Eight Roads has focused on the development of China’s healthcare industry for over 20 years. The successful investment in Wuxi AppTech and the incubation of Innovent helped reveal the enormous opportunity stemming from surging demand for high-quality but affordable medical care.
China’s healthcare services have traditionally been dominated by public operators. A “coverage for all” model, supported by state-run Basic Medical Insurance (BMI),places enormous pressure on the existing system. Many state-owned hospitals are renowned for their medical expertise, but lack of resources means they have yet to develop a holistic approach to care. One element of China’s Five-Year Plans, in support of ‘Healthy China’, is to introduce private practitioners to supplement current provision. Over the past decade, many private hospitals have been set up but most offer general practice targeting the affluent.
After years of planning, the DeltaHealth clinic was opened in 2013 in Shanghai’s HongQiao district, followed by DeltaHealth Hospital in Qingpu in 2016, a location close to the city’s Hongqiao transport hub. The 50,000 square-metre premises house a team of 60 medical experts who offer medical care to patients from across the Yangtze River Delta region.
A project of local and global collaboration
Developing a greenfield hospital from scratch is a laborious process. It is not just about finding land and construction, but pulling together a strong medical team with administrative and management support working to a uniform set of operating standards and procedures. DeltaHealth collaborated with various government departments on every single detail, bringing in international best practices while ensuring local compliance.
This collaboration stretched globally too. DeltaHealth is the first and only medical institution in China with a consultation and advisory relationship with Columbia HeartSource, including clinical teams from the Divisions of Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery of Columbia University in the US. On top of sharing standards and procedures, Columbia HeartSource offers medical training and counselling to DeltaHealth. This enables DeltaHealth to challenge existing clinical practices by making the needs of each individual patient the primary focus. Joint-teams have developed a multidisciplinary “One Heart Team” approach, offering seamless and integrated patient care from screening, diagnosis and treatment, through to rehabilitation and nutrition. This is a big differentiator as compared to the standard practice in China.
Traditionally most Chinese physicians work in the public system. But waves of reform are encouraging them to dual-locate in public and private facilities. DeltaHealth took advantage of this to assemble an all-star clinical team from top-notch hospitals across the country, bringing decades of clinical experience and cardiovascular know-how.
Professor Sun Lizhong, Chief Medical Officer for Cardiac Surgery, is recognised as a pioneer in aortic surgeries. “Sun’s Procedure” has been widely adopted across the world and is regarded as the global standard treatment for Type A aortic dissection. Professor Ge Junbo, Director of Internal Medicine, is an academician of Chinese Academy of Sciences who has been acknowledged by his peers in cardiology for his leadership and dedication to innovating clinical techniques in cardiovascular disease and research. To date, more than 1,000 surgeries have been performed, most highly complex cases.
As commercial medical insurance is still developing in China, the majority of patients still rely on BMI to cover their medical expenses. In 2018, DeltaHealth was selected to join Shanghai’s pilot programme of “High Quality Medical Institutions” and was granted entry to the BMI scheme. This means medical bills can be partially reimbursed by China’s national insurance programme, allowing more patients to access DeltaHealth. It is a key milestone for the hospital, not only in terms of increasing its accessibility, but for demonstrating the government’s strong belief in the work of DeltaHealth.