Patients urged to select more suitable hospitals
Mon, Dec 28, 2009
The China Post/Asia News Network

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Patients of certain diseases are advised to consult with hospitals about their medical treatment plans in advance before deciding on where they want to receive surgical operations and follow-up treatment.

Medical experts said the National Health Insurance Bureau (NHIB) will adopt a new system that pays hospitals in terms of patient groups rather than individual cases beginning on Jan. 1 in a move to cut down overall medical costs.

The postponed diagnosis-related groups (DRG) system will officially take effect next month following the bureau's stepped-up coordination with hospitals.

The experts said they support the DRG system pushed by the NHIB under the Department of Health to lessen possible waste of medical resources and prevent a sweeping increase in the premium rate of the NHI program for all policyholders.

But they also cautioned the inadequate supervision by the NHIB could create a loophole for hospitals that may refuse to take certain patients if the treatment process cause higher medical costs.

Surgery for certain patients could be canceled or postponed by hospitals that want to limit overall costs for the same groups of patients in order to comply with the new DRG rules.

Some others patients could be forced to leave hospitals earlier than they need.

NHIB officials said the rights, benefits and treatments for patients will remain the same as before the implementation of the DRG system.

They stressed that the rights of patients should not be comprised for any reason.

To prevent the possible loopholes, they said the bureau will monitor the conditions of same patients concerning the surgical operations, hospitalization, and follow-up outpatient visits to hospitals.

But to better protect themselves, the patients should still have to gather the detailed information about surgery, post-operation treatment, the duration for staying at the hospitals, and the criteria for moving out from the hospitals by consulting with doctors and hospital staff, the medical experts suggested.

Such information about treatment plans will help patients select a more suitable hospital, they said.

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