, the complexity of the treatment and the level of hospital resources the treatment consumes.
The traditional charging system in hospitals charges patients item by item, but under the C-DRG system, patients who are diagnosed with the same disease and treated by the same methods will be charged a fixed payment.
"The introduction of the system will benefit patients and discourage excessive treatment, because unnecessary treatment will only burden hospitals with extra costs instead of generating profits. Therefore, patients won't have to take medicine or undergo tests that they don't need," said Zhu Suisong, director of the Nanshan hospital's network engineering department.
According to Zhu, the system will urge hospitals to adopt new management methods to control costs and improve the quality of clinical services. "For example, ambulatory surgery will be more common in hospitals, because patients who undergo ambulatory surgeries don't have to stay in hospitals overnight. It can cut costs for hospitals and bring convenience to patients," he said.
Zhu said the C-DRG system can apply to 98 percent of medical cases, but there are some exceptions. "If a patient has to be hospitalized for a very long time and receive complicated treatment, their medical bill can be calculated item by item or based on the number of days they are hospitalized," he said.
According to the city's health and family planning commission, nine public hospitals in Shenzhen have been chosen as pilot hospitals to adopt the C-DRG system, including Shenzhen People's Hospital, Shenzhen No. 2 People's Hospital, Shenzhen TCM Hospital, Shenzhen Maternity and Child Healthcare Hospital, Peking University Shenzhen Hospital and four district hospitals.
The city's C-DRG management and application platform will connect with the national C-DRG information platform in the first quarter of this year. In the second quarter, nine pilot hospitals will upload their data to the national platform and the city will compile local guidelines for the C-DRG system based on feedback from the nine pilot hospitals.