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A cut above: Chinese agencies offer overseas medical treatme

发布时间:2016-01-14 14:15 来源:未知打印

For the first time since her daughter was diagnosed with epilepsy nine years ago, Yang Lei, from Inner Mongolia, had a clear understanding of the girl’s radiology results after they were carefully explained to her by Japanese doctor.

The scenario is in contrast to her numerous visits to mainland hospitals, including some of the country’s best in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. Yang sometimes booked VIP consultations, but still the doctors spent just a few minutes with her.

“Following years of treatment, my daughter still suffered several minor seizures a day which meant she can’t take care of herself,” Yang said. “The mainland’s elite doctors told us that there was no further treatment to improve her condition.”

At the beginning of this year, however, she discovered that epilepsy treatment was more advanced in Japan and the United States, which rekindled her hope. Through the help of a medical services agency, Yang made an appointment for her nine-year-old daughter at the National Centre of Neurology and Psychiatry in Tokyo in mid-May.

The girl had a thorough examination and was prescribed drugs. The family will return to Japan in mid-June to see if she qualifies for surgery.

As the mainland becomes more affluent and has more contact with the outside world, more people like Yang are heading abroad for better medical treatment.

The Wuzhou Hospital Management Company, based in Hangzhou, arranges treatment for clients in the US, Japan, Germany, Britain and Denmark. Fan Yuexin, the company’s founder, said clients went overseas for superior medical technology and services.

One area of high demand has been among cancer patients. According to the National Cancer Prevention and Research Centre in Beijing, the five-year survival rate of Chinese patients is 30 per cent, half that of patients in the US.

This had been a boon to agents who introduced mainland patients to foreign hospitals and clinics, said Wang Gang, president of the Hope Noah Company in Beijing.

The company’s business has grown by half annually in the past few years, and in April they signed contracts with nearly 60 new clients.

The company charges 98,000 yuan (HK$124,000) for its first week of service which includes booking appointments with overseas hospitals, translating medical records, applying for visas, arranging airport pickups, providing accommodation and accompanying patients. They charge 30,000 yuan per week thereafter.

Most of Hope Noah’s clients are seeking treatment for serious conditions such as cancer or heart disease. But other patients were heading offshore for advanced pharmaceuticals that were still a decade away from approval for sale in China due to government red tape, Fan said.

“A lot of my clients with hepatitis C go to the US to get orally administered drugs that are believed to offer a 90 per cent chance of a cure. Chinese doctors still rely on the traditional method involving interferons [which have multiple side-effects],” he said.

Other drawcards were a more “humane” level of service and tailored medical treatments, in contrast to China’s cramped hospitals and overworked medical staff.

Yang said the Japanese hospital left her with a good impression. “Doctors and nurses there really care for us and I think they deeply hope my girl can recover.”

She said the cost there was not that much more than at home. One radiology test cost about 30,000 yuan in Japan, on par with one her daughter took at a major hospital in Guangzhou.

Fan said competition within the sector was fierce, with dozens of newcomers emerging in recent years, especially fuelled by capital markets that sensed the growth potential of the industry.

Sequoia Capital, a leading international venture equity firm, last year put 10 million yuan into Saint Lucia Consulting, an agency in Beijing, the China Business News reported.

Compared with the dynamic growth of Hope Noah, Fan’s company had grown more slowly with only three or four new clients a month since it was set up at the end of 2013, Fan said.

Shanghai-based Ryavo Healthcare had a similarly sluggish start, according to its general manager Zhou Jizhao, who said the public response was cooler than he expected when he opened the agency two years ago.

That could be because people are still largely unaware that much better medical services can be accessed overseas.

The three agencies claim they all partner with top hospitals in the US and Japan, such as Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, MD Anderson Cancer Centre in Houston and Tokyo’s Cancer Institute Hospital of JFCR.

Mass General had about 100 Chinese patients last year, 10 times as many as in 2011, the Boston Globe quoted Dr Andrew Warshaw, former chief of surgery who heads international and regional clinical relations for the hospital, as saying.

Nearly all mainland patients paid their own overseas medical expenses because commercial international medical insurance had scant coverage in China, the three agencies said.

But the industry is not without risk. CCTV reported that a domestic agency charged one Shandong patient with eye problems 600,000 yuan for translating his medical records and contacting an American hospital. The agency later told him to remit 10 million yuan for “treatment bills”, saying the hospital said the illness could be completely cured. The man realised it was a con and didn’t pay the second instalment.

In regular practices, agencies don’t charge medical costs and patients pay their bills directly to the overseas hospitals.

Dr Yu Wenbing, from the Beijing Cancer Hospital, said it was good that wealthy patients sought overseas treatment because it would help reduce the workload for doctors at the mainland’s top hospitals.

It is estimated that 700,000 people from outside Beijing flock to hospitals in the capital every day, according to the news portal Cnr.cn.

“I should point out that China’s first-class hospitals have close communication with elite health centres abroad and the capacity gap [between China and the world] is narrowing,” Yu said. “In terms of surgery skills, Chinese doctors are a cut above foreign counterparts because they practice a lot.”

Huang Ruofan, an oncologist at Shanghai’s Huashan Hospital, agreed, saying the only value of overseas medical care was to receive treatment from the best doctors acknowledged globally in the industry.

