Whether we’re talking about a family, business or country, significant growth inevitably causes a ripple effect of change and requires careful management to keep the proverbial engines running smoothly. As we’ve seen with Google and Apple, properly managed growth can elevate a business to empire status.

Within a decade, China will have the world’s largest economy. As its economy grows, cultural, labor and population trends are shifting. The “Chinese dream” is evolving to resemble the “American dream” as citizens increasingly strive to improve their quality of life. Young adults are going to college instead of working in factories and an emerging middle class works towards home ownership and material wealth.

China’s gradual cultural shift from collectivistic to individualistic is incongruent with its authoritarian government system. Can China maintain a sustainable, healthy business community with existing, limiting government regulation? My guess is no. Will the Chinese government continue to reevaluate its traditional ideals and adjust regulation to nurture its version of the industrial revolution? I hope so.

How is this impacting China’s health care system?

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According to research conducted by Yanzhong Huang, senior global fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, other nations that liberalized their economies outperformed China in the health care category during this stage of transformation. Many factors are contributing to China’s lacking health care system, including:

  • China’s government expected the private sector to step in as it terminated state-sponsored health care, but this did not happen.
  • Many Chinese medical centers are still managed by political appointees or health care practitioners versus professionally trained hospital administrators, according to research conducted at Yale.
  • Committed to universal health care, China extended coverage to 95% of the population, according to Wharton health care management professor Lawton R. Burns. For many consumers, this is the first time they’ve had access to health care, and they expect quality. Lines form early in the morning to see a physician and providers are strained to keep up with demand.
  • Scarcity is a rising concern in China as consumer demand increases, according to global economy experts Damien Ma and Bill Adams in their book In Line Behind a Billion People. For example, increasing scarcity of social services is likely to limit health care availability unless something is done about it. Could scarcity in health care usher in a new era of mHealth?

Is the future bright for China’s health care system?

China’s 2009 wave of health care reform adjusted some policies to accommodate shifting circumstances, but continuous reform is needed to balance health care access, cost and quality while keeping up with cultural and economic change.

How is change in health care policy in your country affecting you?