Patients or customers? New models for medicine – 把患者叫做“客户”的新型医生 – English

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Obstetrician Gong Xiaoming believes that medical services are just like other services in the industry, and overseas, the relationship between doctors and patients is a service relationship. Only by truly serving the patients well and treating them as clients can we truly “feel that doctor is a respected profession.”

Text: Chen Siming; editor: Wang Yaping

Gong Xiaoming says: ‘unless they can prove me wrong (that cervical erosion is not a disease), I will just have to keep saying it.’

Gong Xiaoming, a former obstetrician at Peking Union Medical College Hospital in Beijing, joined the Shanghai First Maternal and Children Hospital in 2014,because the later promised him he could ‘practice more’. And so, without even inquiring about the wage, he just ‘transferred’ from thousand miles away.

Gong Xiaoming does not want to share the same identity as traditional doctors – authoritative, without a sense of service, rigid. That is the ideal he is struggling for.

He loves the medical profession.

When I took college entrance exam, my dad wanted me to do medicine, because he felt that my personality was not suitable for the political career, learning medicine on the other hand was learning life-saving skills, which warranted a comfortable life.” He recalled his internship. At first, I was in internal medicine and saw with my own eyes many patients arrived when they were already in advanced stage. The physicians were helpless and the patient proposed to look for qigong masters. “At that stage, the physician in charge could not refuse, so he had to agreed.” He did not like this feeling of helplessness, and hope to find a quick and complete solution to the problem, so decided to be a surgeon, and finally took the opportunity to join the country’s well-known obstetric and gynecology hospital.

He began working in 1998, and at that time, discovered a US website devoted to gynecology and obstetrics while China had no similar website. So in 2000, he created one, “it was the era of personal space, so I made a personal website, also applied for a top-level domain.” After 10 years, the site became a domestic obstetrician’s portal. Almost all obstetricians and gynecologists in the country know about this professional website that grants them access professional information and peer exchanges.

When Weibo and Weixin came out, he actively explored them, and used them to interact with patients. When weibo launched public accounts, he became the first doctor in China to open a Weixin work platform,making use of WeChat public platform to give the public popular science and obstetrics knowledge. Not long ago, he sent a public message asking patients who had had surgery with him to give him the time, place of surgery and the recovery progress so that he can easily provide them follow-up service via his personal WeChat.

The American health care system had a great influence on Gong Xiaoming. In 2003, he received from Beijing Union Medical College Hospital an opportunity to participate in an exchange study program with Los Angeles Obstetrics and Gynecology hospital。”At that time, I really started appreciating what kind of profession medicine is, and how doctors should approach it. In reality, healthcare is a service industry, and overseas, the relationship between doctor and patient is a service relationship.” 。He discovered that only by truly serving the patients well and treating them as clients can we truly “feel that doctor is a respected profession.”

Since then, he has been practicing the concept of “healthcare service.” Studying abroad again in 2012 led him to realize that the gap between Chinese and American healthcare was actually the physician training system. In order to improve the training of young doctors, he moved his focus on young doctor training and tried hard to change the existing system. He found that “multi-point practice” was a good way out. China’s policy encouraged this practice in 2008 and 2009, “but it has not been implemented properly.” Therefore, when Head of the First Maternal and Children Hospital of Shanghai, Duan Tao, invited him, he agreed。

Now he spends half a day every week visiting private outpatient clinics and returning to Beijing once a month to see previous patients. “很多人抱怨的地方就有机会,目前医疗行业就是如此,我在前面先做些尝试,来探探路。”

In addition to “multi-point practice”, he is also looking into online medicine. The website created in 2000 turned commercial in 2006, and the company he founded has evolved into a team of nearly twenty members and is now preparing to launch a Medical Software targeting pregnant women in 2015 called Hyacinth.

“The ideal state would be to form one’s own medical team, form a Group between doctors, develop healthy competition, and give good service.”

San Ming Zhi: You’ve been working with Weibo and Weixin since very early on. How did they help doctors in their practice?

Gong Xiaoming: I’ve found that they are useful tool to convey scientific information to more people. Journals on cervical erosion published by the end of 2012 were read by a total of more than thirty thousand people. I see a maximum of 30 patients in an outpatient clinic, how many days would it take to reach the number of 30,000 people? Weibo and WeChat can now give everyone the right opinions, they have benefited a lot of people and prevented excessive medical treatment, to me, this is a good thing.

Medical profession needs a humanistic spirit, and doctors must communicate effectively the likely outcome of each decision, thus avoiding conflicts. For patients who read my articles, they can understand my treatment better, communication between us is more effective, hence we can save time, which is good for both sides.

Previously, due to the loss of contact information, it was relatively difficult to revisit (my patients). Now, my personal WeChat account specially stores information on my previous patients. If they have any small questions to ask me, send a WeChat text to me and I can reply when available. After surgery, I can not abandon the follow-up. I have to know the recovery process. This brings a deeper meaning to my job.

China30s: User feedback on their experience is also very important for medical practice.

Gong Xiaoming: One day, I also told our Head of the hospital that our questionnaire revealed patients’ satisfaction level is more than 95%, but to really understand the feelings of patients, at the same time, we also need to check for public comments on reputable medical websites about their experience with our hospital. Only if we understand patient’s real concerns can we do better.

China30s: Your argument of “cervical erosion is not a disease” is indeed very successful, are you worried about hurting some people’s benefits?

Gong Xiaoming: I don’t worry about it, because even more people will benefit. There’s no need for the patient to spend so much money on unnecessary medical treatment. Unless they can prove me wrong, I have to say it.

The Chinese medical community has been slow to update their medical knowledge. 30 year ago in Taiwan, cervical erosion was already considered as a non-disease, the same goes with Europe and the United States. In China there are still 80% of doctors treating cervical erosion as a disease, this is a waste of resources.


China Thirties: Why did you originally go to a private hospital in the US to practice more?


China30s: How do private hospitals feel different?






China30s: in 2003, you went to the US for an internship, is there anything you can share?





China30s: Do you enjoy being a web-entrepreneur?



China30s: Will you be releasing a mobile application next year?


China 30s: Do you still love this profession?



I am still finding my path, and I want to tell my colleagues, it is possible to gain both respect and happiness.

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Source : China 30s

About julien.leyre

French-Australian writer, educator, sinophile. Any question? Contact