“I doubt agencies know who those first-ranked doctors are and I don’t think they can access those leading experts,” he said.

译文:

来自内蒙古的杨蕾九年前女儿被确诊患有癫痫。在听到日本医生耐心的解释后她第一次明白了孩子接受放疗的结果。

这与她曾经求诊的无数中国大陆医院形成鲜明的对比,其中包括北京、上海、广州最有名的医院。即便她有时挂的是专家号,医生也只会接待她短短几分钟。

“经过这么多年的治疗,我女儿还是有时一天会发病多次,她还没法生活自理。”杨蕾说道。“大陆的专家们都说已经没有办法改善我孩子的现状了。”

然而今年年初,她查到日本和美国的癫痫治疗水平更先进,这给了她希望。在一家医疗服务中介的帮助下,杨蕾成功为9岁的女儿在东京的日本国立精神·神经研究中心预约到了5月份的一次诊断。

医院给孩子进行了详细的检查,并开具处方药物。杨蕾一家将会在6月中旬回国,进一步观察判断孩子是否能接受手术。

随着中国大陆人们生活水平的提高,与国外的交流更为频繁,越来越多的人们就像杨蕾一样出国寻求更好的医疗服务。

杭州五洲医院管理有限公司致力于安排客户到美国、日本、德国、英国和丹麦就医。创始人樊悦信提到客户去海外就医是为了获得更好的医疗技术和服务。

对这一服务的需求很大一部分来自癌症患者。北京的国家癌症预防和研究中心的数据显示,中国癌症患者的5年存活率是30%,是美国的一半。

“这对介绍大陆患者到国外医院和诊所就医的中介来说是一大机遇。”位于北京的厚朴方舟总裁王刚如是说。

该公司业务在过去几年呈每半年即大幅增长的态势。四月份新增客户量接近60人。

公司收费标准是第一周98,000人民币(124,000港元),提供的服务包括预约海外医院,翻译患者病历,申请签证,安排接送机,提供住宿和生活陪同。之后每周费用增加30,000人民币。

公司的大部分客户都是寻求重大疾病的治疗,例如癌症和心脏疾病。但也有些患者是为获得先进药物出国。这些药物要获得中国政府批准还需要很多年,樊悦信说。

“我公司的许多丙肝患者去美国寻求治愈率能达到90%的口服药。中国医生依靠的仍是传统的疗法,包括干扰素(有很多副作用)。” 他说道。

另一优势是海外医院能提供更人性化的服务和个性化的治疗方案,而非中国拥挤的医院和超负荷工作的医护人员。

杨蕾说日本医院给她留下了很好的印象:“医生和护士真的在乎我们,让我觉得他们真诚希望我的孩子能康复。”

她说费用并没有比在国内看病贵很多。一次放疗30,000日元,与她在国内广州大医院的费用差不多。

樊悦信提到近年来有很多人进入海外医疗服务这一领域,竞争很激烈,尤其是资本市场的助力更显示出这个产业的潜力。

据中国第一财经日报报道,红杉资本,国际领先的风险创业资本投资公司,去年向盛诺一家投资一千万人民币。

相较厚朴方舟的快速发展,五洲公司发展较缓,每个月仅有3到4个客户,这是因为公司在2013年底刚成立,樊悦信说道。

位于上海的瑞弗健康管理公司也有相似的境遇——缓慢的开端。据总经理周先生说,公司刚成立的两年,市场反应出乎他意料的冷淡。

那可能是由于人们还没有意识到能到国外接受良好的医疗服务。

这三家机构都声称在美国和日本有顶级医院合作伙伴,如波士顿的麻省总医院,休斯顿的MD Anderson 癌症中心和东京癌症研究会有明医院。

波士顿环球报引用曾负责国际和地区临床关系的前外科主任Andrew Warshaw的话:去年麻省总医院接待了约100名中国患者,是2011年的10倍。

三家中介均提到,几乎所有的大陆患者都需要自费就诊,因为国际商业医疗保险在中国覆盖率低。

但这一产业也并非没有风险。中央电视台曾报道一家国内中介向一位山东眼疾患者收费六十万人民币,用于翻译病历和联系美国医院。之后又要求患者汇款一千万人民币做“治疗费用”,并称缴费后能帮其完全治愈。患者这才意识到是骗局,没有再次汇款。

一般情况,中介并不收取治疗费用,患者是跟海外医院直接进行交易的。

北京肿瘤医院的于文斌副主任医师说有钱的患者去国外看病是个好现象,这样能减少国内主要医院医护人员的工作量。

根据中国门户网站报道,每天约有七十万人涌向北京各大医院就诊。

“有一点我得说明那就是中国国内的顶级医院跟国外的领先医疗中心有密切的交流和联系,双方实力差距是很小的。”于文斌说道,“至于手术技术,中国医生会比国外同行更优秀,因为他们有更多实践机会。”

黄若凡,上海华山医院的肿瘤学家也同意上述观点:海外就医的唯一价值就是能获得世界上最有声誉最优秀医生的治疗。

“我怀疑这些中介是否知道一流的医生有哪些,我认为他们没法很好地对这些顶级专家做出评价。”黄若华说道。

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