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Innovations in Health Care Delivery
July 19, 2016

Medical Informatics and the “Three Long, One Short” Problem of Large Urban Hospitals in China

Author Affiliations
  • 1Xijing Hospital, Fourth Military Medical University, Xi’an, China
  • 2Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Irvine
  • 3School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Xi’an JiaoTong University, Xi’an, China

Copyright 2016 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.

JAMA. 2016;316(3):269-270. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.5487

China accounts for 19% of the world population1 but only 5.5% of total gross domestic product for health expenditures.2 Most of the medical resources (eg, well-trained medical workers, advanced medical equipment) are concentrated in large tertiary hospitals. The large tertiary hospitals in the large cities have been overcrowded and adversely affected by the so-called three long, one short conditions (long registration and queue times; long waiting times; long dispensary and payment queue times; and short physician visit times). These factors have led to widespread patient dissatisfaction and have contributed to the fatigue of Chinese physicians who work long hours with overloaded schedules. State President Xi Jinping has described large urban hospitals in China as war zones, always in a “state of war” and overcrowded.3 The relatively scarce and uneven distribution of medical resources causes a serious imbalance between supply and demand, which has contributed to deteriorating patient-physician relationships. The frequent incidence of patient-physician disputes resulting in violence directed at some physicians in recent years is a matter of great concern to the Chinese government and to the global medical community.4

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